With one of the tapes from their restaurant interview having been stolen, John Irving reads a series of supplied questions from Larry McCaffery and then answers them. Irving is uncomfortable with the process of doing this outside of the context of the interview and notes that he finds both the questions and his own answers to be wooden. Irving discusses aspects of his own fiction, including the prehistory in Setting Free the Bears, the maternal instincts and vulnerability of several of his male characters, the metafictional commentary that he allows his books to do on themselves and the use of sex. Irving concludes the interview with a discussion on the debate between John Gardner and William Gass over whether fiction needs to say something. Irving sides more with Gardner than Gass, noting “literature should be a sign of life rather than a celebration of death; and if a novel doesn’t address itself to something of human value, I don’t see much worth in it.” The majority of the questions (as put forward by Larry McCaffery) and the answers from Irving are published, in slightly edited form, on portions of page 187 (concerning the Gardner-Gass debate) as well as on pages 191 to 197 of Anything Can Happen: Interviews with Contemporary American Novelists, edited by Tom LeClair and Larry McCaffery, University of Illinois Press, 1983.