Last Night in Twisted River (Irving)

Discussion Questions 
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Last Night in Twisted River.

1. Like a number of Irving's novels, this one is concerned with a father and son. What is the relationship between Danny and his father Dominic? And how would you describe both of the characters?

2. One of the central ideas of this book is the precarious—even random—nature of life. How does Irving explore that theme throughout the novel? What are some of the inexplicable coincidences and accidents? Did the bizarre occurrences enrich the story for you..or irritate you?

3. Irving can be an ingeniously funny writer. Point out some of the many humorous parts in Twister River.

4. Why does Danny become an author? What does he try to accomplish with his writing? Talk about the ways this book reflects on the art of fiction. Consider these two quotations from the book:

Fiction is "both autobiographical and not autobiographical at the same time."

"All writers must know how to distance themselves, to detach themselves from this and that emotional moment."

How might these remarks apply to Danny...or to John Irving himself?

5. As father and son move from New Hampshire to Boston to Iowa, Vermont and Toronto, the book takes us back and forth in time—often out of sequence. Were you able to patch together a chronological timeline? Think about why Irving might be playing with time sequence—what affect does it have on the plot...or theme...?

6. Ketchum is Dominic's best friend: "Everything about Ketchum was hardened and sharp-edged, like a whittled-down stick—and, as Danny had observed, 'wicked tough.' " What do you think of Ketchum?

7. Do you find Constable Carl's chase believable or not? If you've seen Les Miserables, can you see a comparison between Carl and Inspector Javert?

8. Have you read other Irving novels? If so, how does this one stack up against the others? Are there similarities?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off with attribution. Thanks.)

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