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This Boy's Life (1989)

by Tobias Wolff

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,494384,127 (3.9)117
Wolff's account of his boyhood and the process of growing up includes paper routes, whiskey, scouting, fistfights, friendship, and betrayal in 1950s America.

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» See also 117 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Not what I was expecting but compelling reading. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 22, 2020 |
I don't read memoirs often. I don't even much care for the idea of a memoir. But as a fan of Wolff's poignant short stories, I gave this one a try. Surprisingly, Wolff pulls no punches. What's more, the punches are aimed at himself. He ruthlessly recounts his own childhood wickedness, his demented stupidity and the backwoods mentality he somehow nourished back into a keen understanding of human nature. Is this really a memoir? It reads like fiction, and good fiction. It reads like Ethan Canin. It could have been written by Ethan Canin.
I think you will get a lot of enjoyment out of this memoir, even if you don't know who this Tobias Wolff person is. I feel like if I read something like this by say, Don Delillo I'd just scoff. (Ethan Canin on the other hand...) But coming from the down-to-earth, unpredictable, charismatic Wolff, I buy it. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
I found myself unable to stop reading Tobias Wolff's memoir of his childhood. That's largely because he is such a good writer, but it is also because I know the Pacific Northwest locales where he grew up. It helps to have spent some time in Chinook, Concrete and Bellingham, where I have lived for 20 years; it helps to have visited Salt Lake City. It also helps to have been a scholarship kid at a rigorous Catholic high school, although we were all commuters. Wolff does not spare himself in this account, and his straightforwardness is a major virtue. ( )
  nmele | Dec 29, 2019 |
I was a little surprised by the vastness of this memoir. I kept expecting this climatic moment in his life where all the ironies came full circle, but I was mostly let down. As a reader I wanted to be rewarded for my efforts of committing to these stories by feeling like the journey was worth the lesson, but there was no such moment. Instead of a compact coming of age story in unfortunate circumstances, the book feels more like cathartic rambling. It was humorous and entertaining, but not a book I will feel like reading a second time any time soon. ( )
  vwarren_UNO | Apr 15, 2018 |
This Boy's Life is author Tobias Wolff's coming-of-age memoir. After his parents divorced, Wolff remained with his mother while his older brother lived with their father. There was almost always an abusive man in his mother's life. She wasn't the only one who suffered from the abuse. Tobias (who preferred the name “Jack”) suffered, too. With little parental supervision, Wolff unfailingly hooked up with the wrong crowd with every move. Deceit became second nature to Wolff. He lied, stole, and engaged in other delinquent behavior, likely for self-preservation. While I was moved by Wolff's circumstances, I also couldn't help wondering how deeply ingrained these habits are in Wolff's character. Might he be an unreliable narrator of his own life story? ( )
  cbl_tn | Apr 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wolff, Tobiasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wyman, OliverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"The first duty in life is to assume a pose. What the second is, no one has yet discovered." -Oscar Wilde
"He who fears corruption fears life." -- Saul Alinsky
Dedication
My stepfather, Dwight, always said that what I didn't know could fill a book. Well, here it is.
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Our car boiled over again just after my mother and I crossed the Continental Divide.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Average: (3.9)
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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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HighBridge

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

» Publisher information page

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