by T.C. Boyle
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About the Author-
T.C. Boyle has published fourteen novels and ten collections of short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his novel World's End, and the Prix Médicis étranger for The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, as well as the 2014 Henry David Thoreau award for excellence in nature writing. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and lives in Santa Barbara.
May 15, 2017
The author of a string of well-regarded novels, including the Pen Faulkner Award winner World's End, Boyle has written more than 100 stories and won the 2014 Rea Award for the Short Story. These 12 pieces exhibit Boyle's entertainingly off-kilter view of the world, as when a man aspires to assemble the town's biggest burrito. With a 50,000-copy first printing.
Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
August 7, 2017
Characteristic elements of Boyle’s fiction—ecology, technology, human nature, obsession, men and women disconnecting, the ordinary intermingled with the bizarre—are evident throughout his latest collection. The title story centers on a home entertainment console that enables users to relive moments from their past. A father, arguing with his 15-year-old daughter who wants more time at the “relive box,” tells her to do her homework and focus on the present, even as he is about to lose his job because he cannot stop reliving younger, more promising, days. “Are We Not Men?” depicts a future in which people custom-design children and pets through transgenic reproduction. Trouble begins when a maraschino-colored pit bull attacks a micropig. In “You Don’t Miss Your Water (’Til the Well Runs Dry),” a neighbor siphons off a California homeowner’s water during a drought, then, when the drought worsens, asks the homeowner to contribute money for a rain dancer. The creator of the titular dish in “The Five-Pound Burrito” experiences both success and hallucinations. In “She’s the Bomb,” a non-graduating college senior is desperate to delay the graduation ceremony, and in “Warrior Jesus” a cook channels his anger into disturbing comic-book superhero episodes. Settings for the 12 stories range from the Arctic to Argentina, protagonists from teenager to octogenarian. Boyle makes the incredible credible through detail, and his narrative voices convincing through rhythm and attitude. He can be funny, touching, or both, as when his characters face aging with characteristically fervent resistance.
Starred review from August 1, 2017
The prolific Boyle provides high entertainment in his latest story collection.With novels that are all over the map in subject matter as well as quality, Boyle has proven hit (The Road to Wellville, 1993; San Miguel, 2012) and miss (The Terranauts, 2016). His batting average is higher in this collection, in which stories about global warming, cybertechnology, and genetic engineering show him addressing not only the first part of the 21st century, but whatever future it may anticipate. The title story, which has already been anthologized in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, imagines our culture's next step in technological self-absorption: a device that allows people to revisit any part of their past history. For many, the Relive Box's utility begins as personalized pornography, but users find it so addictive that they're soon revisiting, for hours on end, pretty much any moment that allows them to escape the present. Narrating the story is a divorced father of a 15-year-old girl. He wants to limit her time on the device (where she turns back to a time when her family was intact), but mainly he wants to use it himself, to get lost in the box, "pinned here in this chair like an exhibit in a museum, blind to anything but the past, my past and nobody else's, not hers or her mother's, or the country's or the world's, but just mine." Many of the stories have narrators with blinders on, whether it's a mathematician convinced he's on the verge of a prizewinning breakthrough as his household suffers a plague of ants ("The Argentine Ant"), a cartoonist wreaking revenge on his girlfriend through the creation of "Warrior Jesus," or a "high midlist" novelist who had "written about death to the point of obsession" but now finds it hitting a little too close to home ("Subtract One Death"). Fans and new readers alike will appreciate Boyle's droll humor, eye for detail, and seemingly inexhaustible imagination.
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- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Fans and new readers alike will appreciate Boyle's droll humor, eye for detail, and seemingly inexhaustible imagination."
- Publishers Weekly "Boyle makes the incredible credible through detail, and his narrative voices convincing through rhythm and attitude. He can be funny, touching, or both."
- Booklist (starred review) "Boyle's substantial collection is funny, disarming, and crushing, haunting and beautiful."
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