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The Inner Circle Paperback – 2 Jan 2006

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The Inner Circle + World's End + The Tortilla Curtain
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (2 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747578877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747578871
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘Boyle is one of America’s most fluent, dazzling and readable writers’ -- Uncut

‘His satire is spot-on … Boyle’s portrait of the scientist remains rich with comic nuance’ -- Sunday Times

‘This is a wonderful novel, beautifully constructed and written, and constantly compelling. Boyle just gets better and better’ -- Daily Mail

From the Publisher

A dazzling and sexy novel from the acclaimed author of Drop City and The Tortilla Curtain

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rose Maroc on 8 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
I wanted to read this having loved 'Tortilla Curtain' and am glad I did - Boyle is a great storyteller and this is quite a story ! He paints a vivid yet fictitious picture of the personal and professional lives of Kinsey and his entourage through the eyes of his earliest disciple, John Milk. In fact, as it turns out there can be no distinction between their personal and professional lives and the job description is not as much fun as you might expect! Lots and lots of sex, obviously, but very much from a scientific point of view. If you want eroticism you may be disappointed as after a while it's like reading about gardening, but the characters and their unconventional relationships are brilliantly drawn and involving, some endearing and others absolutely repellent. Also packed with period detail on the USA from the 1930s to 50s. Parts of the story I found very dark and disturbing and although I thoroughly enjoyed it I felt relieved that despite the way it reads it isn't actually a true story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The work of Alfred Kinsey is explored through a fictitious narrator, John Milk, who is there for the first lecture Kinsey gives on sex and soon after becomes involved in the sex research that will form Kinsey's legacy and change the world. But life in the inner circle is far different from the life presented to the media...

T.C. Boyle's novel is an excellent look into one of the 20th century's most interesting and important thinkers/scientists, someone who brought sex from the shadows and shame and into popular culture. It's no coincidence that the two books "Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male/Female" came out just before the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Kinsey is a fascinating figure himself, a kind of forward thinker who believes all sex is natural whatever your inclination and practices what he preaches. Where the book becomes interesting is in the tangled web of interconnecting relationships between all of the characters who sexually share themselves and their partners among one another leading to devastated feelings and the limits of the sex research and Kinsey's philosophy of free love which fails to take into account real love, just physical sex.

The inner circle resembles a cult almost with Kinsey as the leader and his "followers" doing his bidding, worshipping his strong personality and mission of bringing sex out into the open. It's ironic because Kinsey is so anti-religion and yet he expects complete fealty to his cause and his beliefs without question from his followers. But his utter single mindedness in his pursuit would lead to an early grave and leave a kind of darkness and hollowness to the people in his life after all he put them through.
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By jambal on 25 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel was presented to me as, "TC Boyle's least favourable novel" so, naturally, I didn't have game-changing expectations.

(For the record, 'Worlds End', 'Drop City' and 'East For East' are among my favourite books, ever.)

'The Inner Circle' IS a game-changer. It did deserve high expectations, because it shatters them. It breaks them down and it bloody delivers. It deserves to have high expectations and hype, because it lives up to them and it exceeds them.

This novel is the fictional tale of a very factual man. And, of course, sex. It is packed full of sex and the scientific terminology is addictive. All of it is addictive, and I admit, I have started Alfred Kinsey's repertoire. Beginning with 'Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male'. I am excited about his work. I am itching to ~know. It's difficult to explain.

Boyle's incarnation of Prok (Professor Kinsey) is stunning. Absolutely breathtaking. And John Milk. John Milk is now on my list of 'most favourite fictional characters'. He is inevitably damaged. That progression is equal parts heartbreaking and gorgeous to read.
Prok and Milk's relationship is complicated and simple. Sexual and fraternal. It is captivating.
In fact, all of the relationships in this novel are enthralling.

This novel has rendered me incoherent and I cannot recommend it enough.

Just read it. No embellishments. No expectations. Read it.

And lose yourself in their world. It is utterly hypnotising.
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Format: Paperback
I wonder if T C Boyle had any misgivings concerning his decision to narrate 'first person' through the fictictious John Milk. I wish he had these doubts in the first chapter and then reconfigured the novel as it would have worked better for me if he had used the third person narrative as he did in "The Tortilla Curtain". John Milk's first person narration really grates due to his weak voice and the events around his marriage were depressingly repetitive and just uninteresting reading.
John Milk is obsessed about his work and the fact finding collection of sexual detail which impacts on his relationship with his wife, Iris. Boyle's use of the Zombie Cocktail at the end of the novel, especially if based on fact, is a serious endictment on Kinsey's character, and could be argued as an early example of attempted Date Rape. Kinsey came across as a control freak and possibly a borderline personality.
The basic plot is fascinating concerning the collection of facts for the Kinsey Report which is arguably the most pivotal sexual analysis of the 20th Century. I believe that this report was instrumental in breaking down the barriers promoted by Christian, Jewish and Muslim suppression of sexual freedom which they have fastidiously enforced for obvious self-purporting reasons.
Potentially, this novel could have been much better but sadly is limited by the extensive Milk element to the plot.
Footnote. Bizarrely, this novel was characterised as Gay by the Charing Cross Library. One wonders if they think if a book is about sex then it has to be gay!!
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