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4.1 out of 5 stars
Budding Prospects: A Pastoral (Contemporary American Fiction)
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Budding Prospects" is T. Coraghessan Boyle's first novel, published in 1984. It tells the story of Felix, a 31-year-old directionless self-proclaimed quitter who joins up with a handful of ne'er-do-wells to grow marajuana in a "Little Appalachia" in California's Mendicino County. The get-rich-quick scheme soon goes awry. Felix finds himself at odds with a sadistic rural sherrif. The man who bankrolled the operation, a shady smooth-talking Marin County huckster, is not the man Felix thought he was. His hillbilly neighbors all seem to know what he's really up to on the isolated farm. Felix and his farmhand friends live in a permanent state of paranoia and fear.

I came to this book after reading Boyle's "Drop City," a comic masterpiece. I wanted to read more Boyle so I took up "Budding Prospects." I greatly enjoyed it. I was surprised to discover that "Prospects," although it is Boyle's first novel, mines the same themes as his later novels: the vast indifference and occasional ruthlessness of nature, the pleasures and occasional terror of altered states of consciousness, the insolence of office and the proud man's contumely. In common with his other novels, there is a strong beautiful woman in this one -- Petra, who comes to the rescue of the hapless Felix.

I lived in Northern California and the Bay Area for many years, and I can attest to how spot-on the characters and landscape descriptions are. The dingy cafe in Willits where some of the action takes place is sickeningly realistic. I hope that Boyle will revisit Vogelsang in another novel or a short story. ("Vogelsang lived in splendid isolation in the hills above Bolinas, making money nefariously, practicing various perversions, collecting powertools, wood carvings, barbers' poles and cases of dry wine from esoteric little vineyards like Goat's Crouch and Sangre de Cristo.") The rich Marin County huckster was just perfect. And, a little grayer, I'm sure he's still living near Bolinas, waiting for Boyle to revive him.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Neither a waste of money nor time, Boyle's "Budding Prospects" is entertaining, funny from cover to cover and to a certain extent touching. At the core of the novel one finds a story of three bums growing marijuana in Northern California for $ a 500,000 profit. The problems and obstacles which the trio faces during their nine-month stay in Willits, CA are hillarious and realistic. Boyle's creativity and feel for the simple man's thoughts are to be praised.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
From the first sentence I was hooked. It was the first time in a long long time that I almost pissed myself laughing simply by reading a book. As soon as I finished, I went to the bookstore to buy up all his other books, and man, I was not disappointed. In my opinion, TC Boyle is the finest living writer, and one of the best ever. Most of the reviews I've read on his work focuses on the story and the characters, the loony, the obcessed, the psychotic - but they're missing the point. The writing is simply the finest construction of genius that you'll ever have the good fortune to witness. How does he do it? I don't know and frankly I don't care. I'm just happy to absorb.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Coming from Northern California (albeit 20 years ago), I am very familiar with Willits and home grown Humboldt Gold. I met those that attempted to cash in on the lushest crop of all and how they went about it. So, it was with amusement that I picked up this book and re-visited old territories and memories. (what I can remember, short term as they can be, and all.)
This was an entertaining, quick trip back to then, although I never was brave enough to attempt to garden this cash crop of pot. But, the characters in this book do, and for a while you think they might just pull it off, But then....... I"m not going to tell you.
Read the book. It was fun.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
A wonderful, quick read. T.C. Boyle's style reflects that of the whimsical, descriptive and casual ways of Hunter S. Thompson, yet with a unique flavor of its own. The characters are very well-developed; written as an imperfect, yet sympathetic (and, no matter how much one may want to deny it, EMpathetic) bunch. The story is extremely engaging, the action consistant, the humor non-stop. It is, perhaps, the best contemporary fiction I have read in ages. I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone looking for a little pick-me-up at the end of a stressful day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Tired of reading Nora Roberts and Nicolas Sparks; sappy plots and attractive people interacting and never smelling bad or acting inappropriately? Buy BUDDING PROSPECTS by TC Boyle; read about rats dead in traps at your feet and burnt bandaged arms raised for an unexpected showering interlude with a pottery person.

Laughing all through the read makes it take longer to get through the book, but once through you'll probably keep shaking your head like I did. Each paragraph is a well thought out original offering to readers who are looking for something besides cliches and sameness( boring boring).

Felix and Petra, a love story? A farming saga for the dysfunctionals? Gosh, the reading is good and the earthy, quirkiness... brilliant!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
The thing that keeps me coming back for more titles by Boyle is how his stories so accurately capture the weaknesses and foibles of the human spirit. He's so dead on with his descriptions, and that's what makes it all so funny for me. The chapter-opening paragraph on dirt is a masterpiece.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the year 2006 "Budding Prospects" is almost a period piece, set in a very different time and place, back when we didn't have cellphones and the internet, and the cops didn't have more sophisticated dope-locating technology. Since that era there was also been a declining enthusiasm to the weed out pot (to excuse the pun) in the wake of the more dangerous drugs that have popped up over the past two decades. The pace in this book never really slackened and I found the characters very vivid. My favorite character was the poor guy who has diarized every single moment of his life, only to have it all go up in smoke. That hurt, reading that passage. My least favorite was the cut-out cop whose character was razor-thin. The main characters, however, were fun. I enjoyed the way these guys were so damned paranoid about what they were doing -- fuelled no doubt by the copious amounts of weed they partook throughout their summer camp -- and despite the illegality of it all, as a reader I was on tenterhooks fearing their arrest at any point along the way. However, I do agree with other reviewers here that by about half way through the book, T. Coraghessan Boyle was beginning to dull me with the sack of metaphors he was continually bashing over my head. I would have liked his editor to have sat him down and said "Listen, T., you don't need to go out of your way to prove yourself. Tone down the metaphors by half." One other criticism is the actual story. After a raucous, bumpy ride for 250 or so pages, everything seemed to peter out by the end. The evil police officer gets his comeuppance. The calendar is just a joke. Vogelsang is, as we guessed from the moment we met him, not on the line. Nevertheless I enjoyed this book. Knowing what goes into cultivating marijuana now, I will never look at a joint in a blithe fashion ever again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
T. Coraghessan Boyle uses his mastery of the English language to bring his readers into the life of Felix, a San Franciscan who was a quitter. If you still believe that the life of a pot farmer is one of discrete posh and lavishness, please allow Mr. Boyle to argue otherwise. What a deal: Felix and a couple of his buddies are chosen to farm a crop of top grade cannibis, for a piece of the glorious fortune, along with the financier and the botanist, in a descrete part of California's infamous "Emerald Triangle." Place your trust with Vogalsang, the financier and fishflake eater, and expect a bountiful yield of laughs and intrige from this obscure American classic
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have read all of T C Boyle's novels and three of his collections of short stories. I picked up "Budding Prospects" while waiting for his most recent novel to be released. It was no disappointment even though it was his first novel.

The characters are well crafted and true to the time and place. The text is true to Boyle's fantastic descriptive abilities. And the story itself is a fine example of Boyle's wonderful talent of story telling. (Be sure, if you can, to attend one of his personal appearances and hear him read one of his short stories!)

The only other American author of our time who comes close to Boyle as an exquisite writer is Cormac McCarthy.
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