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Realism and Invention in the Stories of Tobias Wolff

  • Date Submitted: 10/08/2011 11:50 AM
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Winging It: Realism and Invention in the Stories of Tobias Wolff Author(s): Martin Scofield Source: The Yearbook of English Studies, Vol. 31, North American Short Stories and Short Fictions (2001), pp. 93-108 Published by: Modern Humanities Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3509376 . Accessed: 08/10/2011 13:01
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Winging It: Realism and Invention in the Storiesof Tobias Wolff
MARTIN SCOFIELD
of University Kent

What is the best way to get a critical purchase on the stories of Tobias Wolff? Inevitably, he has hitherto been put in the critical filing cabinet in one of the sections of the drawer marked 'Realism'. As long ago as 1963 Gordon Becker wrote in the introduction to his Documentsof ModernLiteraryRealism: 'Certainly it would add to ease of discourse in the future if whatever happens next should be given a new name, and not be tagged with some variant or permutation of the word "realism".'' But this has not prevented the persistence of the (more or less serious) permutations: 'Dirty Realism' (Granta, 8 (Summer I983), a volume that brought together work by Wolff, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford,Jayne Anne Phillips, Bobbie Ann Mason, and others), 'New Realism', 'Neo-domestic Neo-Realism', 'Wised Up Realism', or John Barth's engaging parody of the Polonius-like yen for...

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