Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not writing about the writing life (Books - Old School by Tobias Wolff)

What I like about getting to turn the clock back (literally, not figuratively) is that it was light out when I woke up, that there's Darjeeling in the pot, fruit and cereal in a bowl, I'm at my desk writing on a Sunday morning, and it's not yet 7.

I don't want to add too much more to my previous comments (here and here) about Tobias Wolff's novel Old School, because I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't yet read it, just to say that it is a marvelous book about how a formative experience in prep school was the making of a writer, and why that matters. Although Wolff would say:
The life that produces writing can't be written about. It is a life carried on without the knowledge even of the writer, below the mind's business and noise, in deep unlit shafts where phantom messengers struggle toward us, killing one another along the way; and when a few survivors break through to our attention they are received as blandly as waiters bringing more coffee.
After the retrospective events there is an epilogue which, unfortunately, I found much less interesting than the body of the story. It was as if there was a whole other story to tell, and yet it is relegated to an afterthought to this one. I was left dissatisfied by this epilogue despite the fact that its relationship to the events of the story-proper is crucial. That fact notwithstanding, this is a passionate book about the value of writing and is told in a way that gives one the feeling that it must be true. I still recommend it strongly.


Anonymous said...

I've been delaying the expected pleasure of this book for a while, but am looking forward to reading it soon. I find epilogues often are disappointing and wish authors wouldn't write them.

Anonymous said...

The epilogue was surprising but I can do without it.

Isabel said...

I usually don't read US writers, but I like this work.

I still need to write a review, though....