And therein shines the beauty of Irving’s tale, who we used to be as a society and who we have become. How these people who dared to feel different about their sexuality were treated, ridiculed, harassed, ignored, suppressed, repressed and in many cases cast aside. But over the five decades that we see Billy, we are shown a society that has grown more informed if not more compassionate; a society that has grown more tolerant if not more accepting and a world that makes place for acknowledging everyone instead of treating them as if they were invisible.
For Last Night in Twisted River is the work of a seasoned tale-teller, a writer who can blend his own life (a breakthrough novel on the fourth try, stints in Iowa under the tutelage of Kurt Vonnegut) with Danny’s and still manage to erase himself in the process. It’s the old story within a story trick, the character we thought to be a third person passive now metamorphosing into a first person active. So by the time we reach the finish, a finish that Irving ties neatly back to the beginning, Danny has provided us with an intriguing meditation on the process of fiction writing.