Each of the short chapters precisely details a specific moment of realization, however wayward and, at times, harrowing, that the author experienced on his bumpy, digressive path to becoming a writer. The result is a beautifully composed, accumulative portrait of Tuten at different stages of his young life ... What’s remarkable... is Tuten’s ability to transport you back in time ... For Tuten, there were not two roads diverging in the yellow wood. There was only the one he took: the one that he looks back upon and writes about brilliantly and tenderly.
'Fond' is the word that kept coming to mind while reading Frederic Tuten’s My Young Life ... [The book's] footnotes comprise some of the finest writing in the book, sudden chill winds of mortality that blow through this account of a young man trying to find his footing as an artist, and as an adult ... Tuten’s [memoir], dry and tender, brings something I don’t think I’ve ever encountered in any other young man’s artistic coming-of-age ... Often [a certain] kind of honesty results in the memoirist making the reader embarrassed for him, making us feel we are in his skin living through each humiliation. Tuten’s memoir has none of that. And that too seems a mark of its balance, the maturity of someone who has learned to stop obsessing over youthful foibles...
...[a] highly readable memoir ... In episodes recounted like snapshots in an album, Tuten traces intimacies of a two-decade journey ... Along the way, he shares with wry observation, pathos, and an unflinching honesty the portrait of a young man ... Tuten’s gently self-deprecating yet humorous reflections cover the linked adolescent preoccupations with creative venturing and romantic/sexual adventuring ... In the end, Tuten’s achievement is in telling a story that is at once his own while also being universally familiar.
In a series of brief, vivid scenes, novelist Frederic Tuten takes us from his boyhood in the Bronx of the ’40s and ’50s to the brink of his adult achievements as a writer, teacher, and critic ... The reader comes away with a dazzling sense of a time when the arts had fewer guardrails, tremendous change was on the way, and liverwurst sandwiches were available everywhere.
A familiar coming-of-age memoir about a young New Yorker who dreams of literary success ... Tuten pairs this relatable naiveté with too many tales of girlfriends and sexual exploits, but this is appropriate from an author who once considered Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to be 'a manifesto for my liberty.' The author’s intellectual ambitions, while compelling and at times inspirational, are not particularly unique. The memoir’s perfunctory finish reveals the lack of any substantive arc ... An unabashed reminiscence that never fully coheres.
...a stirring portrait ... His description of the bars and cafes he frequented in order to 'live intently' bring to life the city that shaped him ... This is a wonderfully raw story of city boy’s transformation into a writer.