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1. The Inner Circle
2. The Women (Wheeler Large Print
3. Talk Talk
4. Drop City
5. Wild Child [With Earbuds] (Playaway
6. The Road to Wellville (Penguin
7. Riven Rock
8. The Collected Stories of T.Coraghessan
9. If the River Was Whiskey: Stories
10. The Tortilla Curtain
11. Descent of Man
12. Budding Prospects
13. World's End
14. Water Music
15. Without a Hero: Stories
16. A Friend Of The Earth
17. East Is East
18. The Tortilla Curtain - Textheft
19. She Wasn't Soft (Bloomsbury Birthday
20. Without a Hero

1. The Inner Circle
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Hardcover: 432 Pages (2004-09-09)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$3.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000EXYZJ0
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Fresh on the heels of his acclaimed novel Drop City, which was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award, T. C. Boyle has found another perfect subject for his hyperactive imagination. The Inner Circle makes use of Alfred Kinsey’s controversial studies on human sexuality—and the fascinating details of Kinsey’s life and those of the men who worked for him—to create an irresistible tale about the interaction between our human and animal natures. While The Inner Circle gives full play to this erotically charged material (and "should be read naked," according to the Chicago Sun-Times), it is at heart a moving and compassionate look at sex, marriage, and infidelity that will have readers everywhere nodding in recognition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (48)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Inside Look
This novel gives a fictional account of life among the Inner Circle of Dr. Kinsey, famed sex researcher.The main character, John Milk, is entirely fictious, however the author bases a lot of the plot on the actual researcher's life, research, methods, and very likely- his sexual proclivities.The story moves quickly, some of which I attribute to the subject matter itself (how is sex not interesting?), and almost immediately the reader is immersed in research about sex histories, "H" behavior, and how this ground breaking work interferes with relationships both within and outside of the Inner Circle.

There is not any measurable growth for Milk, who despite his growing uneasiness about the research methodologies never breaks from the Inner Circle.I would imagine for many readers this would cause the climax of the novel (pun intended) falls flat as Milk is either unable or unwilling to change his course in Kinsey's circle.

Overall, however, the novel is an interesting read, providing some insight of what might have been truly going on behind the scenes in Kinsey's work.The relationships between characters are very believable, and the struggles within them are very realistic.

On note of the audiobooks, the narrator's voice was so jarring that initially I didn't think I would be able to get through the novel- his stuffy, flat tone just didn't seem like it would be something I'd want to listen to for 15 hours!But, after about the first disk, the voice seemed to work and his tone, inflections, and pronunciations were exactly as Milk probably would sound like.

3-0 out of 5 stars Average
I am a huge fan of Boyle's and I thought this book lacked his usual nervy humor and it was definitely not a page turner. Although it's about Kinsey and sex sex sex it actually got sort of redundant and boring. With Boyle's unigue talents I would think he'd be one of the last writers in the world who could make sex boring, but perhaps he was just being faithful to his subject. I was really disappointed.

3-0 out of 5 stars Skip it
T.C. Boyle is a competent writer, but that's the extent of it in this slow novel that is dry of wisdom. Skip it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Back Home again in Indiana with Dr. Sex Alfred Kinsey and the girls and the boys at Indiana University
The Inner Circle is T.C. Boyle's novel of the work done by Dr. Albert Kinsey and the Sex Research Institue at Indiana University in Bloomington.
The novel is told by first person narrator John Milk. Milk is a naive IU English major when he attends a lecture by Kinsey in the days prior to World War II. Milk sets up a visit to Kinsey's home on the outskirts of Bloomington, Indiana the home of IU.
Milk is hired by Kinsey to help him with his sex research interviews staying until the professor's death in 1956. Milk receives a deferment during World War II so that he can serve as Kinsey's assistant. Milk is later joined by two other men who interview thousands of people on their sex lives. The job involves travel for interviews to the slums of Indianapolis to New York, Detroit and overseas among countless other towns and cities. Kinsey is an excellent interviewer who trains Milk and works his staff for incredibly long hours. He was a tough taskmastere who demanded much of his men. Kinsey's past is only briefly noted and we really never get inside his mind. Was he a genius or a self-deluded fraud? A mixture of both? We are left to make up our own minds.
Milk weds a complex woman named Iris who dislikes Kinsey. She refuses to undress and engage in a marital sex swap held at the bohemian home of Kinsey. Kinsey enjoyed having home movies made of persons in coitus. Milk engages in sex with both Dr. Kinsey (call profk by his staff) and Mrs. Kinsey! He also engages in both heterosexual and homosexual sex all for the good of science. (or at least that what we are told!). Kinsey was himself a bisexual whose calm professorial demeanor hid the smouldering fires of a sex addicted middle aged man.
Kinsey was a professor of entomology and zoology at IU. He had a Ph.d from Harvard. Profk was interested in nothing but sex as observed and participated in by what he called "the human animal." He was an atheist who believed nothing done to satisfy sexual urges was harmful to the human being. He was amoral. Kinsey enjoyed gardening, hard work on his sexual research, classical music evenings and sex with anyone at anytime!
Kinsey won fame with his two surveys on male and female sexuality in the late 40s and early 50s. The books became bestsellers and landed him on the covers of such magazine as Time.
Kinsey traveled widely lecturing to everyone from university students at Berkely and other campuses to the prisoners at San Quentin. He sat for thousands of interviews with clients who opened up to him on their sexual biographies. His work is still viewed as controversial even in our age of so called "enlightenment."
John Milk's narration allows us to view life in the Midwest during the mid twentieth century era. Bloomington was a small conservative college town with the bombshell work of Kinsey adding the only notoriety to its reputation.
Boyle tells the story in a fluid literary style. He is alert to the flora and fauna of the changing seasons and the growing eccentricity of Kinsey as the years passed. Kinsey failed to see love in sexual relations which led to his conflict with Iris Milk the strongest character in this tale. Many of the other characters are flat and one dimensional in their depiction by Boyle.
John Milk is a meek and mild man obedient to his hero Dr. Kinsey. He is blind to Kinsey's moral blindness and inability to truly love another human being.
T.C. Boyle has written another excellent novel in "The Inner Circle."

4-0 out of 5 stars Prurient Crew Produces Profound Research
The focus of THE INNER CIRCLE is Professor Alfred Kinsey, the sex researcher that John Milk, an employee of Kinsey and the narrator of this novel, considers one of the great and original geniuses of the twentieth century. Professor K, as described by Milk, is brilliant yet methodical, inspiring yet controlling, generous yet manipulative and demanding, and profoundly insightful yet a detail man. He is also a crusader against oppressive sexual mores and attitudes but a major sexual predator. With Prok, Boyle should get his due: He has created an unforgettable character.

One subject of this novel is the relationship between Prok and Milk. Milk describes Prok as a father figure. Further, he is a true believer in Prok's philosophy of sex, which holds that all sexual desire and activity is normal and that people must overcome their sexual inhibitions. In this type of novel--that is, one with a charismatic father-figure protagonist and sympathetic and dependent narrator--authors sometimes write toward moments of truth, which test both the greatness of the protagonist and the commitment of the narrator. Here, I will say that Boyle does write to such a climax in TIC. The question for the reader is: Is John Milk's moment of truth genuinely traumatic and affecting?

