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Book #29 - Old School by Tobias Wolff

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Aug. 2nd, 2007 | 09:26 am

This is the most brilliant book I've ever read. You will especially like it if you a) write, b) read the 'classics' or c) are of above-average intelligence.

"I was discovering the force of my will...I understood that nothing stood between me and my greatest desires - noting between me and greatness itself - but the temptation to doubt my will and bow to counsels of moderation, expedience, and conventional morality, and shrink into the long, slow death of respectability" (68).

(Here, the narrator - a student - is responding to a story written by Hemingway)
"I judged [Hemingway], but I also understood that he'd allowed me to, and this was chastening. Knowing that readers like me would see him in [his character], he had given us a vision of spiritual muddle and exhaustion almost embarrassing in its intimacy. The truth of these stories didn't come as a set of theories. You felt it on the back of your neck" (97).

(Here is the narrator's reflection on years of pretending to be someone he's not)
"By now I'd been absorbed so far into my performance that nothing else came naturally. But I never quite forgot that I was preforming. In the first couple of yeras there'd been some spirit of play in creating the part, refining it, watching it pass. There'd been pleasure in implying a personal history through purely dramatic effects of manner and speech without ever committing an expository lie, and pleasure in doubleness itself: there was more to me than people knew!" (109).

The best part is the ending, but I don't want to ruin it for you ;)

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