Old School Author:Tobias Wolff The author of the genre-defining memoir This Boy’s Life, the PEN/Faulkner Award–winning novella The Barracks Thief, and short stories acclaimed as modern classics, Tobias Wolff now gives us his first novel. — Determined to fit in at his New England prep school, the narrator has learned to mimic the bearing and manners of... more » his adoptive tribe while concealing as much as possible about himself. His final year, however, unravels everything he’s achieved, and steers his destiny in directions no one could have predicted.
The school’s mystique is rooted in Literature, and for many boys this becomes an obsession, editing the review and competing for the attention of visiting writers whose fame helps to perpetuate the tradition. Robert Frost, soon to appear at JFK’s inauguration, is far less controversial than the next visitor, Ayn Rand. But the final guest is one whose blessing a young writer would do almost anything to gain.
No one writes more astutely than Wolff about the process by which character is formed, and here he illuminates the irresistible power, even the violence, of the self-creative urge. Resonant in ways at once contemporary and timeless, Old School is a masterful achievement by one of the finest writers of our time.« less
I liked this book. It seemed to me to be a series of short stories about a boy growing into a man. The boy is the same individual throughout the chapters with very different experiences. He tells all the stories. When he uses another's story in a senior writing competition for Ernest Hemingway he wins but is expelled from school. The master who drives him to the train station tries to tell him that he will recover from this incident but doesn't quite know how to tell him so. Life brings other experiences and the young man becomes the writer he wanted to be but finds it difficult to reconcile this experience in light of his success. The last story about the former dean returning after resigning is my favorite tale. It seems disconnected to the rest of the book but I loved it. The connection is that the former master who drove him to the train station is telling him the former dean's story. This read helps one understand the pressures of writing competition in a boys school. In addition, the book is a maturing of one individual writer. There is much about the idolizing of famous writers and the mimicking of their work. As I read it I thought about a story I wrote in college about a green plaid dress. My mother had a habit of dressing my sister and I alike and I hated that dress because of it. When the assignment came I decided to convince the teacher that I loved the dress. It worked. I couldn't help wondering how much of this book is turned about in the same way.