The winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction writes a memoir that brings to life the stuff of boyhood--from paper routes to whiskey, fistfights to friendship and betrayal--and captures as well America in the fifties.The winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction writes a memoir that brings to life the stuff of boyhood--from paper routes to whiskey, fistfights to friendship and betrayal--and captures as well America in the fifties.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2010-11-29 Wolff's well-regarded 1989 chronicle of his difficult childhood and adolescence is already considered a contemporary classic, and an avatar-for better and for worse-of the current memoir frenzy. Wyman reads with a certain downturned tone, where each sentence drifts into a melancholy fog. Try as he might, Wyman cannot lift the funk that hangs over Wolff's tale of youthful desperation and ambition, and ultimately adopts the book's bittersweet, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone. Wyman collapses the distance between himself and the book's narrator, so that we eventually come to mistake him for Wolff's Toby. A Grove paperback. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly, 1988-12-09 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. (Jan.)
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