The World of Tobias Wolff in 10 questions.
1. Who is Tobias Wolff and how did his work impact/influence the world we are living in now?
Tobias Wolff is an American writer, who’s primarily known for his memoirs and short stories, in which many voices and a wide range of emotions are skillfully depicted.
His fictions are built from reworked recollections, and his memoirs are edited versions of his personal history. Treating his characters honestly once he had developed them, Wolff dwells on realistic, telling moments that represent or challenge the lives of his own characters.
2. What are his famous works that you should know about?
This Boy’s Life: A Memoir (1989) - It describes the nomadic and uncertain life of Wolff's adolescence as he wanders the continental United States with his travelling mother and the subsequent marriage of his mother to an abusive husband and stepfather.
In Pharaoh’s Army (1994) - A records of Wolff’s U.S. Army tour of duty in Vietnam and recounting his military experience and experiences at Oxford.
3. What was his aspiration and inspiration?
The adventures and struggles of his youth, early adulthood and military service in Vietnam have provided Wolff with the inspiration for his fiction and the remarkable details of his memoirs.
“Fearlessness in those without power is maddening to those who have it.” - Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life
4. Who was inspired by his works?
This Boy’s Life was directed by Michael Caton-Jones, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Ellen Barkin while Bullet in the Brain was directed by David Von Ancken and CJ Follini starring Tom Noonan and Dean Winters.
5. How did he start writing?
Wolff was greatly influenced by his family, especially his brother, Geoffrey, who has superior storytelling talents. Both his father and mother were great raconteurs as well.
Wolff loved writing at a young age and began writing stories when he was just six years old. Being influenced by his brother, who introduced him to all kinds of writers he never knew existed, was the main reason it piqued his interest in pursuing writing.
6. Besides being known for a writer, what else was he interested in or famous for?
Wolff was a reporter at the Washington Post where he enjoyed being a reporter, more importantly, being around other reporters. Besides that, Wolff teaches in the English Department and the Creative Writing Program at Stanford.
Tobias Wolff receiving the National Medal of Arts
7. What were some of the interesting quirks surrounding Tobias Wolff?
Wolff forged his transcripts and recommendation letters in his teacher’s name in order to gain entrance to The Hill School but was later expelled in 1964 due to his math grades.
Wolff was presented the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in September 2015.
8. What are some of the awards he received?
Wolff’s short stories, novels, and memoirs have earned him an assortment of sought-after fellowships and grants, three O. Henry Awards in 1980, 1981 and 1985, and the prestigious 1986 PEN/Faulkner Award for the novella The Barracks Thief (1984).
“None of us become writers without first becoming readers.” - Tobias Wolff
9. How did critics react to his work?
Critics often refer to Wolff’s writing as dirty realism and some reviewers criticise his short fiction as gimmicky and argued that he often neglects to resolve his overly-complex plots.
10. What other works did he author that few people knew about?
Ugly Rumours was the first novel by Wolff. However, it does not appear in Wolff’s list of publications as he does not wish to attract attention to it by talking about it.
Did Wolff’s stories strike a chord with your inner self? Were there stories that you wish Gnome & Bow would weave into our leather bags and wallets? What intriguing wonders would become of it? Let us know in the comments below.
GREAT PEN WIELDERS is a monthly series that sets out to celebrate amazing writers, authors, novelists and illustrators whose beliefs, passions and talents inspired and changed the world we live in today. We believe that their stories and life experiences will foster Gnome & Bow’s vision to inspire storytelling without boundaries.