Kelly Ferguson's Reviews > Old School

Old School by Tobias Wolff
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Kelly Ferguson While I was living in Montana, one night some writer friends of mine went out in search of Ketchum, Idaho, more specifically the house where Hemingway killed himself. They left in the middle of a blizzard, and during the drive were assaulted by sundry wildlife—including a great white snowy owl and a herd of elk—as their car skidded on the ice. They arrived only to be shot at by whoever was there, a curmudgeon housekeep probably tired of wannabe writers embarking on the literary equivalent of ambulance chasing.

Hemingway does that to writers. Those were the days. He was the writer we all wanted to be. Wrapped in mystique. Drinking red wine in Europe. Revered by a literary audience.

We'll get back to Papa in a few sentences.

The only reason I didn't give this book five stars was 1) this might be a book written for a particular audience 2) the novel needed a little more tension for that fifth star. But would I recommend this book? Big YEP. That would be because I am the particular audience, meaning anyone whose a sucker for books about young men at boarding schools and the rivalries within, and anyone who went through a Hemingway phase.

Hemingway serves as the character that binds Old School, even though he never appears in person, except through a letter to one of the characters. He does haunt the book, though, the way these larger than life writers haunt apprentice writers, perhaps in a way that contemporary writers don't command anymore.

So. If you are a writer and you want to have a major geek out, get thee to this book immediately. Or I think Dad would like this book, a story of a time that doesn't exist so much in this jaded age, where young men with typewriters believed they had real power. I was I could go back in time and be one.


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