Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!
[On his process for writing novels:] I can't imagine what the first sentence is, I can't imagine where I want the reader to enter the story, if I don't know where the reader is going to leave the story. So once I know what the last thing the reader hears is, I can work my way backward, like following a roadmap in reverse.
Ted Seabrooke, my wrestling coach, had a kind of Nietzschean effect on me in terms of not just his estimation of my limited abilities, but his decidedly philosophical stance about how to conduct your life, what you should do to compensate for your limitations. This was essential to me, both as a student—and not a good one—and as a wrestler who was not a natural athlete but who had found something he loved.
"John Irving Interviewed by Suzanne Herel." Mother Jones magazine, May/June 1997.
(In reference to Vermont's Act 60): This is Marxism. It's leveling everything by decimating what works ... It's that vindictive 'We've suffered, and now we're going to take money from your kid and watch you squirm'... There's a minority which is an open target in this country which no one protects, and that's rich people.
I write repeatedly—against my will—of those things I fear most happening. Losing a loved one, losing a parent, losing a child. I'm in terror of losing a child. It's never happened to me, but I am clearly compelled to write about it over and over again, and in a way I think, psychologically at least, this says more about me autobiographically as a novelist than the fact that Danny Angel goes to the Iowa Writers Workshop and has Kurt Vonnegut as a teacher, which I also did.