The elite prep school in Old School is something of a dream for budding writers: literature is beloved, authors are held up high, and the most sought-after competition is not football or soccer, but the annual contest that rewards a sit-down with that year’s esteemed judge. In November 1960, it’s Hemingway, and the narrator, a scholarship kid trying to conceal his Jewish background, will do anything to win. He ultimately pays the price for his proclivity to deception—not unlike Wolff, who forged his transcripts to get into the elite Hill School and was later expelled.
There’s something fascinating in trying to figure out what part of fiction is true; maybe at heart, we all have a little penchant for voyeurism. Writers have been using their lives for inspiration for as long as there have been bildungsroman and first novels, but it’s a more recent phenomenon to deliberately blur the lines of what happened and what didn’t. In these fourteen works of autofiction, authors create story using their own lives, losses, and sometimes even their names.
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