One of Tobias Wolff’s classic tales, “The Liar” is the story of a deceitful teenage boy and his religious,
James is a liar. He enjoys inventing fantastic stories about
his family, particularly his mother. Margaret is orderly, stubborn, and
judgmental—a woman who throws rocks at hungry bears and never misses four o’clock
Mass. She loves her children but has always struggled with James. Like his deceased father, he’s fascinated by the darker aspects of life—car crashes, illness, and
crime. Dr. Murphy, the family physician who dabbles in psychiatry, believes
that James’ lying is harmless. His mother, however, thinks otherwise.
Written with candor and humor, “The Liar” is a meditation on one of the most pervasive
characteristics of human nature.
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