I love John Irving's books and this new one is a honey. What I especially admire among Irving's themes is the profound love between fathers and sons. Especially the concern and protectionism of an older father to a growing son. None of this Oedipal crap that gets in the way. I understand John Irving didn't know anything about his own biological father-who had been a war hero during WWII-until very recently, and that Irving has three boys of his own. Lucky boys.
I'm further attracted in "Last Night in Twisted River" by advice given to writers:
"In the media, real life was more important than fiction; those elements of a novel that were, at least, based on personal experience were of more interest to the general public than those pieces of the novel writing process that were 'merely' made up. In any work of fiction, weren't those things that really happened to the writer-or perhaps, to someone the writer had intimately known-more authentic, more verifiably true, than anything anyone could imagine? (This was a common belief, even though a fiction writer's job was imagining, truly, a whole story-as Danny had subversively said, whenever he was given the opportunity to defend the fiction in fiction writing-because real life stories were never whole, never complete in the ways novels could be.)"
John Irving, Last Night in Twisted River, pp. 372-373