Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories
Tobias Wolff’s first two books, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs and Back in the World, were a powerful demonstration of how the short story can “provoke our ama...more
When it comes to mapping the calibrations of the human heart, no writer working today is as exacting a cartographer as Tobias Wolff. Bucking the modernist tide, Wolff writes shapely short stories with structural integrity about ordinary people with desperation haunting their souls. No meditative drift or open-ended conclusions for this writer; he’s an old-fashioned storyteller in the best sense of that word.
As amply demonstrated in Our Story Begins, a brilliant collection of hi...more
You could say he specializes in unreliable narrators, but I think that's too narrow a characterization. Wolff's narrators are all lacking in common sense and self-awareness, often to the point of being tragically oblivious. In fact, you could...more
Acclaimed writer Marianne Wiggins notes in the Los Angles Times: "When it's done well, the economy, the rigor, the precision that the [short story] demands are hardly noticed by its consumer. But it is more difficult to write, in its line-to-line execution, than any other narrative conceit. And Tobias Wolff is a genius at it." That assessment sums up the general opinion of Wolff's many reviewers, who praise his mastery of the form, his compassion, and his openness to life's many twists and turns...more
I had not read anything by Tobias Wolff before this, and found the entire volume to be very satisfying. One of the reviews on the back cover compares him to Chekhov, which is funny because I just so happened to be reading Chekhov concurrently. I see the similarities the reviewer points out, but...more
Reading Wolff is like taking a graduate level writing course on literary fi...more
A friend suggested I read one of the stories in the collection, one about a brother and sister who were abused as children, and the sis...more
- “Bullet in the Brain”, Tobias Wolff
Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain” is one of those stories that, no matter how many times I read it, will always bowl me over. Here, Anders, an obnoxious critic waiting in line inside a bank, is...more
Master of the craft
Wolff's greatest hits so far share precision of language, humor, moral complexity
By Jenny Shank, Special to the Rocky
Published March 28, 2008 at 12:05 a.m.
If any short story writer working today has earned the right to release his greatest hits, it's Tobias Wolff.
Wolff has been at the top of his game for a long time - so long that many young writers have probably grown old watching him hit homers while they sit on the bench, waiting for...more
Very few of the stories were a little over my head, but I got the jist of them (i.e. Lavaithin).
The short stories in this book are:
-In the Garden of the North American Martyr
-Hunters in the Snow
-The Rich Brother
-Dessert Breakdown 1968
Here's one passage I underlined, from "Mortals," about an obituary writer. It kind of capture my mood a lot lately.
"Since I was still on the bottom rung in metro, I wrote a lot of obituaries. Some days they gave me a choice between that and marriage bulletins, but most of the time obits were all I did, one after another, morning to night. After four mo...more
I'm about half way into this collection of stories. The narrator (Anthony Heald...more
Many stories juxtapose two different events, states or processes in the lives of their protagonists. This juxtaposition, in a subtle, irrational way defines precisely the person in question, like two points define a line. These people may be "unreliable", b...more
What I most admire about Wolff is his precision of the human psyche, of each character. He is disciplined, restrained, an...more
Others here have reviewed more eloquently what you might find intriguing and beautiful in these many little gems of contemporary literature. I don't think I disliked a single one, but t...more
He is best known for his short stories and his memoirs, although he has written two novels.
Wolff is the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, where he has taught classes in English and creative writing since 1997. He also served as the director of the Creative Writ...more