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A Friend of the Earth (2000)

by T. C. Boyle

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9571721,027 (3.67)43
Fiction. Literature. Humor (Fiction.) HTML:One of LitHub‚??s "365 Books to Start Your Climate Change Library"
‚??Fiction about ecological disaster tends to be written in a tragic key. Boyle, by contrast, favors the darkly comic.‚?Ě ‚??Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction
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Originally published in 2000, T. C. Boyle‚??s prescient novel about global warming and ecological collapse

It is the year 2025. Global warming is a reality. The biosphere has collapsed and most mammals‚??not to mention fish, birds, and frogs‚??are extinct. Tyrone Tierwater is eking out a bleak living in southern California, managing a pop star's private menagerie that "only a mother could love"‚??scruffy hyenas, jackals, warthogs, and three down-at-the-mouth lions.
It wasn't always like this for Ty. Once he was a passionate environmentalist, so committed to saving the earth that he became an eco-terrorist and, ultimately, a convicted felon. as a member of the radical group Earth Forever!, he unwittingly endangered both his daughter Sierra and his wife Andrea. Now, just when he's trying to survive in a world torn by obdurate storms and winnowing drought, Andrea comes back into his life. 
T. C. Boyle's eighth novel blends idealism and satire in a story that addresses the ultimate questions of human love and the… (more)
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» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
In this tragic comedy off errors, T.C. Boyle confronts us with an anti hero of sorts. Ty Tierwater an alcoholic, angry environmentalist tends to take his protest actions too far, which has huge consequences for him, but even more for his family. Boyle manages to create the reader sympathy for his less than perfect protagonist by having Tierwater narrate some chapters of the book. Other chapters are written of a omniscient narrator's point. Then there are chapters set in the future (2025/26), when climate change is taking its toll on humans, animals and plants alike, and in the past(late 1980's/ 1990', when activist try to stem the tide of global warming. Boyle uses this device to build the tension. The "future" scenes allow him to allude to thing that happened in the past, for example that Tierwater has had several stints in jail. In the flashbacks we find out gradually how all this cam about.
Every page is action packed and full of humorously absurd situations in which Ty Tierwater finds himself.

I am wondering what Boyle's goal was in writing this book. Did he want to show how hard it is to be an environmental activist. Is is a spoof on the environmental movement? Or did he just want to write an entertaining book about a big issue?

No matter what, I enjoyed reading "Friend of the Earth." ( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
Well written, but not exactly enjoyable, because of its deeply cynical and pessimistic view of the eco-consciousness and eco-activism. Whether you gleefully drive a smog-belching gas-guzzler everywhere, take public transit and recycle carefully, or sneak out at night to monkey-wrench strip mines and clear-cutting timber operations, this book will make you feel miserable about your choices. Sigh. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
Bleak and strange. Boyle hammers his message a lot more than usual in this book. Probably because environmental disaster is one of his hobby horses. I didn't understand what the payoff was supposed to be for this one since from the start things have a foregone conclusion. The story takes place in a near future "present" where global warming as killed off pretty much everything and most areas of the world are uninhabitable. That's the given. Then it flashes back to the 80s and 90s, but there really isn't a moment when everything changes. We aren't privy to the disaster just its lead up and aftermath. All the characters are hapless, doomed or both and it wasn't a good time. ( )
  Bookmarque | Jun 30, 2018 |
Here's the truth: I HATE the cover of this book. As in, HATE, to the point where it was tempting to tear it off and throw it away, and I rather wish I had, but for the fact that that would have made the book difficult to give away. And I don't always pay attention to covers. I've never hated one, certainly. But this one? Yeah--I hate it. Maybe that shouldn't matter--it probably shouldn't, I suppose--but it does. This book literally sat on my shelf, traveling with me for five or six moves over the course of about a decade because, as much as it sounded like something that I would love... I kept on putting it back on the shelf when I thought about the prospect of seeing its cover, day in and day out, for however long I'd be reading it. And while reading it, over the past week and a half, I did my best to keep it facing down so that I could do my best to ignore the cover One way or another, it influences me, and seeing it in the corner of the page as I write this review makes it impossible to ignore.

