John Irving burst onto the American literary scene in 1980 with the publication of The World According to Garp. Since then, through 12 novels, he has become a fixture and a rarity: a writer both critically acclaimed and popularly beloved. His awards are numerous and quixotic: he has received a National Book Award and an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and he was also inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. In his book, Last Night at Twisted River, Irving followed his customary writing strategy. “I always begin with a last sentence,” he says. “Then I work my way backwards, through the plot, to where the story should begin.” John Irving also visited the John Adams Institute in 1990, 1995, 2002 and 2006.
TIME “At Home with John Irving”: