Review by Booklist Review
Wolff dreams of escape in his tragicomic autobiography, which describes his difficult rite of passage and his growing up Catholic in Seattle--with a mother he loves, a stepfather he hates, and a history of troublemaking he yearns to leave behind. Stephanie Zvirin (szvirin
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Wolff's fourth book, he recounts his coming-of-age with customary skill and self-assurance. Seeking a better life in the Northwestern U.S. with his divorced mother, whose ``strange docility, almost paralysis, with men of the tyrant breed'' taught Wolff the virtue of rebellion, he considered himself ``in hiding,'' moved to invent a private, ``better'' version of himself in order to rise above his troubles. Primary among these were the adultsdrolly eccentric, sometimes dementedwho were bent on humiliating him. Since Wolff the writer never pities Wolff the boy, the author characterizes the crew of grown-up losers with damning objectivity, from the neurotic stepfather who painted his entire house (piano and Christmas tree included) white, to the Native American football star whose ultimate failure was as inexplicable as his athletic brilliance. Briskly and candidly reportedWolff's boyhood best friend ``bathed twice a day but always gave off an ammoniac hormonal smell, the smell of growth and anxiety''his youth yields a self-made man whose struggle to fit the pieces together is authentic and endearing. Literary Guild alternate. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner award for The Barracks Thief , Wolff offers an engrossing and candid look into his childhood and adolescence in his first book of nonfiction. In unaffected prose he recreates scenes from his life that sparkle with the immediacy of narrative fiction. The result is an intriguingly guileless book, distinct from the usual reflective commentary of autobiography, that chronicles the random cruelty of a step father, the ambiguity of youthful friendships, and forgotten moments like watching The Mickey Mouse Club. Throughout this youthful account runs the solid thread of the author's respect and affection for his mother and a sense of wonder at the inexplicable twistings and turnings of the road to adulthood in modern America. Highly recommended. Linda Rome, Mentor, Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Wolff shifts to nonfiction in this jewel-like memoir of childhood in the 1950's. Despite the all-American props--Boy Scouts, cars, basketball--this boyhood unfolds light-years away from suburban heaven, offering instead a divorced mother and her angry son trying with little success to cut a piece of the American pie. Wolff sets the tone right off the bat, as he and his mom, driving to Utah to strike it rich as uranium prospectors, watch a truck careen towards a fatal crash. From then on, one dark episode follows another. Wolff recalls his early years in Florida, where he shoots arrows at friends and lies in the confessional. When he and his doting mom finally settle in Seattle, he becomes a petty delinquent, shoplifting, drinking, writing bad checks, breaking windows, scrawling obscenities on walls. Some of this seems reaction against his wealthy, estranged father, now dead, about whom he feels ""grief and rage, mostly rage."" Most adults treat him shabbily--a problem accentuated when his mother links up with a man named Dwight, a Lawrence Welk freak who smells of turpentine and brutalizes Wolff into husking chestnuts until his fingers bleed. He finds some relief in the Boy Scouts, which offers ""the clean possibility of mastery""; in high school, he dreams of running away to Alaska, but instead he escapes to a prep school in Pennsylvania. An honest memoir that puts a new spin on familiar boyhood rituals: many authors have recalled watching Annette on the Mickey Mouse Club, but how many write about their buddies shouting crude sexual come-ons at the screen? Lucid, bitter, precise, terribly sad: the real-life equivalent of Wolff's acclaimed fiction. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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