This Boy's Life: A Memoir Paperback – 30 Jun 1992
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About the Author
The author of three collections of stories, Tobias Wolff lives with his family near Stanford University, where he is the director of the creative writing program. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Wolff's story of his grim life from age ten through high school is a breath-taking recreation, filled with the sorts of longings that motivate sensitive young boys everywhere, but also filled with an a self-awareness that is rare in such autobiographies. Jack (Toby) is a rebel--a sometime kleptomaniac, thief, cheater, liar, and schoolboy miscreant who loves his mother, hates his stepfather (and generally tries to avoid him), and hangs out with similarly alienated, hell-raising schoolmates, who often "escape" through alcohol.
When his brother (who remained with his father), encourages Jack to apply as a scholarship student to an eastern boarding school, thereby escaping his stepfather, he is intrigued with the idea, though he has had few academic interests until then. The story of how Wolff manages to attend a prep school is a classic. (The fictionalized story of his boarding school life appears in his recent novel, Old School.Read more ›
I have browsed through some of the negative reviews of this text, and the criticisms contained within pertain to three points, which I shall attempt to redress here.
1. "I was set this book for my english high school course and it's rubbish"
Unfortunately, set-texts are often this way. At the end of the day, I fully appreciate how being forced to read a book that you have no interest in whatsoever may render the text lifeless, dull, and a chore. That said, most reading this review (perhaps to decide if 'This Boy's Life' is worth reading) will not be in this position; it is to those readers that I appeal to when addressing the criticisms that have been levied.
2. "The book has no feeling in it"
I concede that Tobias Wolff seems somewhat emotionless at times. His hollow style verges on numb. Yet this is just exactly what makes him interesting to read... he is honest about his experiences, his apparent nonchalance in the face of culpability, and his apparent detachment from certain others around him. Yet these qualities all make perfect, sound sense. Furthermore, I feel the same as he does, and respect him for speaking so frankly. His honesty slices away the prettiness that we all like to wear around our raw edges, and this makes Wolff's book actually worth reading.
3. "The book has no story or narrative, it's just this happened then that happened"
Again, this reviewer's point is justified - this is indeed Wolff's style, his story. Yet, again, I find no fault in this at all. Rather, I feel it is a strength, and supports the meaning within the story stoically.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very interesting story which is well worth a read. It came to my notice as a result of watching the movie of the book.Published on 3 July 2014 by Pies
Not finished it yet - I'm saving it. So far the narrator and his mother are equally cowed by dominant father-husband, who comes over as a psychopathic bully and egotist. Read morePublished on 20 Oct. 2013 by Mr. D. James
I saw the film first, and had always wanted to read the book it was based on. I was not let down in any way, it is far superior to the film, and very funny and moving all the way... Read morePublished on 2 July 2013 by Chanatkins
No complaints about delivery - arrived adequately packaged etc. But the description of the book was 'good', whereas I would put it more at 'poor'. Read morePublished on 9 Jun. 2013 by Jane Noonan
The honesty is remarkable. Wolff's childhood was hard and rebellious. He shows us how he survived it. I'll read more of his books.Published on 18 Mar. 2013 by Hermione Johnsen