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Boyle's latest concerns two couples in Southern California?one a pair of wealthy suburbanites, the other illegal immigrants from Mexico. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Go tell it in the valley: Boyle's newest novel is, according to the publicist, "a timely, provocative account" of immigration in central California. With a 100,000-copy first printing and a 25-city tour, you know the publisher expects this book to be big. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
Boyle's The Tortillia Curtain differs from other books of his that I have read in that it tackles a serious set of social issues head on. Among the other reviews posted here for this book I see that some have claimed that the book is 'unrealistic' and makes use of every stereotype imaginable. Well, while one wouldn't want to pretend that all Southern Californians of means are shallow conspicuous consumers, nothing in the portrait Boyle creates here rings untrue. There must be thousands of people who fit this image. That being the case, it is important to make the point that he doesn't present either the Yuppie Californian family or the Mexican immagrant family as a symbol. They are real people. They don't stand for anything else. And while the extreme dichotomy posed between the wealth and well being of the one and the poverty and marginal health of the other do serve the purpose of highlighting the issue of the extreme inequities in the distribution of goods and services in this country, Boyle does not suggest a solution. Rather, he is interested in showing us what happens when these extremes come into contact in unexpected circumstances. What he has given us is a story of people in different circumstances responding as they likely would - as their training and experience have prepared them to. If we want to make an allegory of it, I don't think that is what he intended. I think that all he is saying is that extremes of expectation, in conflict, will generate extremes of behavior. I enjoyed the book very much. Apart from Boyle's considerable skill with words, his characters were vivid and the plot - though heavy on coincidence (hey, it worked for Dickens) - is interesting and keeps the reader focused till the end.
While reading House of Sand and Fog earlier this year, I was reminded of another book to read called The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle. Friends of mine who live in Southern California had recommended this book to me for sometime and shortly after I finished the Dubus book, I picked up Tortilla Curtain. Now that I've read both of these books I can't stop thinking about both of them, their stories, the characters or unbeliveable outcomes. And if I were to give House of Sand and Fog a 5 star rating, I would surely give 6 stars to The Tortilla Curtain. Tortilla Curtain is the phrase used to describe the thin borders between Mexico and the United States which immigrants cross over in their attempt to live better lives. In this "blow you away novel," TC Boyle offers his readers a plot and characters who are not only involved in the world of illegal aliens but whose lives will never be the same. And for many of us it is as if this novel's premise was lifted off the pages of our daily newspapers and one for which there is no easy solution. Candido along with his wife America are illegal aliens living in the canyons and brush areas of Southern California. When the book opens Candido is hit by a car driven by Delaney a writer for an environmental magazine. Although Candido hurries away from the scene for for fear of being caught and questioned his injuries prevent him from working for the next few days. In eloquent words, the author then describes how America seeks work and is both verbally and physically abused which causes Candido great regrets about crossing the border and bringing America to the US. At the same time nearby in a prosperous planned community, Delaney lives with his wife Kyra, a real estate broker, and her son.Read more ›
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As is the norm for Boyle, this is a very complex work. The gist of this novel emerges right from the start. Delaney Mossbacher is driving home to his pristine gated community in Southern California and hits a Mexican immigrant walking along the road. His reaction? Concern that he might have seriously damaged his car. Oh, he does "come to his senses" and check on the man he hit. The man is obviously injured. What does Delaney do? Gives him 20 bucks and leaves. Ok, so Delaney is just a lousy jerk-a bad guy with no conscience, right? Not exactly, at least from Delaney's point of view. A left wing "naturalist" type, Delaney is the perfect parody of the "Socially and Environmentally" conscious Yuppie urban American. He's the sort with "important" cares. That he has hit and injured a human being gives him but passing concern-that his dog can be killed by wild animals in his own yard is an outrage. This world view is counter posed against that of the accident victim, Candido and his young wife, illegal immigrants living in the ravine behind the Delaney's gated community. Candido and his wife struggle with how to find even one decent meal a day. Kyra, Delaney's wife, struggles with the escalating emptiness and lack of fulfillment she feels from closing 6 figure commission deals on her sales of multimillion dollar homes. And so it goes. At heart, this is a book about how people are desperate to connect with one another while systematically shutting themselves away from everyone. The Delaney's spend their lives shutting themselves away behind an array of both actual and metaphorical walls. Candido and his wife are shut away by poverty and fear and racism.Read more ›