Alik's Reviews > Our Story Begins

Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff
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May 29, 12

Read from May 06 to 22, 2012

These are piercing stories. Many of them are told by or about children of different ages, adolescents, but also adults. They usually start out in a state of hopelessness and are driven to despair by the end of the story, possibly elated by it.
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", but Wolff gives us just enough to peel off layers of decorative rationalization and then, conclusively and inexplicably, they snap into that window, or rather we snap into their mind, that we are unable to understand and yet can see from within for a brief lucid moment. That is Wolff's epiphany.
And what Wolff manages to achieve in a few pages of each story is attained with unfailing precision of style, each word falling into place, nothing lost either within or without.

This is a sad kind of prose, but the sadness and shame that it evokes in the reader might be turned into insight and catharsis. It is, in any case, difficult to shake off.
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