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.
"Not a word is wasted in this spare, brilliant novel about the way that reading changes and forms our lives, and about how one learns to become a writer - and a conscious human being." (Francine Prose, People)
"Wolff again proves himself a writer of the highest order: part storyteller, part philosopher, someone deeply engaged in asking hard questions that take a lifetime to resolve." (Carmela Ciuraru, Los Angeles Times)
"An elegant ode to writers, and to writing, from one of our most exquisite storytellers." (Adrienne Miller, Esquire)