In short, he wants to tell us that stories ask many more questions than they can ultimately answer. “Stories leave things out and introduce a shape, or an order, that no one noticed at the time or the moment,” he writes in the coda. “And if this book … ends with a large decision, still the larger quandary that prompts it is left unsettled. So I must admit that I recognize that you might feel you need and deserve more. I feel the same about myself.”

Thomson is being a bit hard on himself. Ambiguity may be unsettling in our own lives, but it is exactly what imparts three-dimensionality to a narrative, and makes us want to turn the page. Leave the tidy endings to Hollywood. Thomson has given us a tender, unsentimental picture of his youth, with all its messiness and mystery intact, and a reader can’t ask for more than that.

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Michelle Vellucci writes about dance and the arts in New York City.