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T.C. Boyle Stories Paperback – November 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A premier practitioner of short fiction, Boyle (Water Music) gathers two decades worth of work in one volume of almost 70 stories, adding seven pieces (three previously unpublished) to the contents of his previous four collections. The entries are organized thematically, evenly divided among "Love," "Death" and "And Everything In Between"; thus chronology is jumbled and early pieces flank more recent ones. The "Love" stories are so polished and sophisticated they all but glitter. In them, very often a hapless male, modestly hoping merely to get laid, encounters an obsessed woman and finds himself eventually undone. Sex itself is not especially important to Boyle, but obsession is. Obsessions of one sort or another (animal activism, germophobia, Elvis, frogs, squirrels, whales) inform these stories, which sparkle with wicked wit and exuberant prose. The last "Love" story serves as a sad transition to the tales of "Death." "Juliana Cloth" chronicles the way a sexually transmitted virus decimates an African town, and a girl goesAknowinglyAto an embrace that will kill her. The cumulative effect of the "Death" section, though, is numbing, repetitiously grotesque and finally gratuitous. However, the collection's texture quickens in the last section, "And Everything In Between," a potpourri of chilling fables. Throughout Boyle's work, real people (Eisenhower, Khrushchev, Carry Nation, Robert Johnson, Mao, Jack Kerouac, Jacques Cousteau) appear in narrative out-takes that are invariably amusing and, like Boyle's more serious work, mordant, worldly and irreverent. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014028091X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140280913
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

T. C. Boyle is the author of eleven novels, including World's End (winner of the PEN/FaulknerAward), Drop City (a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award), and The Inner Circle. His most recent story collections are Tooth and Claw and The Human Fly and Other Stories.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By edzaf on March 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
T.C. Boyle is probably one of the greatest contemporary (and most under-read) American authors that we have. I have read many of Boyle's novels, and though while not being a fan of the short story genre, I thought I would give this massive collection of 70 short stories a try. If anything it has made me a greater fan of this talented author. Boyle excels in the shorter format bringing us tales that are highly imaginative. A warning to the Boyle uninitiated, these stories are very eccentric with a lot of dark humor throughout. Just when you think the author could not come up with a more a possibly more bizarre premise, he tops it in a later story.
Boyle has a wonderful command of language and readers will be amazed by how he can created a total picture with minimal words. For example, in a story I read recently, he wrote "the house... seemed almost to sink under the weight of its mortgage." Boyle consistently creates this kind of amazing imagery throughout these stories. From full-body condoms to a struggling game safari in the California desert to a women who keeps squirrels as pets - it is almost guaranteed that you have never read anything as original or inventive as these Boyle stories. Do yourself a favor and pick up "T.C. Boyle Stories" -- and take your time and savor (I usually read a handful of stories between novels)!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By S. Henderson on November 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
T.C. Boyle is one of my favorite modern short-story writers (William Trevor is another) and you can drop in on any of these and be swept into his quirky worldview and be out in less than 20 minutes. The same can't be said for his overwrought, baggy novels but thank goodness for this collection that keeps it altogether (now I can throw out all those paperback editions of his short fiction). There are too many wonderful stories to choose a favorite here but here's a suggestion for prospective buyers. Go to a favorite bookstore that let's you sit and read, pick any story in this volume and read it and if you like it, go home and order it here. THE REST IS EASY because T.C. Boyle's a very consistent writer of short fiction and if you like one, you'll like most all of 'em.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Debbie the Book Devourer on July 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read the last short story in this collection (Filthy with Things) in a collection of short stories, essays, and excerpts that writers considered to be among their better work (called This is My Best -- recommended, by the way). That story caused me to put TC Boyle on my list of authors to read more from, so I was glad to see this giant volume of short stories from him!

The book is divided into three parts: Love, Death, and Everything In-Between. I have to say that overall, I liked the stories in the last part best. The stories in Love were often more about betrayal (and lots of physical stuff); in the stories in Death, it often seemed that Boyle would create characters just to torture them.

But even with all that meanness, I found most of the stories enjoyable on some level. Boyle is a brilliant writer, turning a phrase just so and showing that he's researched every subject very thoroughly. His wit is very dry and yes, often very mean, which can be fun, especially when his characters are unlovable, which they so often are. But they really just reflect the flaws in all of us, so we can see where the folly of our ways can lead. I like that some of the stories (well, most of them) are so absurd and over-the-top as to be almost believable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pele Incognita on October 12, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first book I read of Boyle's was Tortilla Curtain. I have been HOOKED ever since. I am not usually a fan of short stories, I tend to prefer novels for more at length character development and situations (blah blah blah). T.C. Boyle is amazing - you can get all of that in a ten page story! This is the best collection of short stories that I own and I re-read them many times over. I also bought two copies and gave them as gifts to friends whom have not read any Boyle. (And they were very impressed with the stories) You can't lose with this collection. His stories are full and rich with detail. They are great for bathtub reading, plane trips or when you don't have a lot of time. You can get an entire experience out of just a few pages and not feel cheated. The only other short stories I have enjoyed this much are those by Roald Dahl. So - that must say A LOT for T.C. Boyle!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is indispensable, and what's more, it will provide you with hours of thrilling, hilarious and heartbreaking reading. Broken up into three sections: Love, Death, And Everything In-between, "TCB Stories" is a single book that will sustain nearly any taste, because TCB is able to master so many disparate personas and styles in these stories. If you like smart, insanely well-written, exciting and bizarre, you will not be disappointed. But if you're looking for beauty, understatement, and heartbreak, you'll find that here too. Experiments in form? Stunning metaphors? Social commentary? Yes. Also quiet character-driven pieces, monologues, and love stories. Quite frankly, this book's got it all. Bring it with you on a road-trip, or backpacking in Europe and you won't need to pack anything else. You will revisit this book again and again, you will find yourself referencing it in conversations, and most importantly you will LOVE reading it. TCB understands that you don't ever have to sacrifice excitement in order to be serious lit or in order to have deep thematic undertones -- which means that you might not even notice the implications as you're breathlessly rushing through the plot . . . until you put it down and ponder and then it hits you: wow, these are brilliant on just about every level.
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