Most helpful critical review
The battle of the islands
on 4 June 2012
T.C. Boyle is an acclaimed writer and Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Aged 64, he takes all the poetic licence he has and writes about the topic he is really interested in: the history of the Channel Islands right opposite his residence in Santa Barbara.
And as he obviously loves boats, too, this combination comes in handy when he invents young Alma, the National Park Service biologist and executive, who oversees the killing of rats and pigs on the islands and the reintroduction of endemic foxes and the like.
Her much livelier depicted counterpart is middle-aged, rich, independent Dave LaJoy, an irascible animal lover, who does everything in his considerable power to prevent the killing on the islands. His lover Anise, long-legged and beautiful like all the women surrounding him, has her own fatal family history connected with the islands.
The omniscient author uses more than ample flashbacks to enfold his majestic battle painting, with the islands taking centre stage. The humans around their story pale in comparison, most of them are doomed, victims to the rough sea and weather.
And Boyle loves to let women suffer, specially the pregnant ones. His story-telling reminds me of the late paintings of Picasso, denunciatory and sadistic. Is it the view of disillusioned old men? Philip Roth comes to mind, too or Elmore Leonard.