TIC is a historical novel, with Milk describing his 14 year association with Prok. This begins when Prok is a professor lecturing on sex to students at Indiana University, follows Prok through years of research that culminates in two best sellers, and ends with Prok's early death a 62. While Boyle also tells us plenty about the carnal private lives of Prok and his incestuous crew, the professional history of Kinsey is, essentially, about the relentless pursuit of data. While this story becomes progressively weirder, it is not especially dramatic. Further, the publication of Prok's two best-sellers are not presented as triumphs, since Kinsey viewed them as the first books in a series that he would never live to complete. As a result, this is a history book without a great narrative arc. Prok worked hard and died too soon. The sexual revolution that he enabled and that was his true goal began a decade after his death.

There's much to enjoy in this novel. Boyle writes an involving story and loads Milk's narrative voice with a subtle lyricism. And I like the character Iris, who stands up to power and charisma, retaining her sanity and, say, rightly calling some participants in Prok's research child molesters. Still, for a book about the sex lives of Kinsey and his crew and their investigation into American sexual practices, Milk's voice yields a book with a very restrained feel. Just like Margaret Mead said in her criticism of Kinsey's research: Isn't sex supposed to be fun?
... Read more

2. The Women (Wheeler Large Print Book Series)
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Hardcover: 829 Pages (2009-03-04)
list price: US$31.95 -- used & new: US$31.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1597229296
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From "America's most imaginative contemporary novelist" (Newsweek), a novel of Frank Lloyd Wright and the women in his life.

Having brought to life eccentric cereal king John Harvey Kellogg in The Road to Wellville and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in The Inner Circle, T.C. Boyle now turns his fictional sights on an even more colorful and outlandish character: Frank Lloyd Wright. Boyle's incomparable account of Wright's life is told through the experiences of the four women who loved him. There's the Montenegrin beauty Olgivanna Milanoff, the passionate Southern belle Maude Miriam Noel, the tragic Mamah Cheney, and his young first wife, Kitty Tobin. Blazing with his trademark wit and inventiveness, Boyle deftly captures these very different women and the creative life in all its complexity.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (81)

5-0 out of 5 stars Narcissistic, Egocentric Wright
This well written novel about Frank Lloyd Wright is told through a Japanese apprentice, Sato Tadashi, at Taliesen.The book is well researched and very interesting.

Aptly named, The Women, Olgivanna Milanoff Wright, Miriam Noel Wright, and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, all wives of Wright are really the main characters.Hiswife, Katherine, is barely mentioned though married to him for twenty years and mother to six of his children.

It is the sad, ridiculous story of a man who always wanted another woman, of women who initially were in love with being with the famous architect and then succumbing to him and ultimately being cast off.

I won't be able to see another picture of Fallingwater without thinking about what a jerk Frank Lloyd Wright was.

The writing is excellent, the story captivating, the women to be pitied and the man to be loathed.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I am sorry I bought this book from the description I had read.That description said it was told from the viewpoint of four of the women in Frank Lloyd Wright's life.Instead it is narrated by a Japanese apprentice and he is narrating things of which he has no direct knowledge.If that were not disconcerting enough, if you do become drawn into the story you get yanked out by the multitude of footnotes.Those "facts" could have easily been woven into the story so that it flowed.It makes it difficult to read and even harder to enjoy.A different approach could have made it a very smooth and interesting read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great "fictional" account of Frank Lloyd Wright's Women
"The Women" is a great fictional account of the women in Frank Lloyd Wright's life.Having just visited Taleisin in Wisconsin, I was enthralled by the narrative and could visualize it my imagination.

2-0 out of 5 stars a disappointment
I had previously read, "Loving Frank" which gave a wonderful portrayal of Frank Lloyd Wright."Loving Frank" was interesting and well written and very readable. Frank Lloyd Wright was an amazingly gifted man professionally, a prolific lover of women, and not a man I would have wanted to had in my life. When I read "The "Women", I had the same disdain for the man, but I found the novel to be very disjointed to read.My prime objection to the writing of this novel was the footnotes. It seemed as if every other page had lengthy footnotes, and I began to yell at the author that if that many footnotes were important, he should include the information in the story. The Footnotes became a huge distraction to me.

I would not recommend this book.
The Women: A Novel

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy-to-read, interesting and accurate historical fiction.
T. C. Boyle is an easy-to-read, interesting author who writes accurate historical fiction. This story about the women in the life of Frank Lloyd Wright is a realistic read. Anyone who knows Wright's architectural background will truly enjoy this book of his personal life. If you don't know or care about Wright's life, this book is still a very interesting read about a man's life in the years 1880s to 1950s. ... Read more

3. Talk Talk
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Hardcover: 633 Pages (2006-12-06)
list price: US$28.95
Isbn: 1597223948
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Over the past twenty-five years, T.C. Boyle has earned wide acclaim and an enthusiastic following with such adventurous, inimitable novels as The Tortilla Curtain, Drop City, and The Road to Wellville. For his riveting eleventh novel, Boyle offers readers the closest thing to a thriller he has ever written, a tightly scripted page turner about the trials of Dana Halter, a thirty-three-year-old deaf woman whose identity has been stolen. Featuring a woman in the lead role (a Boyle first), Talk Talk is both a suspenseful chase across America and a moving story about language, love, and identity from one of America’s most versatile and entertaining novelists. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars He Stole Her Identity and She Wants it Back
Dana Halter is a thirty-three-year-old deaf woman, who teaches deaf children. She has sort of a geek boyfriend named Bridger Martin who does special effects for movies. One day she's late for a dental appointment and she runs a stop sign. Unfortunately she's caught at it and the officer who stops her, after checking her ID, cuffs her and takes her to jail. It seems someone has stolen her identity and is wanted for passing bad paper, auto theft and even grand theft auto.

Flash to William Peck Wilson who has a shop-a-holic Russian girl friend named Natalia, who is so darned sexy one can't describe it. Natalia and her daughter live with Peck and he supports them and Natalia's habit by stealing identities. Currently he's going by Dr. Dana Halter and living the life of Riley in a condo by the ocean in Marin County.

Back to Dana. When she gets out of jail she finds the police don't seem to be all that interested in finding the person or persons who have caused her such grief. So she and Bridger decided to track down the culprit themselves. And there you have the ingredients of a story that kept me reading through a balmy weekend. T.C. Boyle knows his characters, those quirky, wonderful people who walk through the pages of his book. He knows how to draw you in, if you don't believe me, pick up this book, read the first page. I dare you to put it down after you do.

5-0 out of 5 stars Talk/Talk
Love this Book by T. C. Boyle. Clever, fun mystery about stolen identity of a hearing impaired young woman. She and her boyfriend try to track the culprit down and get involved in all sorts of interesting exploits. A great summer read.

1-0 out of 5 stars rooting for the bad guy
As many others have said, T C Boyle CAN write.Drop City was terrific.But this, after Part I, stunk.I found the whole easy id theft hard to swallow.How easy is it to put a house in someone else's name?Many things irked throughout the novel and by the end I was hoping the bad guy would just shoot the good guys.

2-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish it
I am a long-time TC Boyle fan, especially of his novels Riven Rock, Budding Prospects, and The Road to Wellville (his best novel IMO).

However, I found Talk Talk a bit slow and uninspiring. The plot bumped along without much excitement, and the characters are not very well developed or beliveable. The story never got going for me, and I couldn't find a solid connection to the main characters (especially Dana). I bailed about 3/4 of the way through it, and would have quit earlier if it hadn't been written by Boyle.

