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.)
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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.