I read the last short story in this collection (Filthy with Things) in a collection of short stories, essays, and excerpts that writers considered to be among their better work (called This is My Best -- recommended, by the way). That story caused me to put TC Boyle on my list of authors to read more from, so I was glad to see this giant volume of short stories from him!
The book is divided into three parts: Love, Death, and Everything In-Between. I have to say that overall, I liked the stories in the last part best. The stories in Love were often more about betrayal (and lots of physical stuff); in the stories in Death, it often seemed that Boyle would create characters just to torture them.
But even with all that meanness, I found most of the stories enjoyable on some level. Boyle is a brilliant writer, turning a phrase just so and showing that he's researched every subject very thoroughly. His wit is very dry and yes, often very mean, which can be fun, especially when his characters are unlovable, which they so often are. But they really just reflect the flaws in all of us, so we can see where the folly of our ways can lead. I like that some of the stories (well, most of them) are so absurd and over-the-top as to be almost believable.
Stories include: Lassie being conflicted over saving Timmy and falling for a skinny, shabby, dangerous coyote; a modern guy dating Jane Austen; Jack Kerouac as the "beatest" mama's boy ever; a highly disturbed boy and his bees; a flashback to when starlings were introduced to the US (featuring, I learned after Googling him, the real guy who introduced them, with the facts pretty much in agreement with the websites I found); an ingenious scheme to get around tariffs; a couple's experience with an "organizer," who helps them pare down their possessions; and many more too diverse to be believed.
As I said, the stories are all very smartly written, often exploring historical characters. I enjoyed most all of them very much, despite all the bloodshed and heartbreak, and look forward to reading more from Boyle.