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The Human Fly and Other Stories Paperback – September 8, 2005
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"Boyle repeatedly demonstrates his masterful grasp of human nature, exposing his characters' foibles and eccentricities."—Publishers Weekly
"Boyle delivers compelling tales of humor, compassion, and intrigue."—School Library Journal
"Boyle perfectly echoes an adolescent voice in unsparing, often hilarious observations . . . Sharply authentic."—Booklist
About the Author
T. C. Boyle (tcboyle.com) 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. He currently lives near Santa Barbara with his wife and three children.
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The stories in THE HUMAN FLY range from giggle-inducing outlandish to tear-jerking poignant. From a story about losing a football match ("56-0") to a glimpse into the life of a man who chases after fame by courting death doing daredevil stunts ("The Human Fly") to a record-setting tale of two men battling it out in gargantuan eat-a-thon contests (The Champ"), the choices in this collection offer a little something for everyone --- and every mood. Unlike other anthologies on the shelves, Boyle's stories are consistently enjoyable and well-written, with characters who snap to life as though they're sitting right next to you.
A few stories that stand out above the rest:
"The Fog Man" and "Beat" poke fun at adolescence, each in their own way --- suburban youth in "The Fog Man" and hipped-out counterculture in "Beat." Teens will especially like "Beat" for its Kerouacian feel and subject matter (the story is set in Jack's mom's house; William Burroughs, Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg all make their own riotous cameo appearances). Begging to be read aloud, this story sings with attitude, charm, and raucous, bee-bopped rhythm throughout.
"Juliana Cloth" and the O. Henry Award-winning "The Love of My Life" (which also ran in The New Yorker a few years ago) are surprisingly hard-hitting and should give the more mature readers pause to think about the consequences of their actions. "Juliana Cloth" addresses AIDS in a tribal village and one girl's urge to have sex, despite the consequences. "The Love of My Life" is based on a story in the news about a young couple who abandons their baby in a dumpster --- Boyle reveals both the incessant love and naïve stupidity behind their actions. Expect lasting impressions from these two tales.
Also included in the collection is an Afterword --- an explanation, of sorts, of what Boyle himself intended when writing these stories. Some purists might feel that knowing "the inside scoop" ruins the magic, but others (including teachers who might use the book as a reading assignment for class) will appreciate having access to Boyle's brain and writing process.
Without a doubt, THE HUMAN FLY AND OTHER STORIES will both delight and tickle youngsters for its content and its sassy, "Looney Tunes" style. So, too, will burgeoning writers appreciate Boyle's change in voice over the years and learn from his willingness to tackle a variety of topics, paces and techniques.
--- Reviewed by Alexis Burling