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John Irving on misfits: 'I like these people'

John Irving has been preaching gender tolerance for a very, very long time. Yet as he said in a recent conversation with EW about his new novel, ”In One Person,” not all that much has changed since he wrote ”Garp” back in 1978: ”There’s still a problem. People hate each other for their sexual differences, even today”

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The World According to Garp (1978)

”It’s a novel about sexual tolerance….and when I finished I naively thought, ‘Well, thank God I’m done with that subject.’ It made me angry to write that novel. Garp is much more radical in a political sense than In One Person.”

The Hotel New Hampshire (1981)

”I think it’s pretty clear that many writers identify with outsiders and social misfits [such as] the gay brother in The Hotel New Hampshire. I like these people. They attract me on many levels — not only sexually. And I fear for them.”

The Cider House Rules (1985)

”[Acceptance] is worse today than it was when I wrote that novel! It’s more fragile. There are still a–holes running around saying that gay rights are somehow an assault on heterosexual marriages.”

A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)

When this book came out, ”I was never asked, ‘Is the narrator one of those gay guys that never comes out of the closet?”’ I go to high schools now, because Owen Meany is on AP English lists. And it’s the first question high school students today ask.”

Until I Found You (2005)

”It’s the most autobiographical novel I’ve written. Jack Burns’ sexual childhood and adolescence, and the degree to which older women always had a hold on him — that part, and just that part — actually is autobiographical.”