Back in the World: Stories

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Overview

To American soldiers in Vietnam, "back in the world" meant America and safety. To Tobias Wolff's characters, Back in the World is where lives that have veered out of control just might become normal again. Unfortunately, the men and women in these gripping, pungent, and wonderfully skewed stories have only the vaguest notion of what normal is. A gentle priest finds himself in a Vegas hotel with a hysterical, sun-burned stranger. A show-biz hopeful undergoes a dubious audition in a hearse speeding across the ...

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Back in the World: Stories

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Overview

To American soldiers in Vietnam, "back in the world" meant America and safety. To Tobias Wolff's characters, Back in the World is where lives that have veered out of control just might become normal again. Unfortunately, the men and women in these gripping, pungent, and wonderfully skewed stories have only the vaguest notion of what normal is. A gentle priest finds himself in a Vegas hotel with a hysterical, sun-burned stranger. A show-biz hopeful undergoes a dubious audition in a hearse speeding across the California desert. An aging soldier is distracted from a night of philandering by a gun-toting neighbor and a suicidal enlisted man. As he moves among these unfortunates, Wolff observes the disparity between their realities and their dreams, in ten stories of exhilarating lucidity and grace.

Stories included are: "The Missing Person," "Say Yes," "The Poor Are Always With Us," "Sister," "Soldier's Joy," "Desert Breakdown," "Our Story Begins," "Leviathan," and "The Rich Brother."

"Terrific...The magic of his fiction cannot be explained. It is the ancient art of the master storyteller."—Tim O'Brien

"Wolff's stories are wonderful; they read like memories or premonitions, and are quietly unforgettable." Jayne Anne Phillips

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wolff (PEN/Faulkner winner for The Barracks Thief offers tales in the classic mode, maintaining unity of time, place and action. His characters and their dilemmas become recognizable in a few pages. ``The voice is crisp, the words are simple, the talk is laconic and everyday, but the questions these 10 stories pose are terrifying ones about good and evil,'' PW found. (October)
Library Journal
Readers of Wolff's first short-story vol ume, In the Garden of the North Ameri can Martyrs , and his recent, award- winning The Barracks Thief will not be disappointed by this new collection. Wolff retains his mastery for using one telling incident to epitomize the com plexities of ordinary life. His charac tersa failed priest, a teenager, a cyni cal soldierhave been cut off from the realities of life until a seemingly random event returns them to the flow of life, ``back in the world.'' As before, Wolff's terse melodramas of ordinary and unhappy lives inhabit a universe that is unremittingly bleak; even minor triumphs and good deeds are absorbed into its nothingness without a trace. A brilliant examination of life for those who can stand its grimness. Highly rec ommended. Shelley Cox, Southern Il linois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679767961
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/18/1996
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: 1st Vintage contemporaries ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 707,244
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.49 (d)

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