Sunday, July 17, 2016

This Boy's Life

Wolff, Tobias. Read by Oliver Wyman. This Boy's Life: A Memoir. HighBridge Audio,  2010. Audiobook.

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Summary (from Sync overview)
"First published in 1989, this memoir has become a classic in the genre. With this book, Wolff essentially launched the memoir craze that has been going strong ever since. It was made into a movie in 1993.
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 listeners come away exhilarated."
My Thoughts
When I saw this was an AudioSync selection this summer, I was excited, even though I had no idea who Tobias Wolff was. I was confusing him with Tom Wolfe (quite a DIFFERENT author). I started listening. When I realized my mistake, I still kept listening. When I thought about quitting it, something inside me (my completists-ness, as Donalyn Miller gave me this word/description in her book), made me keep listening. When I slogged through the slow parts and thought about deleting this book, I couldn't do it.

I had to find out what happened to Tobias/Jack. I had to know what his stepfather Dwight was going to do next (OH, he made me SOOOOOOOOO mad!). Dwight is abusive and a liar and presents himself as better than he is, and he is a JERK!

The story is set in the 1950s. Tobias' mother is a dreamer and a drifter. Mistake after mistake lands her and Tobias in Seattle where they first met Dwight. He has three children of his own (I can't remember if his wife's absence is explained or not). He is a dreamer of a different sort. When something doesn't turn out like he expects, it is never his fault. I couldn't believe that Tobias' mother would even date him, let alone marry him!

So now I know who Tobias Wolff was...maybe. I've always distrusted the veracity of a memoir because our minds don't always remember accurately. It's not that people set out to lie (or maybe some do), but our brains can't possibly be unbiased. Perhaps that's the point of why I had to keep listening to this one. I had to see Tobias' "truth."

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