National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
Old School

Old School

by Tobias Wolff

There is a need in us for exactly what literature can give, which is a sense of who we are… a sense of the workings of what we used to call the soul.


Tobias Wolff. Photo by Jennifer Hale.

T.C. Boyle is the author of many books of fiction, including Water Music (1981), The Road to Wellville (1993), The Tortilla Curtain (1995), Talk Talk (2006), and San Miguel (2012). Educated at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, he has been a professor in the English Department at the university of Southern California since 1978.

From 1993 to 2012, David Doughterty served as Headmaster of The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Before becoming Headmaster, he taught English and coached varsity baseball for twenty-one years. Tobias Wolff attended The Hill School.

Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is an acclaimed poet, critic, and literary anthologist. His third collection of poetry, Interrogations at Noon (2001), won the American Book Award. He has also written collections of essays, including Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992; 2002) and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (2004).

While a student at the Columbus Alternative High School in Ohio, Jackson Hille beat out 200,000 students across the country to become the first National Champion of the NEA's Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. In 2010 he graduated from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio.

Jonathan Lethem is the author of many books, including The Fortress of Solitude (2003), You Don't Love Me Yet (2007), and Chronic City (2010). His novel Motherless Brooklyn (1999) won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2005 he received a MacArthur Fellowship.

Best known for her short story collections, such as Self-Help (1985), Like Life (1990), Birds of America (1998), and The Collected Stories (2008), Lorrie Moore holds the Delmore Schwartz Professorship in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, where she has taught for more than two decades.

Musician and songwriter Zachary Schwartz, a.k.a. Zach Rogue, began the indie-rock band Rogue Wave after losing his job in the dot-com crash. He recorded and produced his first album, Out of the Shadow (2004), in his apartment, and was quickly signed to Sub Pop Records. Later, Rogue Wave released Descended Like Vultures (2005) and Asleep at Heaven's Gate (2007). Rogue Wave's fourth album is Permalight (2010).

Novelist Curtis Sittenfeld is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was the 2002-2003 writer-in-residence at St. Albans School in Washington, DC. Sittenfeld's first novel, Prep (2005), was a national bestseller. Her other novels include The Man of My Dreams (2006) and American Wife (2008).

Born in Birminghma, Alabama, Tobias Wolff is an acclaimed writer and teacher. He has written two memoirs—This Boy's Life (1989) chronicles his childhood, and In Pharaoh's Army (1994) describes his military service from 1964 to 1968, including a tour in Vietnam. His fiction includes the short-story collections In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (1981), The Night in Question (1996), and Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories (2008), and the novel Old School (2003). He teaches creative writing at Stanford University.

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