Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wolff, Tobias (Old School)

I think I can safely say this is the best book I've read this year.

I do not profess to ever having been versed in or studious of English literature. Consequently, I miss a lot of stuff when I read novels. Themes, metaphors and symbolism frequently (and disturbingly) go right over my head. I freely confess that I needed a small kick (a short snippet from The New York Times Book Review) to get me started with this book-- a tale of a writing-inclined boy at prep school in the 60s-- but that was all.

It is multi-layered. It is meta. It is redolent (perfumey, nostalgic). It is light and simple and weighty and meaningful at the same time. The theme-- that truth in fiction and in non-fiction is a whole lot harder than it seems-- fills every single page. While there have been detractors of this novel (Wolff is more known for his short stories and that is obvious here), none of it matters next to the beauty of his prose, his style and his ideas.

Read it, you will not be sorry.