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The Life Neurotic With Noah Baumbach’s Midwood High Alums

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Noah Baumbach may not seem quite ready to leave the old days behind—see his semi-autobiographical film The Squid and the Whale—but his fellow Midwood High School alumnus Carol Henning is positively obsessed. Last week, she called in to Brian Lehrer’s WNYC radio show and read from a 1987 preface that Baumbach wrote for Midwood’s literary magazine, Patterns (he was editor-in-chief; she wasn’t). It was about a struggling writer, Jim, whose wife and two children leave him, and it bears striking similarities to the movie’s plot. Reached at her home in Brooklyn, Henning, who is an application developer at a large law firm, said, “Everyone was baffled by the preface when it came out. And then almost twenty years later, when I saw The Squid and the Whale, it finally made sense.” So, what was Baumbach like in high school? Henning, apparently nursing a grudge (“I was a convenient object for ridicule”), delivers the goods: “He was very full of himself,” she declares. “He was arrogant, obnoxious, smug, successful, and self-aggrandizing.” Just like the kid in the movie.

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