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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.Stories included are: "The Missing Person," "Say Yes," "The Poor Are Always With Us," "Sister," "Soldier's Joy," "Desert Breakdown," "Our Story Begins," "Leviathan," and "The Rich Brother." "Terrific...The magic of his fiction cannot be explained. It is the ancient art of the master storyteller."--Tim O'BrienFrom the Trade Paperback edition.
"The Barracks Thief" is the story of three young paratroopers waiting to be shipped out to Vietnam. Brought together one sweltering afternoon to stand guard over an ammunition dump threatened by a forest fire, they discover in each other an unexpected capacity for recklessness and violence. Far from being alarmed by this discovery, they are exhilarated by it; they emerge from their common danger full of confidence in their own manhood and in the bond of friendship they have formed. This confidence is shaken when a series of thefts occur. The author embraces the perspectives of both the betrayer and the betrayed, forcing us to participate in lives that we might otherwise condemn, and to recognize the kinship of those lives to our own.
The Barracks Thief is the story of three young paratroopers waiting to be shipped out to Vietnam. Brought together one sweltering afternoon to stand guard over an ammunition dump threatened by a forest fire, they discover in each other an unexpected capacity for recklessness and violence. Far from being alarmed by this discovery, they are exhilarated by it; they emerge from their common danger full of confidence in their own manhood and in the bond of friendship they have formed.This confidence is shaken when a series of thefts occur. The author embraces the perspectives of both the betrayer and the betrayed, forcing us to participate in lives that we might otherwise condemn, and to recognize the kinship of those lives to our own.
This is one of the most well edited collections of contemporary short stories on the market. It may be a few years old by now, but most of the "must read" writers, as well as surprisingly good lesser-known are included.
Whether he is evoking the blind carnage of the Tet offensive, the theatrics of his fellow Americans, or the unraveling of his own illusions, Wolff brings to this work the same uncanny eye for detail, pitiless candor and mordant wit that made "This Boy's Life" a modern classic.
Among the characters you'll find in this collection of twelve stories by Tobias Wolff are a teenage boy who tells morbid lies about his home life, a timid professor who, in the first genuine outburst of her life, pours out her opinions in spite of a protesting audience, a prudish loner who gives an obnoxious hitchhiker a ride, and an elderly couple on a golden anniversary cruise who endure the offensive conviviality of the ship's social director. Fondly yet sharply drawn, Wolff's characters stumble over each other in their baffled yet resolute search for the "right path."
One of the sinuous and subtly crafted stories in Tobias Wolff's new collection--his first in eleven years--begins with a man biting a dog. The fact that Wolff is reversing familiar expectations is only half the point. The other half is that Wolff makes the reversal seem inevitable: the dog has attacked his protagonist's young daughter. And everywhere in The Night in Question, we are reminded that truth is deceptive, volatile, and often the last thing we want to know.A young reporter writes an obituary only to be fired when its subject walks into his office, very much alive. A soldier in Vietnam goads his lieutenant into sending him on increasingly dangerous missions. An impecunious mother and son go window-shopping for a domesticity that is forever beyond their grasp. Seamless, ironic, dizzying in their emotional aptness, these fifteen stories deliver small, exquisite shocks that leave us feeling invigorated and intensely alive.From the Trade Paperback edition.
A young reporter writes an obituary only to be fired when its subject walks into his office, very much alive. A soldier in Vietnam goads his lieutenant into sending him on increasingly dangerous missions. An impecunious mother and son go window-shopping for a domesticity that is forever beyond their grasp. Seamless, ironic, dizzying in their emotional aptness, these fifteen stories deliver small, exquisite shocks that leave us feeling invigorated and intensely alive.
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 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. "From the Hardcover edition.