I'm looking forward to reading The Women, and will continue to read everything from Boyle who is one of my favs!

4-0 out of 5 stars Making lots out of the everyday
What I found most enjoyable about "Talk Talk" (and about TC Boyle's writing generally) is how he is able to create great literature out of "every day cirmcumstances" and "ordinary people". "Talk Talk" has no major hero (far from it, the nice guy gets badly beat up at one point); the "bad guy" is a low-life and a scum bag but still likeable (and his mean friend and mentor is quite funny). The moms that come up take typical "mom" attitudes. I think the device of making the main character deaf adds to the humanity of the story

That said, i thought Talk Talk was engaging and fun. It grips from begining to end through excellent writing and great characterization (all the minor characters are charming, from Radko to Natalia). In contrast to some reviewers, I thought the ending was quite powerful, unexpected and poignant. I look forward to lots more by TC Boyle ... Read more

4. Drop City
by T Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 528 Pages (2004)

Isbn: 0142004286
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (118)

5-0 out of 5 stars Far Out
I am a fan of TC Boyle's highly imaginative, colorful tales.DROP CITY was certainly no letdown, and my favorite read of the summer.Like moths to a flame, disaffected suburban youths are drawn to California's hippie culture in the 1960s.They are dropping out of the stale, overly-stable lives of their parents, and dropping into the total instability of life in the commune.Boyle drops us into the commune quickly, too, painting with rich brushstrokes his portraits of the hippies.A reader almost expects to be handed the communal joint -- Boyle brings us close in...

...then cuts to the pragmatic homesteaders in Alaska, putting their lives together, preparing for the long winter ahead.It's a quick and sudden transition for the book, but the minute we arrive in Alaska to meet this distinctly different, hardy backwoods group, the reader can quickly surmise what eventually happens...a meeting and clash of the two cultures.Sure enough, the hippies follow their avuncular guru, their leader Norm Sender, on a magic carpet ride to the last frontier.To a life for which they are most unprepared.Idealism meet Pragmatism.

Brighter minds than mine on these boards scold Boyle for not creating more of a lasting masterpiece, and criticize his tongue-in-cheek writing style.I cannot concur.I find Boyle's caricatures of the hippies (and the backwoods Alaskan frontiersmen) as entertaining as any of Dickens' characters, and like the goofy cover, a fun kaleidoscope of skin, sin and grin.Gradgrind and Chuzzlewit: meet Star, Pan and Harder.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I loved this book.I was sad when it was over, because I became really attached to the characters.It bothered me that, when it ended, I didn't know what would happen next,

4-0 out of 5 stars I loved this!
Great story, well written.The only drawback and why it did not receive 5 stars is because it was sometimes like reading two different books because the author kept switching back and forth between the hippies in California and the Alaskan folks living off the land.The story does converge eventually, but in the meantime, it was a little hard to keep finding a connection between the two groups until they meet up in the end.

4-0 out of 5 stars Happy Readings
I attempted reading this novel in a time when I was less seasoned in the topics within this book. After attempting this novel a second time I have found it to be one of the most different novels in my personal library. I take it for what it is while others that have reviewed have really torn it apart. I hope that you will take it for what it is and try it out. Tune in, turn on, and drop into drop city...just for a week. :)

4-0 out of 5 stars two responses to the sixties/seventies
A hippie commune in california gets bulldozed by the county, so the hippies pull up stake and move the commune to the interior of Alaska.

A youngish man woos and marries a young woman who is looking for a man that can really live off the land and away from the social disorders of the sixties and seventies.

these two stories are told independently for the first half of the book, until they collide - fantastic book. incredibly well written. the characters are all well developed, but mostly don't evolve, with two exceptions. it ends predictably, but it's enjoyable getting there.

it painted an honest pictures of hippies, which was great, coming from an aging hippie. too often they get painted up as beautiful creatures of light that were destroyed by America- this book portrayed them honestly- as a true piece of american culture, but also with the less than admirable truths- the fact that they were flakey, mooched off the govt by living on food stamps and welfare checks- that they stole and cheated and denied their own weaknesses, even when they stare them in face. blech.

one of the characters- a guy, a cat- Ronny, no, Pan he liked to be called now - is one of the most contemptable characters in all of literature. put five years on Holden Caufield, and make him a hippie. the unjustifed self-righteousness - the self pity- the nastiness disguised as whatever-the-heck Holden was about- Ronny/Pan is a great addition to American letters. ... Read more

5. Wild Child [With Earbuds] (Playaway Adult Fiction)
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Preloaded Digital Audio Player: Pages (2010-03)
list price: US$59.99 -- used & new: US$55.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1441721169
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A feral boy is captured and ‘civilised’ in the Languedoc region. A young woman is hired to look after a cloned dog that cost its owners $250,000. A widower in a self-satisfied suburb engulfs his loneliness in a sea of rats. A weary city GP is baffled by a Mexican boy, the son of a taco-seller, who can feel no pain. A junior film editor invents the death of his own daughter because he can’t face going in to work. A vindictive teenager with a gasoline fixation runs into trouble with his Japanese neighbour. Two washed-up crooners in 1950s New York get creative while recording a schmaltzy Christmas special. In this beguiling new collection of stories, T. C. Boyle, one of the world’s greatest storytellers, explores the improbable, the tragic, the allegorical and the altogether ordinary. ... Read more

6. The Road to Wellville (Penguin Audiobooks)
Audio Cassette: Pages (1995-01-26)
-- used & new: US$125.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140860371
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The hilarious account of Dr John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of the cornflake and peanut butter. The author talks about Kellogg's profligate, degenerate and opportunistic son and the birth of America's first health fanatics. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars a delight
the first tc boyle book i have read.pure pleasure. the style the humor the story all is absolutely delightful!! and so current !!

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining
I was thoroughly entertained by this book. Every single thing in it is surprising and/or hilarious. The characters are very alive and none of the plot is expected. I didn't want the book to end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Goodloe H. Bender: con man to the max
I sketch this review of T. C. Boyle's comic masterpiece, THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE, on Monday March 8, 2010, having just read all 35 customer reviews currently carried by amazon.com. In four or five of them I found flashes of originality, and another dozen came across as searching and well beyond ordinary. Thank you, my fellow reviewers!

Against that backdrop, here are a few observations strewn around the margins of both the novel and its reviews just mentioned. Perhaps I can fill in a gap or two.

-- (1) T. C. Boyle reminds me of novelist Sinclair Lewis, notably in ELMER GANTRY (satire of a preacher), THE MAN WHO KNEW COOLIDGE (poking fun at the corny wisdom of a traveling salesman) and IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE (a satire of a Rotary Club in national politics).

-- (2) THE ROAD TO WELLNESS is not at all a bad (albeit slim) introduction to the early years of American Seventh-day Adventism, as Dr John Harvey Kellogg wrenches control of the Battle Creek Sanitarium away from the Adventist prophetess who had paid for him to go through medical school, "Sister" Ellen White.

-- (3) The subordinate fictional character Goodloe H. Bender deserves a closer look.

