A Friend of the Earth Paperback – 8 Oct 2001
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If, as we are frequently cautioned, ecological collapse is imminent, the future might someday resemble TC Boyle's vision of Southern California, circa 2025: strafing wind, extortionate heat, vast species extinction, and a ramshackle, dispirited populace. A more bleak backdrop--part Blade Runner, part Silent Spring--for his eighth novel is difficult to imagine. But the ever-mischievous, ever-inventive Boyle is all too willing to disoblige; and so, in extended homage to early Vonnegut, his Sierra Club nightmare is rendered, well, comically. Toss in streaks of unabashed sentimentality, a scattershot satire, and several signature narrative ambushes, and A Friend of the Earth only further embellishes the already prodigious Boyle reputation.
During the 1980s and '90s, Ty Tierwater had exchanged a sedately acquisitive existence--"the slow-rolling glacier of my old life, my criminal life, the life I led before I became a friend of the earth"--for a fairly ambivalent position on the front lines of an ecoterrorist posse called Earth Forever! The only complication is his dual penchant for empathy and ineptitude, exacerbated by a frustration that swells with accumulating incitements. After his daughter is taken from him, and his second wife, Andrea, becomes more committed to the cause than to their marriage, Ty finds solace in blind destruction. He serves his almost predictable terms in jail; he endures the eventual death--and martyrdom--of his activist daughter, Sierra. At 75, and a quarter of the way into the dismal and decayed 21st century, he unaccountably finds himself tending an eccentric rock star's private mini-zoo of ragged animals and wryly lamenting the collapse of his race. And then Andrea resurfaces--along with his long-fallow faith in love.
Old Testament digression stalks Ty throughout A Friend of the Earth, from a publicity-stunt-cum-Edenic-retreat during his heady Earth Forever! days to a chaotic menagerie roundup amidst flooding rainfall. Boyle's future, however, is less apocalyptic than resigned, more drearily pragmatic than angst-ridden. It's a world Ty ultimately finds untenable: a constricted diversity, ecological or ideological, proves stultifying, a fact he only dimly recognised while awash in his earlier radicalism. "To be a friend of the earth," he avers in retrospect, "you have to be an enemy of the people". Boyle's spirited tale sustains the brashness of Ty's convictions. --Ben Guterson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'A comedy with teeth from one of America's most consistently inventive novelists' -- The Times
'Bursting with imagination and humour' -- Daily Telegraph
'Superb ... if Boyle was from this side of the pond, this is the book they'd all have to beat for the booker prize' -- Sunday Tribune
'Surreal, daring and compassionate. Easily one of the best books of this year' -- Daily Mail
Top Customer Reviews
A moral message? Yup, I guess so. But once again, Boyle manages to expertly tell his tale, and yet deliver characters that are resolutely and defiantly imoprobable, or rather, undeserving of sympathy or empathy. Good story, well told, bt somewhat unengaging.
His daughter dies in a tree protest (sorry if that's a plot spoiler, though you'd have to be pretty dumb not to see it coming); I couldn't help thinking of the Simpsons episode where Lisa camps up in a tree to stop it being chopped down, which rather spoilt the pathos of this episode.
Still, it doesn't pull any punches. The reviewers who seem to think that the eco-disaster it portrays doesn't seem disastrous enough must have pretty thick skins - there's nothing much to eat, for starters.
I'd like to concentrate on what you might actually be expecting from a book about a near-future post-ecodisaster Earth.
An ecodisaster? Sorry; we're led to believe it's out there, but not much in the way of description from Mr Boyle (err, it's wet and windy). This does little to conjure an image of a credible future world.
OK, so the ecodisaster bit is just a frame for the hilarious, sometimes moving, always dynamic plot and subplots?
No, sorry again. To describe this book as 'comic', perhaps only pertains to its category in my home library.
Moving? Somehow emotive? Well, I had a few motions whilst reading this book, but none of them were complimentary.
Satirical then? Asking questions about our current perspective on climate change?
Well, maybe. Although the declaration "..to be a friend of the Earth you have to be an enemy of the people..." is about as deep as it gets. Boyle makes no attempt to broaden this argument amongst his protagonists, and as such betrays perhaps ignorance of the subject matter, or a desire to avoid further contention. Unfortunate, because this could have been the most interesting aspect of this novel.
T C Boyle has written much, much better books. And no doubt will do so again. Read it if you're desperate to complete all of the author's work, otherwise look elsewhere for your entertainment, provocation, immersion or whatever else you get out of a good book, because this isn't one.