THIS BOY'S LIFE
by Tobias Wolff
Atlantic Monthly Press
288 pages; $18.95
Nobody expects memoirs by the rich or infamous to be gracefully written; expectations center on how much is dished up, not on the table manners involved. But the rules change markedly when it comes to autobiographies by the lesser known. Everybody, after all, has a life story, and the reluctance to spend money and time on a relative stranger's is considerable. This, the wary reader is likely to mutter, had better be good.
This Boy's Life proves good enough to be unforgettable. Tobias Wolff, 43, is the author of...