So, does that edge down my review? It might. Did that make me skeptical or set my sights higher as I entered the book? Maybe so. Probably so. But the book was a gift, and the person who gave it to me was right in thinking I'd enjoy the story. If it were up to me, the cover would have kept me from buying it.

Why am I harping on this? Well, because it colors how I feel about the book, unavoidably.

I did enjoy Boyle's writing here, and I enjoyed the story, once I got into it (which took quite a while, I have to admit). The jumping from past to present, and back again, is effective, even if it doesn't necessarily add suspense. I'm anxious to read more of his work, truth be told. But at the same time, there's a really certain cynicism here that turned me off, and the cover is just a sign of it. The main character's voice is so cynical, in fact, that I found it almost impossible to engage with him--I was interested, on some level, but more out of curiosity than sympathy. And this was a character that, truly, I should have loved and been heartbroken by. But I wasn't. And the pessimism compelling the book forward, soaking the paragraphs, made it a less than enjoyable read. As a result, I'm not actually sure who I'd recommend this to, short of English students or academics looking for a particular type of read. Even now, I'm not really sure how I feel about it. And I probably could have walked away from it for weeks on end... if I hadn't been desperate to finish it so that I could never look at the cover again.

All told, I'm anxious to read more of Boyle's work. I'm not sure that reading this one, though, was worth dealing with the cover. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jun 9, 2017 |
I couldn't get through it.
1 vote Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Boyles Roman ist wieder hochtourig erz√§hlt, mit manchmal bis zum Abwinken grellen Bildern und Vergleichen. Doch dass sich beim Rezensenten allm√§hlich ein gewisser √úberdruss gegen diese Erz√§hlmasche bemerkbar macht, muss nicht gegen die Qualit√§t des Romans sprechen. "Ein Freund der Erde" ist wieder vorz√ľglich √ľbersetzt von Werner Richter, dem Entdecker T. C. Boyles f√ľr den deutschen Sprachraum: "Der Wald - dieser Wald, unser Wald - kehrt zur√ľck, die Sch√∂√ülinge neuer B√§ume erheben sich aus dem Friedhof der alten, Espen sch√ľtteln ihre Bl√§tter mit einem Ger√§usch, das wie Applaus klingt".
 
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Ein jeder Geist baut sich ein Haus und hinter seinem Haus eine Welt und hinter seiner Welt einen Himmel. Wisse also, da√ü die Welt f√ľr dich existiert. (Ralph Waldo Emerson "Natur")
The earth died screaming
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Ich verf√ľttere gerade Kraftkekse und H√ľhnerr√ľcken an die Hy√§ne und tue mein Bestes, um nach dem letzten Unwetter einigerma√üen aufzur√§umen, als das Telefon klingelt.
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Fiction. Literature. Humor (Fiction.) HTML:One of LitHub‚??s "365 Books to Start Your Climate Change Library"
‚??Fiction about ecological disaster tends to be written in a tragic key. Boyle, by contrast, favors the darkly comic.‚?Ě ‚??Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction
 
Originally published in 2000, T. C. Boyle‚??s prescient novel about global warming and ecological collapse

It is the year 2025. Global warming is a reality. The biosphere has collapsed and most mammals‚??not to mention fish, birds, and frogs‚??are extinct. Tyrone Tierwater is eking out a bleak living in southern California, managing a pop star's private menagerie that "only a mother could love"‚??scruffy hyenas, jackals, warthogs, and three down-at-the-mouth lions.
It wasn't always like this for Ty. Once he was a passionate environmentalist, so committed to saving the earth that he became an eco-terrorist and, ultimately, a convicted felon. as a member of the radical group Earth Forever!, he unwittingly endangered both his daughter Sierra and his wife Andrea. Now, just when he's trying to survive in a world torn by obdurate storms and winnowing drought, Andrea comes back into his life. 
T. C. Boyle's eighth novel blends idealism and satire in a story that addresses the ultimate questions of human love and the

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