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This review is from: Wild Child (Paperback)
A new TC Boyle short story book is a literary event and Boyle's latest short story collection is like his other collections - that is, it is nothing short of brilliant. He is the best short story writer alive at the moment and "Wild Child" cements his reputation for crafting well written stories that draw you into the characters' strange worlds and have you wanting more.
The best story here is a short novella called "Wild Child" about a young boy found hiding in the woods in 18th century France, apparently animal-like due to years of living in the wild. He is taken in and, like the real life case of Caspar Hauser, is taken to the city where he is taught and educated. Unlike Hauser though, the wild child is never tamed. Boyle's characterisation of the child is a perfect rendering of what you would imagine to be a feral child, part human, part animal. You feel the frustrated attempts by doctors to make him speak as well as the surroundings of 18th century Paris and Languedoc. If all the other stories in this book were bad (and they're not) the book would be worth reading for this novella alone.
"The Lie" is about a man who, unable to face work, crafts a lie that his baby has died and thus gains a few more days off. However he's unable to backtrack and then his wife finds out...
"La Conchita" is about an organ courier in California who sees a mudslide happen on the motorway and gets caught up in rescuing trapped people from their cars, imaging an alternate life where one woman's husband dies and he takes his place.
"Bulletproof" is about the battle between secular education and religious views with stickers on biology textbooks that read "Darwin's theory of evolution is just a theory" dividing parents and teachers alike. The narrator, a single man, is torn between loyalty to his secular friend and a Christian woman.
"The Unlucky Mother of Aquiles Maldonado" is about a Venezuelan baseball star whose mother is taken hostage.
"Admiral" is about a rich couple who clone their dead dog and try to recreate conditions as they were years ago.
Those are the stories that stood out for me but none were terrible and all drew me into the story despite being only a dozen pages long. The characters and settings are so vivid that you become instantly interested in the stories. It's the mark of a great writer and a master storyteller who can do that so well. I would heartily recommend this book to any fans of fiction or fans of TC Boyle, who is sure to go down in literary history as the American Chekhov. A must read, fantastic book.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Feb 2011 22:03:09 GMT
Stevie Dal says:
I'm a big fan of TC Boyle (especially his novel Drop City and his short stories) and i feel he's a superb writer so i pretty much agree with your review. However , the American Chekov ? , steady on old chap........he surely ain't that good !
In reply to an earlier post on 16 Feb 2011 09:15:26 GMT
You're right, maybe hyperbole by me at the end there but I do think he's the best living American short story writer at the moment.
Posted on 23 Feb 2011 11:48:52 GMT
Verbier Library says:
I admire your enthusiasm. I am also a great fan and have been trying to get readers at our library to read Boyle. However, I am not sure if there is not an element of 'damning with faint praise' in some of your comments:
best living short story writer?
Having written so many novels I am not sure the author would be so delighted to be put into such a tiny box! Short stories are not exactly the apex of literary ambition.
But what I really like is 'none were terrible'. Put that on the cover of any book and I would rush out to buy it.
I enjoyed all the stories but I think much of his earlier work is better.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Feb 2011 13:02:21 GMT
I agree that short stories aren't the apex of ambition for a writer but I do think Boyle's short stories are the best out there from an American author and considering that many famous novelists try their hand at short fiction I'd say he stands tall amongst more well known names and that's something.
I feel Boyle's novels are never as good as his shorter works so saying he's the best living American writer would be going a stretch too far I think. But kudos to you for encouraging people to seek out his work, he should definitely be more well known in this country than he is.
Can't wait to read his latest novel, "When The Killing's Done" out now I think!
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