-- (4) 19th Century Europe's and America's search for "the road to wellville" is well captured in spirit by T. C. Boyle


(1)Regarding Sinclair Lewis (1885 - 1951) and T. C. Boyle (1948 - ). I have read all of Sinclair Lewis's novels, but only THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE among T. C. Boyle's output. Both Americans wield the satirist's pen, looking at the rigid, humorous, exaggerated, betimes fanatical aspects of their main characters. They seem to have similar research-drenched narrative habits. When Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature, set out to write about a bunch of New Hampshire Rotarians and their politics during a fictitious fascist takeover of the U. S. Government (just after Hitler's rise to power), he immersed himself in visits to Rotary clubs. He did much the same with ELMER GANTRY, assembling preachers of various religions to bounce ideas off.

Although in some areas of THE ROAD TO WELLNESS, Boyle enlarged my ideas of the facts of 1907-08 Michigan, America, Adventist religion and the pursuit of wellness, in others he did not. I already knew them. Where I knew more things than Boyle chose to write, he was always, to my knowledge, accurate as to facts. As was Sinclair Lewis. In Acknowledgements, T. C. Boyle identifies the two principal sources for his facts: Ronald M. Deutsch, THE NUTS AMONG THE BERRIES and Gerald Carson, CORNFLAKE CRUSADE.

(2)About Adventism and religion generally. Boyle makes it clear that Seventh-day Adventism had at one time been Dr John Harvey Kellogg's personal religion and that he retained no small number of its beliefs about health. Boyle shows Dr Kellogg wrenching control of the Battle Creek Sanitarium away from Adventist founding prophetess Ellen Gould Harmon White and her shadowy "elders." This take-away was no small feat, as Elen White was one of the most formidable women in any field that America has ever produced. See Ronald L. Numbers' classic 1976, revised 1992, PROPHETESS OF HEALTH: A STUDY OF ELLEN G. WHITE. Without her early patronage, Dr. Kellogg would never have taken his good medical degree. Note also the parallel in history and the novelof C. W. Post's allegedly stealing a recipe from John Harvey Kellogg's office safe to found the cereal empire that has given us Postum, Post Toasties and Grape Nuts. Ditto for brother William Kellogg's forcing John Harvey out of control of the cereal company that the latter had founded. Delicious ironies.

(3)Goodloe H. Bender. He is an entirely fictional character. In six months Bender has promised tomake his naive 25-year old partner, Charlie Ossining, a millionaire. Ossining remembers Bender's suit as flashy, his shoes buffed. Bender, dreams Charlie while traveling by train from New York to far Battle Creek, will have all equipment already purchased, a work force lined up, orders in hand.

We will meet Goodloe Bender a dozen more times, but everything we need to know is revealed in Bender's first November 1907 meeting in Battle Creek with wannabe millionaire Charlie Ossining. Five weeks earlier, back in Peterskill, New York, Mrs Amelia Hookstratten, Charlie's doting patroness, had signed over $1,000 to Bender. What Charlie finds in Battle Creek is that Bender has spent all Mrs Hookstratten's money living the high life himself while accomplishing nothing concrete for the new celery-enriched cereal company. He had parked young Charlie in a cheap Norwegian boarding house 20 blocks away by foot. Meanwhile Bender is living it up in the Post Tavern Hotel, Battle Creek's grandest. Bender has kept Ossining cooling his heels an hour while he finishes up a profitable poker game with local "notables.'

After some softening up of the young sucker, con man Bender asks, "You've got the check, I presume." Charlie reacts: "The check. The cash. Bender didn't care about him, didn't care about anyone or anything -- all he cared about was Mrs. Hookstratten's money. (Part One, Ch. 6). Perceptive of Charlie. But it did him no good. Articulate, almost mind-reading Bender played Charlie and his get-rich-quick greed like a violin throughout the rest of the novel. Months later, toward the end Bender skipped town (only to be arrested in Detroit), leaving Charlie still with no factory and also with Bender's unpaid bills.

Bender is delicious. Like one of Sir Walter Scott's rogues, even with a bit of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff about him. It is a pleasure to make the literary acquaintance of Goodloe H. Bender. Charlie tried at that first meeting in November 1907 to pull back from the spider's web: "Listen, Goodloe." In reply, Charlie heard "Good, Charlie. Just call me 'Good,' for short. Let my enemies call me 'Goodloe'-- or Mr. Bender.'"So long, sucker!

(4)American Concern for Healthy Living.

As early as the 1840s many Americans were thinking and writing their separate and collective ways into healthy living: away with corsets for women! No tobacco or spirits! No meat! Fresh air! Nudism!

And there was often a religious dimension to the road to wellness. Ellen White nee Harmon was told by God in 1863 that He wanted all men to be healthy. Over the decades God gave Mrs White precise details. Later, Mrs Mary Baker Eddy, foundress of Christian Science, gave health an even more intellectual religious spin. DrJohn Harvey Kellogg preached ingesting nuts and five times daily irrigating the colon , breathing radium and more. Kellogg had, during a visit to Africa, observed the healthy defecation habits of baboons. He then applied their wisdom to his patients in Battle Creek. Bad science? No, not exactly. Early science, yes, but correctible science. All medicine, I dare to guess, looks primitive a hundred years later.

THE ROAD TO WELLNESS is a once in a generation grand Rabelaisian comic masterpiece. And the film, THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE, that opened only months after the novel hit the streets, is the best, most faithful film adaptation of any novel I know. I hope that you will enjoy them both.

3-0 out of 5 stars Book review
Interesting book, well written, good author.Points out how far some will go to follow the latest "medical" wisdom.Hilarious is some spots, poignantly sad in others.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fiction
Set in an authentic time and place, the book is purely fictional entertainment and twists the history of Battle Creek Sanitarium at the start of the 20th century. The movie is much worse than the book! Both are weighted with adult content.

7. Riven Rock
by T.C. Boyle, T. Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 480 Pages (1999-01-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$1.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014027166X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
T. C. Boyle's seventh novel transforms two characters straight out of history into rich mythic figures whose tortured love story is as heartbreaking as it is hilarious. It is the dawn of the twentieth century when the beautiful, budding feminist Katherine Dexter falls in love with Stanley McCormick, son of a millionaire inventor. The two wed, but before the marriage is consummated, Stanley experiences a nervous breakdown and is diagnosed as a schizophrenic sex maniac. Locked up for the rest of his life at Riven Rock, the family's California mansion, Stanley is treated by a series of confident doctors determined to cure him. But his true salvation lies with Katherine who, throughout her career as a scientist and suffragette, continues a patient vigil from beyond the walls of Riven Rock, never losing hope that one day Stanley will be healed.Blending social history with some of the most deliciously dark humor ever written, Boyle employs his hallmark virtuoso prose to tell the story of America's age of innocence--and of a love affair that is as extraordinary as it is unforgettable.Amazon.com Review
In 1905, Stanley McCormick, heir to East Coast millions, is most definitely mad. Heredity and an early, horrifying glimpse of his naked sister have rendered him schizophrenic, incapable of being around women--right down to his wife, Katherine, "a newlywed who might as well have been a widow." Not even the dawn of modern psychiatry can save him. Instead, he's barred and carefully cosseted in Riven Rock, the California estate he helped design for his sister, the first of the McCormicks to crack. Will the 31-year-old patient be cured? His wife, the first female graduate of MIT, believes that he will. So, too, does his loyal head nurse, Eddie O'Kane, a preternaturally articulate, handsome Boston Irishman. Indeed, Eddie thinks himself blessed with good luck. Going to Montecito to care for Mr. McCormick will, he is convinced, enable him to take center stage in the drama of his own life.

