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John Irving: In One Person

abstract:John Irving is on the circuit promoting his latest book In One Person. With 13 novels, an Oscar winning screenplay, an O. Henry Award and a near miss Pulitzer Prize you could say that the popular and critical audiences have been good to him. What we have come to rely upon from Irving is unusual characters, unusual sexual proclivities, unusual deaths; unusual stories. Though he finds inspiration in the masters, Dickens and Shakespeare, his books are firmly entrenched in this century. Of all the interviews that abound, we've selected the one that has Irving talking about his main character Billy Abbot, a 60-year-old bisexual male.

When The Cider House Rules came out, readers were confronted with characters dealing with abortion. St Clouds orphanage is where Dr. Larch saves women from the prospect of searching for a back street abortion and provides them with a safe clinical alternative without judgment. Other women come, labor and leave their babies. At the time of the movie release of CHR in 1999, America was 26 years out of Roe vs Wade, the Supreme court decision that gave women the right to choose. Still at that time people felt society had a ways to go on this polarized issue. Today, Irving reminds us how successive right wing regimes and Tea Party politics have seriously eroded women's freedom to choose, as access to clinics is reduced with significant closures (for one reason or another) and funding removed for programs across the country. Ironically, studies report that the single most dramatic factor resulting in the reduction of poverty and crime and incarceration trends in America ówasóRoe vs Wade's effect of removing mothers of the financial burden or social stigma associated with an un-wanted pregnancy. But that's not the only human right at stake these days,


May 30, 2012
— and this is where In One Body has brought Irving to. Sexuality, particularly intolerance for anything that veers from strict heterosexual relationships is gaining momentum. Gay bashing, homophobia, religious castigation and manipulation abounds. Irving wanted to create a story with characters who could put a human face to the issue and show people what it's like to experience repression, harassment and injustice and exploitation. For an interesting diversion, take a look at the photos by Brooklyn photographer Tillett Wright. Here is her blog post about the photographic portrait series she was inspired to do in the face of legislation affecting the rights of gays. Darling Days.



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