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Wild Child: And Other Stories Paperback – Bargain Price, February 22, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, February 22, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title novella in Boyles's ninth collection is as good as anything the prolific author of The Women has written. Basing his story on the historical Victor of Aveyron, the feral child discovered in the wilds of France in 1797 and slowly brought to heel indoors under the patient but understandably frustrated doctor Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard, Boyle interrogates history with an experienced reader's wariness of sentimental revisionism and a great writer's attention to precisely what defines the child's wildness. The 13 other stories are a grab bag of Boyles's signature modes and are, therefore, mixed. There's Question 62, a by-the-numbers suburban comedy concerning an escaped tiger; La Concita, a dutiful requiem for baby boomer ordinary guyism; and Sin Dolor, a bona fide Borgesian legend about a child whose inability to feel pain fails to protect him from more subtle wounds. Stronger material is found in The Lie, about a man who lies about his newborn baby's death to get out of work, comprising one of the book's few surprises. What's largely missing is experimentation, intimacy and deviation from a catalogue throughout which Boyle has proven himself doggedly reliable; one wonders when this wild child got housebroken. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Boyle has created another successful collection of stories, with its unapologetic exaggeration, vivid settings, and gloomy but likable protagonists. Although Boyle operates under a singular theme--ordinary people succumbing to their baser instincts--critics were greatly impressed with his ability to craft 14 distinct story lines. The Los Angeles Times reviewer likened Boyle to his feral character Victor, calling him "that literary wild child whose flights of narrative fancy refuse to be domesticated." And while the New York Times critic felt the shorter stories were contrived and incomplete, the majority agreed that Wild Child is a refreshing, bold, and marvelous new collection. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118641
  • ASIN: B005GNKI76
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,886,288 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When an author decides to write short stories as compared to full length books there are additional pressures that must be faced. How to build interesting characters and plots quickly... and how to build enough emotion in the story "and" the reader to make a certifiable climactic ending possible in a limited amount of pages. T.C. Boyle has succeeded in that quest "almost" all of the time in this collection. His very few misses are still worth reading but you're left at the end of these anomalies with "nowhere to go." (Even though the journey was enjoyable.) The stories range from a twelve-year-old girl having to testify in her Father's trial after a car accident involving drinking... to a story that zig-zags back and forth from California to the frigid Midwest. In California a woman is killing snails in her garden when a large... very real... tiger appears... simultaneously... in the Midwest a lonely midnight shift nurse gets involved with a stranger with a coonskin hat who doesn't like stray cats. Another story takes place in Mexico and centers around a young boy who can feel no pain. A kindly doctor who delivers and treats him first thinks it's parental abuse... but then finds out he has stumbled upon a scientific miracle... which unfortunately leads to a side show carnival like waste of life. There are stories that debate evolution and creation... and others that depict loneliness and abnormal pets. Fleeting fame and the highs and lows of the music industry is diagnosed with a meticulous unblinking character study.

The longest "short" story by far is "WILD CHILD" which is sixty-five pages long and is based on the true facts of "THE WILD BOY OF AVEYRON"... a young child who was abandoned in the wild with his throat slit and became an animal to survive.
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Format: Hardcover
Although T.C Boyle's novels have really run the gamut of subject matter, the one thing they all have in common is their author's captivating storytelling approach, which merges the conventional with the unexpected in style and substance. Among the strongest of Boyle's works have been those that take an unusual perspective on historical figures --- Frank Lloyd Wright, Harvey Kellogg, Alfred Kinsey, etc. --- using fiction to offer fresh, contemporary insights on real-life characters from the past.

Similarly, the title story of Boyle's newest story collection, WILD CHILD, is probably the strongest of these pieces. It relates the story of the "Wild Boy of Aveyron," the feral child discovered in the French woods and slowly "civilized" over a number of years. I confess that I knew the tale mostly because of a couple of excellent children's book accounts published several years ago. However, Boyle's story of Victor is simultaneously more graphic and more tender as readers are left to reflect on what is gained --- and lost --- through Victor's "taming." Similarly, in "Sin Dolor," a doctor becomes obsessed with a young patient who apparently has no sensitivity to pain --- but becomes horrified when the boy's own father exploits his child's freakishness to turn a buck.

As in his previous collection, TOOTH AND CLAW, WILD CHILD often focuses --- as in the title story --- on the places where the so-called natural world intersects with the human one. In the disturbing "Thirteen Hundred Rats," a grieving man distorts the advice of well-meaning acquaintances who advise him to get a pet. He buys a snake, but finds that he has a more visceral connection to the rats he purchases to feed his python.
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Format: Hardcover
All in all, the stories are good reads. For the most part the quality is there, but long stretches look like something a talented college undergrad could write. There's a lack of planning in some stories; they seem to jump along with little underlying structure.

Having said that, I'll still recommend the book because some of the stories are outstanding. It's something like a CD with fourteen tracks (fourteen stories here), and you only really like four of them, but the others are okay.

"Balto" is about lying under oath. In this case it's a twelve-year-old girl who is pressured to lie to help get her father out of trouble. I wondered how the child would handle it right to the end. "Question 62" is about animal rights and wrongs and a tiger that chooses a strange place to nap. "Ash Monday" is a clever tale about revenge and how it comes in many forms.

Easily the best story is "Wild Child." It's about a boy, eight or nine, who is discovered in 1797 France. It seems he had been abandoned several years before and had managed to survive like a wild beast in the forest. He lived on things like frogs, snails, berries, and raw potatoes that he dug out by hand from farmers' fields before he slipped back into the woods. Eventually he ends up in the hands of people who see him as possible evidence in modern man's debate about innate human qualities: in a "state of nature" is man basically good? Are humans born with certain inclinations, or is that "slate" really clean? Incredibly, the story was based on the actual discovery of such a child and the events that ensued.
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