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Tooth and Claw: and Other Stories Hardcover – September 8, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The threat of imminent demise—whether self-inflicted or from an ungentle Mother Nature—hovers in Boyle's seventh collection (after the novel The Inner Circle). Ravenous alligators make a memorable cameo in "Jubilation," in which a divorced man seeking community and stability moves into a "model" town erected in a Florida theme park (think Disney's Celebration), only to find that benign surfaces conceal dangerous depths. This theme of civilization versus wilderness also underpins the weird and wonderful "Dogology," in which a young woman's frustration with the accoutrements of the human world compels her to run—on all fours—with a pack of neighborhood dogs. "Here Comes"—one of the collection's more realistic pieces—describes the anxious circumstances of a suddenly homeless alcoholic poised to slip through the cracks for good in a Southern California town. Substance abuse figures again in "Up Against the Wall," about a young man seduced by a dissolute new crowd, while his parents' marital discord and the Vietnam War tug at the edges of his drugged-out awareness. The wired rhythm of Boyle's prose and the enormity of his imagination make this collection irresistible; with it he continues to shore up his place as one of the most distinctive, funniest—and finest—writers around. (On sale Sept. 12)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Boyle—beloved author of The Inner Circle and Drop City—is a masterful prose stylist. This volume showcases his skill, hurling such wonderful phrases as "face that was like a dried-up field plowed in both directions" at the reader. But the reviews of this collection were mixed, suggesting that Boyle is a bit too enamored of his own wordsmithing. A few critics claimed that he was so busy making it rococo and perfect that he failed to develop characters that readers care about. Still, the collection is clever, creative, and inventive in the dialectic it poses between nature and civilization and will engage and even delight all but the most finicky readers.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670034355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670034352
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,682,693 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If my memory serves me right, Tennyson in his long poem "In Memoriam" referred to nature as "red in tooth and claw." T. C. Boyle obviously takes a page from Lord Tennyson in his latest collection of short stories where nature at best is indifferent, at its worst, malevolent. Wind storms are so bad that the weather service's wind gauge was once torn from "its moorings and launched into eternity" ("Swept Away") and a "bird lady" probably was washed out to sea. Two individuals get lost in a blinding snowstorm in the Southern Sierras in "The Swift Passage of the Animals." The characters-- at least some of them-- in "Blinded by the Light" are obsessed with a hole in the ozone layer: "So the sky is falling. Or, to be more precise, the sky is emitting poisonous rays." In "Chicxulub" an asteroid collided with the earth "sixty-five million years ago: "The thing that disturbs me about Chicxulub, [the name of the asteroid or comet] aside from the fact that it erased the dinosaurs and wrought catastrophic and irreversible change, is the deeper impication that we, and all our works and worries and attachments, are so utterly inconsequential." Additionally, in several of these stories the characters must also deal with nature's animals: wind-driven falling cats in "Swept Away," man-eating alligators in "Jubilation," an African wild cat that the narrator wins in a bar bet-- coincidentally in a driving rain-- in the title story. Or what is even worse, at least one character ("Dogology") wants to become a dog.

Thirteen of these fourteen stories will open up your sinuses.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By G. Bestick VINE VOICE on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Is there a more talented short fiction writer in America than T.C. Boyle? Probably not. Many of his considerable gifts and persisting preoccupations are on display in Tooth and Claw, his seventh published collection of stories.

Five of the fourteen stories are set in bars. They feature precariously-balanced young men being swept toward the realization that something has to give or change. Boyle shares this space with Richard Bausch, another fine short story writer. If Bausch's stories have the fiery burn of raw pulque, Boyle's go down like high grade tequila: the kick comes later. Given his storytelling skills, one suspects that Boyle could spin out guy-in-bar tales as effortlessly and endlessly as a spider can drop silk filaments from its abdomen.

His comic gifts are on display in Swept Away, a roistering tale of the affair between a visiting ornithologist and a local farmer on a bleak Scottish isle, and the satirical subset of those gifts is evident in Jubilation, which chronicles the natural disasters that befall a man trying to start a new life in a housing development built by a theme park company. Dogology, about a woman who wants to be one with the animal kingdom, and The Kind Assassin, about a drive-time DJ's attempt to set the record for going without sleep, show Boyle turning intriguing concepts into stories peopled by characters who engage our feelings.

Several of the stories revolve around nature. The Doubtfulness of Water takes us on an adventurous journey from Boston to New York in the year 1702. Tooth and Claw, a combo bar and animal story, gives us a lost young man trying to cope with a feral pet.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Dorset on January 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a fan of TC Boyle's novels and short stories, I was pleased to see that he stayed on course with this, his latest collection of short stories. Mr. Boyle has an uncanny talent for creating original characters and plots in his stories.

I liken each of his stories to a wonderful meal cooked by the hands of a professional chef. The first paragraphs of his stories, much like a carefully selected appetizer, will draw the reader in, allowing them to sample the foibles or eccentricities of the main characters and give them a tantalizing taste of the filling and ultimately satisfying course to come. Boyle picks his words carefully and -- like spices -- uses them to enhance but not overwhelm. The ending of the story comes quickly, like any good dessert should, finishing off the arc with a succulent twist or a thoroughly satisfying conclusion that will inevitably bring out a smile.

Boyle's stories are properly paced, much like a good meal is portioned to satisfy without stuffing. Each one can be read during a lunch break or before bed, and they are never drawn out or boring. Each story will satisfy the reader while tempting him or her to come back for more.

If you enjoy reading, then this book belongs on your shelf along with Boyle's other great works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By algo41 on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Boyle has a fondness for male characters, often young, who drink a lot and make bad mistakes in judgment through a callousness which reflects lack of maturity more than a lack of virtue. But Boyle can surprise you, with stories which don't fit the mold at all.

I particularly liked the account of a journey from Boston to New York in 1702 by a middle aged widow who is not particularly brave or resourceful.

Boyle also is quite capable of prose like "it was a dark and stormy night", and metaphors that don't really help, but he does this kind of thing almost tongue in cheek, or maybe I am imagining that. He also sent me to the dictionary a number of times, with words that turned out to be entirely appropriate.
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