“Most of the time while reading this book I felt a huge guilt complex, because just last year I was sitting in a four person senior seminar with Tobias Wolff as a guest to talk about this book, and I hadn't read it! So I had tried bullshitting my way around the plot, trying to ask probing questions - and after reading this book, I know for a fact that everybody in that room must've known the gig was up, just based on my completely wrong assumptions. Like, "So why did you choose to have the narrator meet all these authors?" when, in fact... he meets none of them.
As far as the book goes, I really enjoyed the prose and felt motivated to finish it (especially since it was so tiny), but I didn't feel like the second half of the book followed from the first half. Without spoiling the ending, I just didn't think that the narrator's course of action grew organically from how his character had been developed. I feel like Wolff must have started out with this vision of what would happen, and then halfway through writing the novel, came up realizing that the two parts didn't fit together. I also didn't think the point of the book was some grand meta-theme about writing - even though it seemed to be trying so hard to do that. To me it felt like it was about acceptance and the power of being part of a group of boys. Which left me, as a girl, feeling admittedly a bit left out.
What's weird though is that similar books like A Separate Peace and Catcher in the Rye didn't give me this same feeling of being excluded or patronized. ”
Rachel Y wrote this review Sunday, October 3, 2010.