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T.C. Boyle Stories
by T.C. Boyle
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 014028091X, Paperback)Skinny, earringed, satanically goateed, T. Coraghessan Boyle is the trickster figure of American letters. Part court jester, part holy fool, he slips in and out of various narrative disguises as it suits him. Nowhere is this more evident than in his short fiction, in which he bounces from psychological naturalism to giddy slapstick, dreamy surrealism to biting satire--sometimes within the space of a single tale. The sprawling and idiosyncratic T.C. Boyle Stories brings together his four previous volumes of short fiction, Descent of Man (1979), Greasy Lake (1985), If the River Was Whiskey (1989), and Without a Hero (1994), as well as seven previously uncollected stories, two of which have never before seen print. In both range and sheer heft, it's a remarkable collection, the more so since it represents an artist only midway through his career.
These stories find Boyle partying like it's 1999. He zeroes in on our age's most uncomfortable obsessions, its late-capitalist fetishes and millenarian fears: nervous Los Angelenos suckered into buying a Montana survivalist's retreat ("On for the Long Haul"); a hygienically obsessed girlfriend who insists on wearing a full-body condom ("Modern Love"); a rich, guilty couple suffocating under the weight of a lifetime's possessions ("Filthy with Things"). Elsewhere, he updates Gogol for late Soviet times ("The Overcoat II"), retells the death of blues god Robert Johnson ("Hellhound on My Trail"), even goes clubbing with that hot '90s property, the author of Mansfield Park ("I Dated Jane Austen"). Boyle's comic range is unparalleled, his timing razor-sharp as he skewers everyone from burglar alarm salesmen to the Beats. Like all tricksters, the author uses our own vanity and hypocrisy against us--but with barbs as witty as those found in T.C. Boyle Stories, not even his victims will mind. --Mary Park
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:49 -0400)
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