Over the next 20 years, Stanley will go from catatonia to a semblance of normality (so long as there's no woman in sight and no sharp cutlery on the table). Eddie, however, will never play the leading role he'd envisioned, instead taking refuge in alcohol and recollections of the one woman he thinks he has let get away, the plainspoken, explosive Giovannella Dimucci. When Eddie first describes his patient's violent response to women, "he wondered if he'd gone too far, if he'd shocked her, but the mask dissolved and she leaned in close, her hand on his elbow. 'Sounds like the average man to me.'" As for Katherine McCormick, she will still visit every Christmas, hoping to at least see her husband if she can't see him get better.

Based on a true story, Riven Rock is unclassifiable, a discomforting and often hilarious mix of tragedy and comedy. (Only Orson Welles could do the book justice on film.) T. C. Boyle writes in a controlled frenzy of rich description and dialogue, pulling us up sharply each time we begin to wonder if his patient isn't a helpless victim. Eddie recalls one nurse before Stanley "got to her": "She was a shadow in a back corner of his mind, a cat you pick up to stroke and then put down again when it stops purring.... Now she was back in Rhode Island, with her mother, but the look of her that day, the way her eyes had melted away to nothing and the color had gone out of her so you could see every lash and hair on her head like brushstrokes in oil, came to him in infinite sadness."

Boyle has great empathy, but there is no avoiding his novel's comic energy. Stanley's first psychiatrist-jailer, Dr. Hamilton, is obsessed with primate sexuality and will go to Riven Rock only if Katherine funds a large living laboratory. He spends all of his time watching the imprisoned creatures copulate, a pathetic counterpoint to his patient's plight. The sight of the disheveled doctor following one animal encounter amuses even the suspicious Katherine. "To his credit, the doctor laughed too. And O'Kane, the bruiser, who'd gone absolutely pale at the tiny hominoids that couldn't have weighed a twentieth of what he did, joined in, albeit belatedly and with a laugh that trailed off into a whinny." Alas, all goes awry when Hamilton takes the joke too far and declares his chimps "the very devils--they're even worse than my patients." Riven Rock is a maximum-velocity study of love, primal energy, and what is sacrosanct in society: control. It is also about loyalty, absurdity, domesticity, and depravity, all of which, Boyle knows, coexist within the best of souls. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (47)

4-0 out of 5 stars Riveting Riven Rock
Well, riveting is a strong adjective but it was the only word I could come up with that flowed with the title.However, Riven Rock is a very worthwhile read, an interesting tale based on real life sort of stuff.T.C. Boyle shares his fictional take on a wealthy turn of the century couple- Katherine Dexter and Stanley McCormack.Katherine and Stanley are a love story gone all wrong- not because of the usual ailments marriages have but rather mental illness.Stanley suffers from "dementia praecox"- or what is now commonly known as schizophrenia.Katherine has him committed in the confines of Riven Rock- a large compound built for his older sister who also suffered from the disease- where he is attended to by psychiatrists, nurses, and other care takers (all of the male persuation) in hopes for a cure.Years go by, and Katherine continues on in her own life while holding out hope that one day her husband will become "normal".

Boyle also adds to the story by elaborating on the head nurse O'Kane.O'Kane- a man with enough of his own problems- provides extra entertainment throughout the novel.The novel is well written, humorously detailed, and ultimately- tragic.Overall I felt this was an excellent read and am already moved on to another Boyle novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars gripping
There is a tremendous wealth of psychological detail moving from the study of ape behavior to a fully Freudian treatment by a doctor charging $10,000 per month to talk to Stanley McCormick about his family matters, his own personal judges, etc., but mainly I was inspired by the perfection with which Stanley could act like a spoiled brat befuddled by fundamental expectations that he could behave in a normal manner if certain conditions were right. The head male nurse Eddie O'Kane is the character which allows the novel to explore sexual relations in three different contexts that turn out like O'Kane buying an orange grove with a well that runs dry. It helps to be familiar with basic blues themes, like I can't be satisfied, but anyone sentimental enough to read about Presbyterians having a dinner party as a setting for an emotional outburst should find this book intriguing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Where is the plot? Where is the climax?
I was astounded at the few 1- and 2-star reviewers, who complained that the book meandered plotlessly, lacked a climax, and contained unlikeable characters.

Take a tip, folks, this a historical novel about real people. Real people, full of tics, twitches, and quirks are not required to be likeable. And real people's lives rarely follow some engrossing plot, or culminate in some satisfying climax.

Here, as in other books, Boyle did what he is especially skilled at. Using vivid historical figures set in a vivid historical context, he then invented all the dialog and some of the detail, without damaging the historical facts. The best part--evidently invisible to the negative reviewers--is Boyle's gift at storytelling. No great climax? Right, there are dozens of small and satisfying climaxes. No charismatic characters? Right, these are unusual people stumbling over hubris, emotional sickness, and poor judgment, and Boyle's mastery of language makes us want to peer deeper.

Long book? Good for me, because that was more a forecast of skilled storytelling than of hours of drudgery.

4-0 out of 5 stars Love, lust, psychosis
T.C Boyle's novel based on the true story of Stanley and Katherine McCormick is a fascinating and moving description of severe mental illness and the toll it takes on family.The book investigates the physical, mental, and societal aspects of human sexuality and the fine line between normal and abnormal behavior.

The story is mainly told from the perspectives of McCormick's head nurse, Eddie O'Kane and from Katherine McCormick, Stanley's wife.Stanley, the son of a multimillionaire, shows signs of what would later be diagnosed as schizophrenia as a very young man, but finishes college and starts work at the firm his father founded manufacturing reaping machines.He pursues Katherine Dexter, the first female science graduate of MIT and a future leader of the woman's movement, and eventually the two wed amidst great opposition from his decidedly deranged mother. Once Stanley becomes too psychotic to remain at home, he is committed to a mental institution and then moved to Riven Rock, an estate originally designed to house Stanley older sister, who also suffered from schizophrenia. Eddie O'Kane was hired as McCormick's nurse and stays with him for over twenty years, and his experiences with women in some way mirror his employer's.

One of the more puzzling aspects of the story is Katherine's decision to marry Stanley even after his obvious mental problems become apparent.I think part of her motivation was to "win" the battle with Stanely's mother, who was determined to break up the couple for reasons not altogether altruistic.Like most people in love, it's easy to overlook the obvious (family history of mental illness, behaviors bordering on the insane, strong opposition from family) and perhaps Katherine thought she was entering into a noble fight. As a scientist, perhaps she truly believed that Stanley could be "cured" given enough medical expertise. She certainly believed that treatment should include more than just the "talk" therapy favored by the McCormick family and a physiological cause for his illness should be considered and treated accordingly. Money plays a significant role in his later treatment and also the competing interests of family members and doctors who vie to control his estate.

The contrast between Stanley McCormick's psychopathic attacks on women and Eddie O'Kane's just plain misogynistic attitudes becomes increasingly blurred as the novel progresses.Which man causes more harm to women in the long run? At least there weren't any illegitimate or abandoned McCormick's running around.

