To American soldiers in Vietnam, “back in the world” meant America and safety. To Tobias Wolff’s characters, Back in the World is where lives that have veered out of control just might become normal again. Unfortunately, the men and women in these gripping, pungent, and wonderfully skewed stories have only the vaguest notion of what normal is. A gentle priest finds himself in a Vegas hotel with a hysterical, sun-burned stranger. A show-biz hopeful undergoes a dubious audition in a hearse speeding across the California desert. An aging soldier is distracted from a night of philandering by a gun-toting neighbor and a suicidal enlisted man. As he moves among these unfortunates, Wolff observes the disparity between their realities and their dreams, in ten stories of exhilarating lucidity and grace.
Tobias gives an overview of the book:
Born in Alabama in 1945, Tobias Wolff traveled the country with his peripatetic mother, finally settling in Washington State, where he grew up. As a scholarship student, he attended the Hill School in Pennsylvania until he was expelled for repeated failures in mathematics in...
So absolutely clear and hypnotic is Tobias Wolff’s painful memoir of growing up in the 1950s that a reader wants to take it apart and find some simple way to describe why it works so beautifully.
Who wants to read yet another novel about a teenage boy … who feels awkward and out of place at a New England prep school? Then again, you know you’re in the hands of a great writer if you think you’ve...