ENG 111: College Reading and Writing (Weber)

Prompt Description

Prompt for Paper: The Critical Reception to This Boy’s Life

Research the critical reception to This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff’s memoir from 1989.  You must cite at least ten secondary sources, not including the memoir itself.  Draw only upon contemporary sources.  That is, use only book reviews that were responding to the initial publication of the book--those published in 1989 or possibly a year or two later.  Do not draw upon reviews of the film adaptation; the film was released in 1993. 

Explain the nature of the critical reception to the book.  That is, what primary trend do you see in the reviews?  Did the reviewers find the book poorly written?  If so, what aspects of the book did they dislike?  Or did they focus on the unreliable nature of autobiography?  Or on themes such as child abuse or guilt?  Or did they instead get sidetracked by the presence of the crazy stepfather Dwight?  If so, what aspects of Dwight’s characters did they focus on?  Report to those of us who have not read the reviews what you found by canvassing the critical response.  Offer a unifying thesis statement and organize each body paragraph under a topic sentence that offers a sub-point to the thesis statement.

This Boy's Life