On Writing Short Stories, Second Edition, explores the art and craft of writing short fiction by bringing together nine original essays by professional writers and thirty-three examples of short fiction. The first section features original essays by well-known authors--including Francine Prose, Joyce Carol Oates, and Andre Dubus--that guide students through the process of writing. Focusing on the characteristics and craft of the short story and its writer, these essays take students from the workshopping process all the way through to the experience of working with agents and publishers. The second part of the text is an anthology of stories--many referred to in the essays--that give students dynamic examples of technique brought to life. In this second edition, author-editor Tom Bailey brings the text up-to-date with new and revised essays and a freshened anthology that retains many of the classics while adding new styles and diverse voices. In doing so, Bailey gives readers a broader scope of the short fiction landscape. New to this Edition: * Includes new and revised essays: Two new essays on workshopping by award-winning fiction writers Robert Boswell ("After the Workshop: Transitional Drafts") and Antonya Nelson ("Whose Story Is It? The Anonymous Workshop") introduce the latest techniques in the process. C. Michael Curtis updates his essay on "Publishers and Publishing" in order to take into account the rise of electronic and online publishing. Offers an expanded, diversified anthology of thirty-three stories , including works by short-short fiction and non-Western authors.
"One of our most exquisite storytellers"(Esquire)gives us his first collection in over a decade: ten potent new stories that, along with twenty-one classics, display his mastery over a quarter century. Tobias Wolff's first two books,In the Garden of the North American MartyrsandBack in the World,were a powerful demonstration of how the short story can "provoke our amazed appreciation," asTheNew York Times Book Reviewwrote then. In the years since, he's written a third collection,The Night in Question,as well as a pair of genre-defining memoirs(This Boy's LifeandIn Pharaoh's Army),the novellaThe Barracks Thief,and, most recently, a novel,Old School. Now he returns with fresh revelations--about biding one's time, or experiencing first love, or burying one's mother--that come to a variety of characters in circumstances at once everyday and extraordinary: a retired Marine enrolled in college while her son trains for Iraq, a lawyer taking a difficult deposition, an American in Rome indulging the Gypsy who's picked his pocket. In these stories, as with his earlier, much-anthologized work, he once again proves himself, according to theLos Angeles Times,"a writer of the highest order: part storyteller, part philosopher, someone deeply engaged in asking hard questions that take a lifetime to resolve. "
Autobiography of Wolff as a boy in the 1950s, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling. Separated by divorce from his father and brother, Toby and his mother are constantly on the move. As he fights for identity and self-respect against the unrelenting hostility of a new stepfather, his experiences are at once poignant and comical, and Wolff masterfully recreates the frustrations, cruelties, and joys of adolescence.
The thirty-three stories in this volume prove that American short fiction maybe be our most distinctive national art form. As selected and introduced by Tobias Wolff, they also make up an alternate map of the United States that represents not just geography but narrative traditions, cultural heritage, and divergent approaches. Contributors and stories include: Mary Gaitskill, "A Romantic Weekend"; Thom Jones, "A White Horse"; Andre Dubus, "The Fat Girl"; Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried"; Chris Offutt, "Aunt Granny Lith"; Raymond Carver, "Cathedral"; Joyce Carol Oates, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"; Robert Stone, "Helping"; Mona Simpson, "Lawns"; Ann Beattie, "A Vintage Thunderbird"; Jamaica Kincaid, "Girl"; Stuart Dybek, "Chopin in Water"; Barry Hannah, "Testimony of Pilot"; John Edgar Wideman, "Daddy Garbage"; Ron Hansen, "Wickedness"; Denis Johnson, "Emergency"; Edward P. Jones, "The First Day"; John L'Heureux, "Departures"; Ralph Lombreglia, "Men Under Water"; Leonard Michaels, "Murderers"; Robert Olmstead, "Cody's Story"; Jayne Anne Phillips, "Home"; Susan Power, "Moonwalk"; Amy Tan, "Rules of the Game"; Stephanie Vaughn, "Dog Heaven"; Joy Williams, "Train"; Dorothy Allison, "River of Names"; Richard Bausch, "All The Way in Flagstaff, Arizona"; Carol Bly, "Talk of Heroes"; Scott Bradfield, "The Darling"; Kate Braverman, "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta"; Richard Ford, "Rock Springs"; and Allan Gurganus, "Minor Heroism. "
Short stories by Andre Dubus, Chris Offatt, John Barth, Mary Gordon, Joyce Carol Oates, Frederick Busch, Barry Lopez and others. Authors contributed their stories, the proceeds of the book going to address hunger in the U.S