Author John Irving on fear and happiness
John Irving explains why he believes fear makes for better stories than happiness -- he is the author of several critically acclaimed books.
The following is a partial transcript; for full story, listen to audio.
John Irving, the writer famous for such well-loved and critically acclaimed books as "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules," has just released a new novel: "Last Night in Twisted River."
"Last Night in Twisted River" spans 50 years and follows the life and times of Danny Baciagalupo. When the novel starts, 12-year-old Danny is being raised by his father, Dominic, in a logging camp in New Hampshire. Events unfurl and Danny and Dominic end up on the run.
Irving explains why there are no long-lasting relationships in his new book: "I don't know that happily married is such an interesting story. I'm happily married but I can't imagine writing a novel about it. Or, I can't imagine there would be many people interested in that story. Unhappiness, loneliness, being deprived of something, losing something -- these are much more compelling stories."
The novel is a return to form for Irving, capturing sadness, isolation, and redemption in exquisite detail and with great humor. He believes fear makes for better stories than happiness.
He says that this is a novel, at heart, about appreciating the people in our lives before we lose them. The story has many losses: there is a death on the first page, and people lose people in all different ways, sometimes just by losing touch. Irving wants to embrace the advice he gives in his book to "cherish the moment."
"It's one thing to be able to give people advice, it's quite another to take it yourself. The imagination, unfortunately, isn't a faucet. I've often thought that I would be more content and less anxious as a father if when I left my office at the end of the day, I could somehow leave my imagination under the desk with whatever I was writing ... but it doesn't work that way."
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