Boyle writes so lyrically and possesses great skill in description that it's easy to imagine the languid days in Santa Barbara, the icy cold of Boston, and the feel of a transcontinental train journey. My only disappointment was the rather abrupt ending of the book; we know what happed with Katherine, but what became of O'Kane and the other supporting characters after their golden goose laid the final egg?A very well written book just short of being excellent.

4-0 out of 5 stars NUTS
TCB colors in the dusty old black & white history of a celebrity American couple - Mr. & Mrs. Stanley McCormick.He, the lunatic son of Cyrus McCormick, and heir to the fortune of the International Harvester Company.She, the gallant Katherine Dexter McCormick, first female to graduate MIT with a science degree, champion suffragette and eventual sponsor of the birth control pill. Riven Rock is the mansion built and maintained by the extended McCormick family originally to house Stanley's crazed older sister, and now Stanley, a schizophrenic and sexual psychopath.At Riven Rock, high atop the California coastline, Stanley is walled off from any contact with the opposite gender for over two decades, and administered by a series of self-serving quacks.

RIVEN ROCK gives a wink to Boyle's earlier novel THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE thatportrays similar quackery at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, and in a way serves as a good sequel to that novel.Boyle uses the almost farcical real life history as launching pad to a masterfully told tale, albeit dishearteningly sad, of the lives between the headlines of these historical figures.He excels in painting in his own characters who inhabit the periphery of the history:Eddie O'Kane, the ever optimistic and loyal Irish nurse who spills from one tumult to the next; the various doctor/administrators of Riven Rock, who are lunatic in their own way; and the many employees and servents of the McCormick entourage.Equally brilliant are Boyle's descriptions of the madcap day-to-day operations of the lunatic asylum, including chases about the grounds, digging up gopher holes, sprinting after the escaped patient and so forth.A bit of Keystone Cops meets Cuckoo's Nest.

The novel grows a bit long in the end, and leaves us wanting another tale exclusively focused on Eddie O'Kane. As interesting imaginative background on a woman, Katherine Dexter, who played an enormous role in women's contraception and left a lasting legacy at her alma mater, RIVEN ROCK is entertaining commentary on social issues of the early twentieth century.
... Read more

8. The Collected Stories of T.Coraghessan Boyle
by T.Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 621 Pages (1998-07-03)
list price: US$20.65 -- used & new: US$10.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1862071837
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Editorial Review

Product Description
T. Coraghessan Boyle is regarded as one of America's greatest living short-story writers. This publication brings together all his stories into one volume. ... Read more

9. If the River Was Whiskey: Stories (Contemporary American Fiction)
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
 Hardcover: Pages (1990-01)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1417703067
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Eccentrics, charlatans, and decent, vulnerable people. You'll find them all in this acclaimed collection of stories. From "Sorry Fugu," the tale of an improbable romance between a restaurateur and a food critic, to "The Little Chill," a chronicle of 60's survivors in arrested development, these works are magical, surprising, haunting, and hilarious. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Boyle's Book Boils With Greatness
Most of these stories are incredibly well-written.The contents are bizarre - - ordinary people caught in their obsessive ambitions - - and the reader looks on with wide eyes at the fiercely funny and tragic lives of the misguided protagonists.

'Sorry Figu' is great.It's about a great chef at the mercy of a cruel, mean-spirited restaurant reviewer.

'Modern Love' is one of my all-time favorite short stories.A woman, obsessed with dirt and germs requires that her lovers wear a a full body condom.

'Peace of Mind' is a wonderful story about a woman who sells alarm systems to upper class folks to ward off intruders.She tells them tales of mayhem that could have been prevented if the household had only had an alarm.The ensuing events are tragic, yet incongruently funny.

'Sinking House' is about an old woman who runs water from ever faucet to flood her house and wash away the memories of her evil husband.Unfortunately, she's started to wash away and sink her neighbor's house along with her own.

'The Human Fly' is about a homeless n'eer-do-well who seeks fame and fortune by becoming the Evel Kneivel of the air - - the human fly.This story examines the atrocities to which we are willing to subject ourselves for a few moments of attention and to feed our own pride.

'The Ape Lady in Retirement' is about a retired anthropologist who is discovered by a young student.The anthropologist returns to her profession for a short while only to be done in by an ape while the idiotic student looks on.

These are some of the wondrous types of stories you'll find in this fabulous collection.I recommend you buy this book and read all the stories, many of which I have not even mentioned.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sparkling as the day written
Written almost 20 years ago, these stories are still sparkling and fresh. Some of the plots are preposterous, but make you a believer. The human fly ties himself to airplane wings and the undercarriages of semis. The ape lady retires to Connecticut with an unruly chimp. Irv Cherniske meets the devil in the woods behind his house. A widow celebrates her overbearing husband's death by flooding her house.

All of the stories are vigorous and imaginative. And Boyle's prose is crisp and apt. "Sorry Fugu" is flawless in its choreography. What a great mini-play or film it would make.

Not a dud in the lot, though The Little Chill left me cool. It's evident that these are earlier stories than those in Tooth and Claw, but only because the youthful point of view shows through; certainly his writing talent was blazing even back in 1989.

5-0 out of 5 stars If the river was whisky -- let me drown!
Boyle is one of the best short story writers around today. His short stories are enjoyable and varied. This compilation of short stories contains some of the most perfect gems that I've ever read. First published in 1989, none of these stories feel dated. They could easily have been published last year.

So, they're good. They're really good. What's more, this is a great compilation to read if you're trying to write short stories. Many of them, especially the shorter ones like "Sorry Fugu" and "Hard Sell," have similar structure that worthwhile to consider when writing your own short fiction. I'm not suggesting that these are formulaic, anything but. However, if you read several of them, preferably in a row, you get a feel for Boyle's construction, which is that there is a situation with an antagonist, the POV character makes a decision to outflank the antagonist, and then a suggestion of what the outcome of that situation will be.

Stories in this compilation:

Sorry Fugu
Modern Love
Hard Sell
Peace of Mind
Sinking House
The Human Fly
The Hat
Me Cago en la Leche (Robert Jordan in Nicaragua)
The Little Chill
King Bee
Thawing Out
The Devil and Irv Cherniske
The Miracle at Ballinspittle
The Ape Lady in Retirement
If the River Was Whisky

TK Kenyon
Author of Rabid: A Novel and Callous: A Novel

5-0 out of 5 stars how can it be so funny and weird while the prose still sings
wow, this book will basically just blow your mind.it's so upseting and weird in Boyle's tradmark darkly comic way (think Coen Brothers wooing Flannery O'Conner) and yet -- hotdamn -- on the sentence level, this prose is just out of sight.Beautifully written and laugh-out-loud funny, too?It's the perfect cross of high and low culture, like the Simpsons or the Coen Bros, if you're a smart, engaged reader, there really is something on every level of funny and weird, but the focous doesn't eclipse tender or meaningful . . . no, instead this collection really does match the wickedness of the smart-..., knowing hipster with the empathetic tug of "literary fiction."The perfect kind of thing to turn people on to short stories, this collection ends each time with a knockout punch.

