There's a joy in writing short stories, a wonderful sense of reward when you pull certain things off. – Tobias Wolff
Born June 19, 1945, Wolff is an American short story writer, memoirist, and novelist best known for his memoirs This Boy's Life and In Pharaoh's Army. And while he prefers short stories, he has written two novels, one of which, The Barracks Thief, won the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. For his array of short stories and life’s work, Wolff received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama last September.
While he was born in Alabama, he mostly grew up in the state of Washington
and it’s that backdrop that serves as setting for his award-winning This Boy’s Life.
His first short story collection, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, was published in 1981 and established him as one of America’s “new wave” of short story writers at what would become a renaissance, of sorts, for American short story writing. Several of his stories, which he continues writing to this day, have also been made into movies or television shows.
He said he likes to be able to experiment with writing styles and enjoys teaching them, too, something he has done since 1980, first at Syracuse and now Stanford (since 1997). Dozens of major writers have started under Wolff’s tutelage and cite his amazing poetic style for crafting short stories, something he said he gravitates toward in his writing.
“I believe that the short story is as different a form from the novel as poetry is,” he said, “and the best stories seem to me to be perhaps closer in spirit to poetry than to novels.”
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