Back in the World
By Tobias Wolff
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679767961, 224pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 1996
List Price: $14.95*
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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