This Boy's Life: A Memoir

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9780060972776: This Boy's Life: A Memoir

In this unforgettable memoir of boyhood in the 1950s, we meet the young Toby Wolff, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, and ultimately winning. Separated by divorce from his father and brother, Toby and his mother are constantly on the move. Between themselves they develop an almost telepathic trust that sees them through their wanderings from Florida to a small town in Washington State. Fighting for identity and self-respect against the unrelenting hostility of a new stepfather, Toby's growing up is at once poignant and comical. His various schemes--running away to Alaska, forging cheeks, and stealing cars--lead eventually to an act of outrageous self-invention that releases him into a new world of possibility.

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Review:

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.

About the Author:

Tobias Wolff is the author of several story collections and two memoirs, including In Pharaoh’s Army, a finalist for the National Book Award, and the novel The Barracks Thief, which won the 1985 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

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