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Back in the World
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'Back in the World' by Tobias Wolff

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message 1: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Commentary on this short story collection.


message 2: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
I'm only 3 stories in, but I'm already totally in love with this collection. Wolff's stories remind me of all the things I love best about guys like Russell Banks: complexity, pitch perfect attention to detail, characters you feel you know intimately after only a few paragraphs. Can't wait to chat about this one.


message 3: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Ditto, all around. There's an emotional resonance to this stuff that gets under my skin.


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments So. Back in the World. Hah? Hah? Am I right?


message 5: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "So. Back in the World. Hah? Hah? Am I right?"

Best collection of comedic essays since David Sedaris' heyday.

What did you think, Jim? The show will go up on the morrow.


message 6: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 5 stars


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments I was never as in love with this collection as Matt and Dave seemed to be early on. Stories I did love were "The Missing Person" and "Soldier's Joy", the tale from which the book's title originated, and the only story in which I highlighted passages -- "Thinking about yourself. That's what kills you in the end."

My favorite story by far was "Say Yes," which I found elegant. Not a word wasted; even the title merits discussion. I can read the story aloud in about eight minutes (and yes I have), but could talk about it for much, much longer. So much going on in those few pages. And if you've ever argued with your partner, you can relate, especially when you eventually realized you were in the wrong (I know, the man in the story never does, but I'm hoping he will).

I fear I missed Wolff's point in several of these tales: "Sister," "Leviathan," "Our Story Begins" were non-starters for me. And "The Rich Brother" felt like a Biblical tale or a fable whose moral was lost on me.

Looking forward to hearing your discussion, as always.


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 498 comments *Yes, the predictable violence at the end of "Soldier's Joy" was a big drawback.
*Almost all of the stories were about people who wanted to escape, to get out of or away from situations which were of their own making.
*Most importantly, listening to your conversation reminded me that not caring for the characters in a story should not be mistaken for not liking the story itself.
*More Dr. Dog! But unceremoniously truncated. :(
Eh. Whaddaya gonna do.

Nice job, gentlemen.


message 9: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Jim and I had the same favorite story, so it was the best story. ;)

I think he does realize he was wrong, and finds that the return trip across the divide is much harder than the trip he took to get there. It's an interesting commentary on how it's possible that, after literally thousands of conversations, one seemingly innocuous conversation can carry heavy lasting repercussions.

I thought that Dr. Dog song ended abruptly! I was digging it.


message 10: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Whoa. Didn't realize Wolff himself read the story I was talking about on that 'This American Life' ep! Fab. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio...


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