There is a reason I like reading memoirs. I like reading something that is real, not something fake, or fictional, that is impossible or improbable, but something that could happen to anyone. As the old saying goes, "Truth is stranger than fiction."
This memoir does not disappoint. It covers Tobias Wolff's life immediately before, during, and immediately after the Vietnam War. Like many memoirs of the war, it shows the Vietnam War as a foolish and meaningless endeavor, fighting an enemy that can barely even be seen. It is not a memoir of a World War, where death and destruction are everywhere constantly. Instead, Wolff fights- if it can even be called fighting- an enemy that cannot be seen, cannot be counted, and casualties which at first glance are not even noticed. It is not only a story about Vietnam, though; it is also a story about maturity, how he takes his mess of a life, his near insane girlfriend, his strained relationship with his father, and his coming from a sad and dysfunctional background, and begins to straighten out himself. The book ends on a somber note, however; asking what would have happened if his close friend, one of the casualties of the war, had survived, what would have happened to him? And I think that in extension, Wolff is trying to ask a question commonly asked by those left behind in war: What would have happened to all those lost in war had they been given a longer chance at life?