Monday, April 17, 2006

36. "Old School" ~ Tobias Wolff

I know Tobias Wolff is a big deal in the liter-ahry world. I just didn't know why. Of course, this is due to my inept literature schooling (a.k.a. "Do What You're Good At" - a nonfiction piece that will appear on the blog soon).

In Old School, the narrator competes against his fellow students at an eastern prep school to be the best... narrator. These young men pine for the best because then they meet the best: Robert Frost, a despicable Ayn Rand, and, eventually, Ernest Hemingway.

The unnamed narrator lusts after this prize to the point of obsession. Which, after all, is what being a writer is about, isn't it? This egotistical obsession that our material is worth something. In our hero's case, it brings a mish-mash of ethical dilemmas, some surprising, while others are hopelessly typical and believable. The beauty of Wolff is his ability to create empathy with this character.

4.0 out of 5.0 Red Apples.

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