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This Boy's Life: A Memoir Paperback – March, 2000
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Fiction writer Tobias Wolff electrified critics with his scarifying 1989 memoir, which many deemed as notable for its artful structure and finely wrought prose as for the events it describes. The story is pretty grim: Teenaged Wolff moves with his divorced mother from Florida to Utah to Washington State to escape her violent boyfriend. When she remarries, Wolff finds himself in a bitter battle of wills with his abusive stepfather, a contest in which the two prove to be more evenly matched than might have been supposed. Deception, disguise, and illusion are the weapons the young man learns to employ as he grows up--not bad training for a writer-to-be. Somber though this tale of family strife is, it is also darkly funny and so artistically satisfying that most readers come away exhilarated rather than depressed. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Wolff's fourth book, he recounts his coming-of-age with customary skill and self-assurance. Seeking a better life in the Northwestern U.S. with his divorced mother, whose "strange docility, almost paralysis, with men of the tyrant breed" taught Wolff the virtue of rebellion, he considered himself "in hiding," moved to invent a private, "better" version of himself in order to rise above his troubles. Primary among these were the adultsdrolly eccentric, sometimes dementedwho were bent on humiliating him. Since Wolff the writer never pities Wolff the boy, the author characterizes the crew of grown-up losers with damning objectivity, from the neurotic stepfather who painted his entire house (piano and Christmas tree included) white, to the Native American football star whose ultimate failure was as inexplicable as his athletic brilliance. Briskly and candidly reportedWolff's boyhood best friend "bathed twice a day but always gave off an ammoniac hormonal smell, the smell of growth and anxiety"his youth yields a self-made man whose struggle to fit the pieces together is authentic and endearing. Literary Guild alternate.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Autobiographical, gritty realism, and wonderful story-telling. Lacks the bravado, the self-importance, and the claustrophobia of the usual coming-of-age novel. Spare, naive, irreverent, haunting: the devastatingly lonely, yet hopeful, journey of a boy on the road to becoming a man, even if accidentally.
This was my first book by Wolff. He now has five on my shelf.
The book is a page-turner without the cheap thrills, unless you count his sneaking home from school at around age 11 to "play" with the.22 one of Rosemary's boyfriends gave him. He aims at people on the street with the empty rifle. The game is no fun with an unloaded rifle, so he gets his ammo and is back to the apartment window aiming at people below.
This is my second read of the book which I selected for an American Lit student studying memoirs. I'm sure this one has very high interest for all ages.