First published in 1989, this scarifying memoir has become a classic of the genre, as notable for its artful structure and finely wrought prose as for the events it describes. The book essentially launched the memoir craze that has been going strong ever since. It was made into a movie in 1993.
The story is pretty grim: teen-aged 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 listeners come away exhilarated.
©1989 Tobias Wolff (P)2010 HighBridge Company
"Unforgettable." (Time )
"At once compassionate and deeply disturbing." (The New York Times Magazine)
"A jewel-like memoir of childhood in the 1950s...Lucid, bitter, precise, terribly sad: the real-life equivalent of Wolff's acclaimed fiction." (Kirkus Reviews)
An incredibly beautiful book masterfully performed. Brilliant. Everything you'd expect from a writer of this stature and enhanced by a nuanced performance. Highly recommended.
Best enjoyed the ability of this character's mother to extricate herself from bad situations. Least enjoyed that she entered one after another and her son's continual display of delinquency and trouble.
Tobias' autobiography left me feeling sorry for all who encountered him from his Mom to his many benefactors. In trying to be frank and self revealing he seems to be only aware of how others were oblivious to his inner deceit and shameless lies. He has no love for anyone and doesn't seem to care who he hurts. I can ride along with this for a while but over time it became apparent that he just didn't care about anyone else but himself. Writing it now that he is a successful author, I would have hoped for at least an after-word of some awareness of how people had helped him and some yes, gratitude for if not letting him learn at the feet of the masters at least some common humanity of a mom trying to do the best she could.
Half way through and haven't found a reason to continue. I don't care one way or another about the main character or even the minor ones.
it was a good book, but not one that I had to listen to all the time.
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