5-0 out of 5 stars As a matter of justice, I must review...
...I don't have time to write much here, but the average customer rating is WAY too low for this great book of short stories.In fact, I'm here right now buying it for a friend.T.C. Boyle has such a unique perspective on the world, and I read this book 3 years ago and I still remember many of the stories like I just read them yesterday.Particularly "Sorry Fugu," the unforgettable opening story about a chef and his critic coming together through food.I'll also never forget the story about the adopted kid obsessed with bees.That one will freak you out.Ok, well sorry for not being eloquent here but this is a great book... ... Read more

10. The Tortilla Curtain
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 355 Pages (1996-09-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014023828X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
While leading their lives in their gated hilltop community in Los Angeles, Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher accidently meet Mexican illegal aliens Ca+a7ndido and Ame+a7rica Rinco+a7n, and their encounter brings them together in a relationship of error and misunderstanding. Reprint. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (274)

2-0 out of 5 stars Too stereotypical
This is a novel set in Southern California in the 1990s. A nature writer married to a real estate agent hits an illegal Mexican migrant with his car; the migrant is pushed onto the road by a Latino thug who wants to have sex with his wife. The lives of the nature writer and the real estate agent, the migrant and his pregnant 17-year-old wife, and the Latino thug and his buddy intersect in many ugly ways. Having been robbed when they crossed the border, the migrants cannot rent an apartment, so they camp out in a canyon near the housing development where the nature writer and the real estate agent live. The husband is robbed by criminals and cheated by dishonest labor contractors; the wife is raped by the Latino thug. After somebody gives the husband a gift of frozen Thanksgiving turkey, he builds a fire and starts a brushfire in the canyon, which destroys many houses, including the real estate agent's prime property. The nature writer incorrectly tells the police that the Latino thug and his friend started the fire; the police arrests them and they spit in his face. The nature writer comes to hate the Mexicans, and is about to force the migrants out of their camp when a mudslide carries them all into the river, the migrants' newborn daughter drowns, but the migrant saves the nature writer's life.

The literary merits of this book are slight; the rape scene in John Irving's The World according to Garp made me (briefly) disgusted with sex and ashamed of being a male; the rape scene in this book didn't. The plot of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities also centers on a rich white man hitting a poor nonwhite (child in Wolfe's case) with his car, but Wolfe is equally critical of the rich and the poor, while Boyle is so hard on the rich couple and so admiring of the poor couple that I started to feel sorry for the former. Judging by the over 200 reviews on Amazon, this book is popular in high school and college English classes; many reviewers are Latino immigrants themselves, and they say that this book's portrayal of the misfortunes of the migrant couple is grossly exaggerated. By law hospitals in California are forced to treat indigent patients, including illegal immigrants; thus the migrant girl didn't have to give birth in a barn.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lots of "what ifs"
This book sees both sides of the story so well.Some of it is predictable, but
just when you think you have it, off you go in a surprising direction.Lots of
pertinent issues....sounds trite, but the book makes black and white very very grey.
I love this author.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Wasteland of Well-drawn Stereotypes
I have to say, there were moments in the reading of this novel during which I really wanted to know what was going to happen next. I can even say that I liked one of the characters ("America," the homeless undocumented wife of one of the two central characters).But I did not pick this book up to raise my social consciousness, and that is what Boyle was trying to do to me in the most condescending and manipulative ways.

You can read the inside baseball in any of these other two hundred-plus reviews, so here's my take: Illegal Mexicans are kind, honest, hardworking, deserving people: the salt of the earth.Upper-middle class white American liberals are cold, shallow, self-centered and materialistic hypocrites.Thanks for pitching, T.C, but I think I'll walk.I despise most of those people, too, but I think they are more sincere and thoughtful than this book gives them credit.

Finally, a note on the plot: You know those films/novels that require a suspension of disbelief, which you grant because there is an odd plausibility within the context of the impossible?Well, this novel isn't one of them: Instead, every single thing that happens COULD happen in real life, but strung together as a plot, there is just no way.The net effect for me was a nagging pain in the neck from shaking my head thinking, "No, T.C., no."

He's a good writer, but this one doesn't work.Check out "Drop City" by the same author;

5-0 out of 5 stars America the "Melting Pot"
The characters that populate this story are vivid and Boyle does a great job of building suspense as the story progresses.It would be an excellent choice for sharing with a book club or for use in an educational setting.If you enjoy reading and thinking deeply you will find much to ponder.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not at all impressed
I recently read this book for a book club. I found it trite and terribly predictable - and, ready made for a TV movie or series. So, a couple from Mexico cross the border illegally, she becomes pregnant, he is beaten up, they live in the canyons, they get robbed, she gets raped, they get robbed again, she has a baby, the baby is blind, they set fire to the canyon, they find a safe haven, then the mud slides hit....what was left out?

Why do people read this and think it is good? And, why should people feel guilty if they have a job and raise a family?

Did not like the book or what it implied. ... Read more

11. Descent of Man
by T. Coraghessan BOYLE
 Hardcover: Pages (1979)

Asin: B003FJ9ABI
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Often uneven, usually funny, always inventive.
As with most first collections of short stories, 'Descent of Man' is pretty uneven.Too many stories feel like sketches for comedy shows, one joke spun out for pages.There are a few that are Kafka-lite, others a little too in love with the sound of their own voice; the last story, in its detached misogyny, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

This is still a highly entertaining book.Themes, subjects, charaters, motifs etc. recur, as the antiseptic, over-confident world of modern capitalism is blighted by beasts, nature, disasters: those things so alien to us we can never predict or destroy them, try as we might.This is an ugly re-vision of Darwin, evolution in reverse, survival of the sneakiest.The Boyle gallery of finks, thieves, perverts, latterday Josef Ks, cuckolds, killers, greed- and ambition-devouring monsters are not a pretty lot, but raise some delicious laughs.

There are some excellent pastiches here of Borges, Wells, Haggard etc., but, and perhaps this is the flaw, we're always reading Boyle.'The Second Swimming' (about Mao's birthday celebrations), 'The Big Garage' (the mock-Kafka tale of a motorist's car breaking down) and 'The Extinction Tales' (an extraordinary catalogue of historical 'progress') at least are masterpieces.A fun way to enjoy the end of the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Melange of Boyle's Greatest
... This could be one of the best collections of short stories by an author I have ever read in my entire life. The title story is utterly brilliant and one of the most amusing. My favorite, HEART OF A CHAMPION, is the one I thought brought about the most internal laughter, the story of a boy and his collie. Other favorites, most of them more thought-provoking than ha-ha-worthy include THE SECOND SWIMMING, A WOMAN'S RESTAURANT, THE EXTINCTION TALES, and DROWNING. A strange thing I noticed: the stories seem to progress from funny to gloomy according to their appearance. I had originally planned to exchange this book with a friend once I was done, but when I had finished it I knew that I would want to read this again. Of all the emotions these stories force you to accept, disappointment isn't one of them.

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice, but why not go straight to the sources?
These were solid, humorous stories, but it was tough for me not to thinkabout the superior masters of the short story who T.C. was obviouslyinfluenced by or paying homage to.Boyle makes it quite clear that"The Big Garage" is his homage to Kafka's "The Trial,"(not a short story).He also makes it clear that "The Human Fly"from IF THE RIVER WAS WHISKEY is an homage to Kafka's "The HungerArtist."So, if you are thinking about reading this and you haven'tyet read Kafka's great stories, such as "The Hunger Artist,""The Metamorphosis" or "In the Penal Colony," doyourself a favor and read those first.

