Bears play a strong part in his novels, as do prostitutes, Mrs. Robinson-style romances, New England, and lethal accidents. If you aren't familiar with his books, you might have seen some of the movies based on them: The World According to Garp; Hotel New Hampshire; The Cider House Rules.
This one starts with a logging accident in the 1950's and goes on until the present day, covering three generations, featuring a cook, his son, and grandson, along with some of the oddball characters Irving likes to people his books with. I find his work intriguing and always a treat.
There's an afterword in this book and I learned something I didn't know before: Irving always starts his books by coming up with the last sentence. He works backward from there, figuring out the story, and when he gets to the first sentence, then he starts the actual writing.
Never done this myself, though I did have the final scene in my first novel in mind when I sat down to do that one. Going to be a sword fight, I knew, and I was careful to hang one on the wall early in the book and point at it. Like Chekov's comment about the gun -- if you hang one on the wall in act one, it better go off before the end of act three -- I knew it was going to get used at the end.
Not that I am comparing myself to Chekov or Irving here, I'm just sayin' that's what I did.