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Without a Hero: Stories Paperback – May 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140178392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140178395
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,719,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Boyle's fourth collection of short stories, he depicts a variety of individuals in his usual style of satire and humor.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the title story of Boyle's fourth collection of short fiction, a Southern California swinger hopes to impress a beautiful Russian immigrant with a taste of the good life, only to find himself outclassed by her mastery of consumer culture. In "Filthy with Things," a yuppie couple is forced to seek professional help for an "aggregation disorder" that has turned their suburban home into a warehouse of antiques and collectibles. The narrator of "Beat," another wonderful tale, recalls drinking Mogen David wine and listening to Bing Crosby records with Kerouac and Memere one Christmas in the 1950s. Boyle's unique brand of satire avoids the moral indignation that often characterizes the genre. Here, humans are the hapless dupes of their own possessions. An upcoming film version of Boyle's novel The Road to Wellville ( LJ 3/15/93) should create a demand for this writer's work. Recommended for most fiction collections.
- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this, his ninth book and fourth collection of stories, T. Coraghessan Boyle is as satiric, offbeat, and laconic as ever. A whiz with a narrative, his stories are so well honed that there does not seem to be an extraneous syllable.

True to form, the author tackles improbable subjects and fleshes them out with bigger than life characters in unlikely situations.

A bored adman is spending his 30th birthday on a windy beach with only "a comforting apocalyptic tract about the demise of the planet" for company. There he meets Alena Jorgensen, a beautiful animal rights activist. He falls in love with her and placates her by eating unappetizing breakfasts, "...brewer's yeast and what appeared to be some sort of bark marinated in yogurt." He even joins in a Beverly Hills anti-fur march, challenging "A wizened silvery old woman who might have been an aging star or a star's mother," and is flattened by the woman's kickboxing chauffeur.

One would be hard pressed to select a favorite among the 16 sketches included in this collection. "Filthy With Things" is a mirror held to the face of greed, as a couple whose home is bulging with their possessions seeks the help of professional organizers to ease them into a "nonacquisative environment."

In "Big Game," Bernard Puff operates a big game preserve located just outside of Bakersfield, California. There, for a price, guests can shoot anything. Puff affects a phony British accent, and drinks quinine water although nary a malarial mosquito has been spotted.

"Without A Hero" speaks with an unconventional voice but, oh, how refreshing to hear it.

- Gail Cooke
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Wilson on September 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
If I were the author of The Road To Wellville, I don't think I'd print that on my books. I think I'd just coast on having a wonderful name like "Coraghessan" to throw around. In any case, 56-0 was sort of heartbreaking, and Top of the Food Chain barreled down a road I'd always wondered about, and Big Game I really liked, for being about Hemingway a little, and Filthy With Things scared the living daylights out of me, reminding me more than a little of the Stephen King story Quitters, Inc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Cartwright on January 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
WITHOUT A HERO is a terrific collection of short stories by a highly inventive author. I recently enjoyed his novel INNER CIRCLE, and previously had noticed his imaginative, satirical stories in the pages of The New Yorker. Quite simply, T.C. Boyle is fun to read.

Short stories showcase Boyle's creativity and wit. Here we enjoy tales about over-monied California real estate moguls trophy hunting outside Bakersfield ("Big Game"); the astonomer and his collectibles-crazy wife who undergo reprogramming at the hands of a professional clutter organizer ("Filthy With Things"); the remarried, aged husband doting on his ridiculously demanding wife and his unpredictable reaction to her well-being in a hurricane ("Act of God"); the mud-splattered and half-crippled, never-say-die right guard for the Caledonia College football team ("56-0"); the beatnik who has hitchhiked across the US for a night of carousing with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs ("Beat"); and the young Irish-American boy sucking in both the carcinogenic fumes of bug-spray and prejudice ("The Fog Man"). The thriller of the bunch is the closer. In "Sitting on Top of the World" sexy ranger Elaine guards the forest from fire, splendidly isolated for days in the mountaintop station, enjoying her solitude. Until a stranger comes knocking....
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Format: Paperback
I must confess that I feel guilty even writing a reveiw, let along giving 5 stars, for a book that I haven't read all of. I was only assigned six of the short stories in the book for my Satire class...and though I suppose I could have read more, I did not. However, that does not change the fact that the 6 stories I read were all brilliant in their own right.
BIG GAME- Trying to import African into Southern California, Bernard Puff learns too late the danger of trying to import one reality into another.
TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN- DDT leads to devastation of Borneo...but wickedly funny and ironic, "Every cloud has a silver lining"
56-0- Ray Aurther Larry-Pete Fontinot tries one last time to taste glory in football. Far far far from Rudy.
FILTHY WITH THINGS- Materialism has a hold on Julian...but the remedy may prove worse than the disease. Twilight Zone-esque, and I mean that as the highest of compliments.
BEAT- Buzz's hero and the Beat culture are not as glamourous as they seem
THE FOGMAN- Rasicm at its most heartbreaking...and the moral: nothing changes.
Even if all the other stories in this book are completely horrid and abominations to the English language, you should still pick up a copy of T. Coraghesson (what a helluva name) Boyle's book even if only to read these stories.
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cosmoetica on October 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book was written after its writer, Thomas John Boyle, became T. Coraghessan Boyle, but before he morphed into merely T.C. Boyle. Some online sites suggest that Coraghessan was a middle name made up because it was `sexier' than mere John, or T.J., while others claim it as his second middle name from birth. I don't know which is true, but the first option seems far more in line with the egoistic ravings of this man, not to mention the self-consciously bad boy poses he strikes in the photos of himself. Regardless of his ultimate poseur nature, however, Boyle is a bad writer- very bad.

That said, he is not bad in the way writers such as Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, or Rick Moody are, even though that is what I expected from others' claims, and the fact that he has blurbed for these writers before. Whereas they are relentlessly hipster, and spew formless rants with pop cultural allusions that are void of character development and narrative arc, Boyle is, well, there's no easy way to say this, but mind-numbingly conventional. Yes, he's bad, and mostly because he's dull, dull, dull. But, unlike the others he has shown he can, at least, control a narrative line. What he lacks, if this book is used as evidence, is any sense of anything to tell. A back cover blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle declares Boyle's `inexhaustible curiosity and his willingness to try anything once are here in abundance.' By this I can only discern the blurbist meant that he starts out with odd premises. This is true. But, Boyle does absolutely nothing with those premises, and simply having weird occurrences pop up does not make a thing funny, merely odd, and if disconnected to the narrative start and trope, very contrived. But, again, at least it is a narrative.
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