April 22, 2008

Tobias Wolf

Heard on NPR this morning that Tobias Wolff, one of my favorite authors, has a new collection of short stories out entitled Our Story Begins.  

To provide a bit of symmetry with my last post, one of my favorite McSweeneys' features is Stephen Elliott's Poker Report, and one of my favorite entries is from February 12, 2005 (you've got to scroll down to it) in which Tobias Wolff makes a cameo appearance:

The party was filled with poets and storytellers and, eventually, after 6, upon Andrew Miller's arrival, a thief. Adam Johnson was throwing the party. Ron had mentored Adam before Adam found his own success with Emporium. Adam and Tom McNeely had made a gumbo. Sponsored by the English department, they'd bought hundreds of dollars' worth of fish and it swam in the oyster roux, a giant cast-iron pot in front of a white table in the long backyard.

There was some rain, which was fine. The rain grew stronger before it abated. I was in the kitchen with Ann and ZZ Packer, who aren't related but who both know a thing or two about how to get by in this world. I was listening intently when out of the corner of my eye I saw Andy Miller beneath the yard light speaking with Ron and Tobias Wolff. I thought it was odd, in a house full of writers, that Andy Miller would be alone in the back with Ron and Toby in the rain. I thought, There are two men who have influenced the shape of American literature, and there is Andy Miller, whom I invited because he works nearby and owns a truck. I've always liked dishonest people, and without Andy Miller, my life wouldn't be very interesting, but I'm also aware of the risks of bringing him into civilized society, particularly people I work with. Toby wore a leather jacket and a cap and was listening to Ron, who wore a waterproof jacket. Andy wore a cheap cotton coat, the kind that looks like wool but isn't. His face was pinched and plotting. A mist rose from Andy's curly hair.

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