This is John Irving's 12th novel in 40+ years and I believe among his best.
It really is great. One reason for that is explained in his afterward where he says that this novel has been in his head for over twenty years. He just hadn't found the last sentence (which is where he starts). In the meantime he wrote other novels because their endings came to him first. But this one has been with him long before many of the others. Interesting... it's a truly great story.
It's also meta-fiction, which was a great experience for me, and very personal for him. He says this in the afterward:
"I've written about writers before - in The World According to Garp an A Widow for One Year. But, in those novels, I never described my process as a writer; I did not make T.S. Garp or Ruth Cole the kind of novelist I am. In Twisted River, Daniel Baciagalupo IS the kind of writer I am; I even gave Danny my educational biography. (We went to the same schools, graduated in the same years, and so forth.) What I did NOT give Danny was my life, which has been largely happy and very lucky. In gave Daniel Baciagalupo the UNluckiest life I could imagine. I gave Danny the life I am afraid of having- the life I hope I never have. Maybe that's autobiographical too..."
That's beautiful. I find that most writers are more elusive than this when talking about themselves (I suspect that they hope to seem more deep by not telling).
Anyway, among the best lines in the novel is this loving, tender exchange between Danny and Lady Sky:
"I have no right to be happy," Danny told his angel, when they were falling asleep in each other's arms that first night. "Everyone has a right to be a LITTLE happy, asshole," Amy told him.