After reading Wisenheimer, I think I must have been the only person in the world who had no preconceived notions about people who defined themselves as debaters in their formative years. The way Mark Oppenheimer tells it though, you’d think that everyone has it out for debaters.

In his memoir, Wisenheimer, Oppenheimer tells about his lifelong love affair with words. With a style that has all the charm and readability of David Sedaris, Oppenheimer talks about what it’s like to live with a skill and a passion that has very little real world value.

He begins his tale in his childhood when he would annoy his mother with his incessant talking. But the real story begins when a young Oppenheimer is enrolled in school, from his (somewhat illegal) methods for dealing with a math-centric Montessori school teacher, to being the only junior high school student on the high school debate team and finally on to finding a place where he not only belonged, but excelled.

Wisenheimer gives an in-depth look into the world of high school debate, but more than anything, it’s an examination of what it’s like to have a talent that can all too easily push people away. The best part is that Oppenheimer writes it with a real flair that exposes the depth and the entertainment that a master of the English language can achieve.

Grade: A

Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate is currently available.