Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Other Miller – Tobias Wolff

I’ve written here several times about my struggles in identifying whether or not I consider myself a writer – will ever consider myself a writer or if I will ever even write – at least something more than what I push out here.

I picked up a great little book from work (Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon) that has given me some great tips for improving this space as well as possibly helping me decide on the whole “writer” thing above.

In addition to the many purposes that this project is serving, one that I didn’t readily pick up upon until reading Kleon is that I believe that this space provides a nice platform to study my favorite authors. If one were to analyze post length on an author or a particular story, you would see that Gardner, Oates, Updike, Carver and Wolff all receive much more attention than others. If I were to narrow that list even further, I’d say that Oates, Gardner and Updike are my top three.

A writer that I have included in my top five that I intend to apply my microscope to is Tobias Wolff. There are a couple collections of his shorts that look well worth purchasing.

My attraction to him? Not sure yet. Just one of those writers I really enjoy. I enjoy listening to him talk as well. I suppose I can say that about all five of my favorite authors. Carver’s smoke battered throat, Updike’s excess spittle slipping through the small spaces in his teeth, Oates’ sing-songy sentences and Gardner…well, his voice surprised me – it was nasally and higher pitched than I imagined.

Perhaps I am reaching out to Wolff through some of our shared education. Military school during developmental years leaves a lasting impression that colors and enormous parts of your life years after leaving it.

So – The Other Miller.

A decent little story. I don’t know if I’d call the ending contrived but…yeah, it wasn’t hard to see it coming.

There is a scene towards the end of the story where Miller is waiting for two other soldiers as they have their fortune told by a gypsy. It’s a period where Miller has the chance to think back on his life – specific points and how they solidify his view of the future – his future. It’s a space where he is alone and with his thoughts. He is moving forward in time in silence – something that is lacking in this world.

Quiet thinking. Doing nothing. I need to do more of that. My head is too full of noise; I always feel the need to have something being fed into it. Simple quiet pondering is missing.

So, in a way nothing is what is missing.

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