Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Boys of My Youth Paperback – January 29, 1999
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
In the title story, Beard and her best friend, now 38, still spend forever on the phone, an activity they perfected in junior high and that is now possible thanks to an office WATS line. Hindsight easily renders their seventh-grade ex nihilo obsession with a "ninth grader extraordinaire" foolish, along with most encounters with the boys of their youth. But their current relations with men are really no less absurd, as they realize while listening to Beard's latest possibility leave an answering-machine message: "I don't know whether to faint or kill myself. Elizabeth laughs unbecomingly. I put both hands around my own neck. We are no longer bored."
The Boys of My Youth is filled with family picnics, small celebrations, and fragility. Beard knows that her teenage efforts to "have a better personality" were as futile as her later attempt at "practicing being snotty, in anticipation of being dumped by my husband," but that doesn't make her any less fond of her younger self. And she has the same affection, and irritation, for her family, who slowly emerge in story after story. In "Waiting," she and her older sister try to keep calm as their mother is dying: "I hold two fingers up to remind her of how much longer she needs to keep this up, to pay attention. She holds up one finger, guess which one, to remind me of who's the oldest, who's the boss. I would love more than anything to slap her."
There isn't a weak piece in this collection, which includes the world's most perfect description of the agonies of having your hair washed--at age 3--and the ecstasies of one encounter near the Mexican border. "The car is a boiling cauldron. The coyote stands scruffy and skittish, like a wild dingo dog I met once, who bit everything in sight, wagging his tail like a maniac. Eric slides the camera to me and puts a hand on my arm. He whispers in my ear. I nod. I love dogs better than anything else on earth, next to cigarettes and a couple of people."
Beard often edges from serious laughter to high seriousness and back again. "The Fourth State of Matter" is perhaps the book's standout, a narrative about space physicists; invading squirrels; a beautiful, dying dog; a "vanished husband"; and, alas, a seminar turned 12-minute massacre. On November 1, 1991, she leaves work early and passes by the disappointed graduate student who will later that day gun down eight members of the University of Iowa physics depart. Her piece is complex and heartbreaking, a master conduit of emotion and information. As always, Beard knows the rich value of the minor ritual. Earlier, she had recalled playing "Maserati" with her collie: "I'd grab her nose like a gearshift and put her through all the gears, firstsecondthirdfourth, until we were going a hundred miles an hour through town. She thought it was funny." After "the newslady" finally confirms her colleagues' deaths, "Maserati" again figures: "We sit by the tub. She lifts her long nose to my face and I take her muzzle and we move through the gears slowly; first second third fourth, all the way through town, until what has happened has happened and we know it has happened." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
With an exquisite eye for detail and lots of humor, Jo Ann Beard inspires memories of laughter and friendship and the heartache of youth that is never matched in later life. Upon completion of this book, you will find yourself thanking Jo Ann Beard for taking you back to that magical place in time. "The Boys of My Youth" is worth reading and re-reading and sharing with your best friends.
What lies within the cover is a collection of short stories, jumping back and forth between Beard's adult and younger life. Although her focus is on the males in her life, whether it be a male doll when she was a kid, her father, or a lover, she also describes those in her life that were female. It's a delicate tale, but faced with a lot of courage to bear open some of her inner demons, emotions, and mistakes.
Although she details on how to be human, a facet often not easily captured, this was not the most compelling of stories. Don't get me wrong, I was engaged and curious about her tale. However, I was not unable to put it down or set it aside or to think of other things, such as her quality of writing while reading. I wish I could give half stars, and for that I might have depleted just a half, but c'est la vie. And before everyone shakes their finger at me for being mean towards a personal tale, it's also extremely feminist at times. It can, therefore, be a bit oppressive towards a male audience or an audience, such as myself, who is not so geared towards feminism.
Don't let such a minor mishap get you down. This book is a keeper. It's an easy read, her writing is always poetic, and worth the time, the money, and the emotional burden.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a moving and beautifully written memoir in the form of a linked set of personal essays, touching on everything from early crushes (the eponymous "Boys... Read morePublished 19 days ago by Katherine White
Beautiful, honest, lyrical writing. This started out slowly for me but then I loved it so much I was sad to see it end.Published 26 days ago by Ronna Sarvas Weltman
This was one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Beard uses fictional narrative wisely to create tension and suspense. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Jill Stegman
A fun read that bounced around time frames making me laugh and wince often. I'll search for more by this author.Published 1 month ago by jan iiams
Never even finished it and I was only like, four pages from the end. Just boring. The writing was decent, there were parts I enjoyed, but overall it just seemed that nothing really... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Chelsey of Wisconsin
If you liked 'In Zanesville' you'll like this one from the same author. Moody short stories from the perspective of a girl or woman...sometimes odd but always surprising. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bookmonster
I was forced to read this for a class. Couldn't get through the first chapter. Yawn.Published 2 months ago by J. McBrearty
Loved it. I felt myself immersed in the story and it tugged on my heart strings.Published 2 months ago by Cary Straton