Another writer who came to mindwhile I read this was Donald Barthelme.The story "De RerumNatura" especially reminded me of Barthelme.Again, though, Boyledoesn't measure up to his influence.

Of course, Boyle deserves to bejudged on his own merits and, by that standard, he is pretty good.And Ihave to give him credit if he inspired me to read more of Kafka, Barthelmeand Jorge Luis Borges, another master of the short story.

You'll never forget reading this book.The story "Descent of Man" is one of the funniest things I have ever read.The rest areequally satisfying, although, not all funny.Some of the stories, whilethought provoking, are somewhat gloomy.Still, those that are not in thecomedic vein, "Drowning" and "The Extinction Tales"come to mind, are highly entertaining and not to be disregarded.As forthe rest, "The Champ," "John Barleycorn Lives,""Quetzacoatl Lite" and etc. etc. are absolutely some of the mostamusing stories I'v ever had the pleasure of stumbling across.Descent ofMan rocks my world!!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars You'll laught till you cry
I think Descent of Man and Green Hell are two of the funniest short stories I have ever read.Either of these two are worth the price of the book.

You may want to read only a few stories at a time as they tend toget a little dark and depressing, but the two titles mentioned above aregems. ... Read more

12. Budding Prospects
by T.Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 326 Pages (1998-02-19)
list price: US$14.45 -- used & new: US$6.42
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1862071527
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Felix is a quitter, with a poor track record behind him. Until the day the opportunity presents itself to make half a million dollars tax-free - by nurturing 390 acres of cannabis in the lonely hills of northern California. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lush
Like the green result our hero hopes for, Boyle's descriptive writing is lush, and the humor unrelenting. Both my wife & I laughed aloud as we read this delicious book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't bogart that roach...
A previous owner of this copy of "Budding Prospects" wrote on the front page: "Beautiful writing style devoted to thoroughly immature, immoral subject matter. What could be more perfect?" I would have to agree with this sentiment. I thought this novel, Boyle's second, was extremely funny and one of his best. Very intelligent writing with some great characters and lots of humor. The story of 3 misfits trying to make a half million bucks by growing pot in the hills of Mendocino California, is not exactly what I thought it would be - it was much better. Boyle's stories never seem to disappoint.

5-0 out of 5 stars Someone Should Make a Movie
T.C. + weed + humor = incredibly well-written novel that will keep you smiling throughout. Why this isn't a movie already, I don't know.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not his best
It is good.I enjoyed the references to local places as I live in northern California.My favorite book of his remains "The Road to Wellville".

5-0 out of 5 stars "..his wild eye spun in its socket like a lacquered lemon in a slot machine."
I you like the kind of writing we get from Kinky Friedman,Hunter S Thompson,that hilariously funny novel "Confederacy of Dunces",by John Kennedy Toole or the movies of Cheech and Chong;you will find this novel will entertain you and give you lots of laughs.
I was first introduced to T.C Boyle's novels a few years ago when I visited the folks who now live in the movie theatre,now their home,that was so prominent in the novel Riven Rock. After that visit,I read that novel and enjoyed it immensely. I have not read another of TCB's novels since;but I have been picking them up and now have about a dozen on my shelf. I finally got atound to reading this one and loved it.
Doyle's writing style flows easily and you can just sit back and waltz through it without laboring over words,hidden meanings or whatever. He doesn't beat around,but simply lays it right out for your enjoyment.If you're into the style and difficulty you get with James Joyce;don't look for it here. Boyle writes with such simplicity and directness;it is surprising that he has been inflicted with a PhD in British Literature.
Though the novel is delightful fiction,I somewhat wonder if Boyle is talking of personal experiences through Felix.
A couple of other reviewers have suggested that Boyle overuses metaphors.For my part,I loved them and the more the merrier.
I don't know if this novel was ever made into a movie or not;but if it were,it would sure be entertaining. ... Read more

13. World's End
by T.Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 480 Pages (1996-09-26)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$7.09
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0747529345
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Walter Van Brunt is a dreamer, and a lover of drugs, alcohol and speed. He likes nothing better than to fly along on his motorbike, invincible and immortal. But one day, dodging a mysterious shadow on the road, he crashes into a barrier and loses his right foot. Walter is a descendant of Dutch yeomen and since the day of the accident he has been haunted by their ghosts. When he receives a new plastic foot he is determined to find his father who deserted his family years ago, and to uncover the secrets of his ancestors.Amazon.com Review
T. Coraghessan Boyle, author of Water Music, a hilariousreinvention of the exploration of the Niger, returns to his native New YorkState with this darkly comic historical drama exploring several generationsof families in the Hudson River Valley. Walter Van Brunt begins the book witha catastrophic motorcycle accident that sends him back on a historicalinvestigation, eventually encompassing the frontier struggles of the late1600s. Any book that opens with a three-page "list of principal characters"and includes chapters titled "The Last of the Kitchawanks," "The DunderbergImp," and "Hail, Arcadia!" promises a welcome tonic to the self-consciousinwardness of much contemporary fiction; World's End delivers and wasrewarded with the PEN/Faulkner Award for 1988. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Read
I thought it was a good read.Well written, with many twists and turns. Also make sure you have a dictionary with you, this book will expand your vocabulary quite a bit.

3-0 out of 5 stars Quaintly dated
That World's End is still in print bears witness to the quality of Boyle's other novels, especially The Tortilla Curtain. That said, there is much quaintness in being plunged back in the 1980s (World's End was published in 1987).

One is shocked how much literary canons have changed in so short a time. Fashion is now for stripped-down writing, dogged focus on plot, close identification with the protagonist, all of it leavened with quantities of technical information (to show the writer has done `research'). Back then was the era of John Irving, of Latin American magical realism, of Robertson Davies and his sagas. What was in vogue was writing about roots, parallel modern and historical plotlines. And this is what we have in World's End. The Van Brunts battle it with the Van Warts, in alternating chapters, in the same New England rural community, in the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. The plots are convoluted, but involve the same struggle for land among more-or-less the same families, plus the marginalized Indians. Indeed, there is a Back to the Future (to stay with the 1980s) flavour to World's End, a comical side to its double characterisation and storyline. And magic, of course, is also involved. The little narrative detours, the useless ornamentation, the baroque detail that are so passé refresh as well as irritate, they are to be savoured when they are not skipped over. World's End is too long, but it is readable if not a classic.

Finally, there is a socialist streak in Boyle. The Van Brunts bear the brunt, while the rich Van Warts have all the warts; it's that simple. The poor are oppressed but kind at heart, the rich are selfish, narrow-minded, and obsessive. Sometimes they reject their background and, by joining the oppressed, become goodies. More often they find stooges and traitors among the poor, whose only exit is in revolution. It doesn't bother me, but it does constrain the range of outcomes to the storyline.

3-0 out of 5 stars Slow and intermittently entertaining
I'm a big fan of T.C. Boyle's work.East is East and Drop City were fantastic, rich stories.Riven Rock was also really entertaining.However this book moves to slowly and is somewhat anti-climatic.It drives and drives to no specific end or point.At first I loved the idea of a multi-generational story, A long history of opposing forces, families, and cultures.However, Boyle has a tough time connecting the lives of the plethora of round characters he develops through the books 450 pages.
~Spoiler Alert~However this book's ending does offer some closure and meaning.Within it's last few pages the book's antagonist (or rather the most modern version) finally gets his heir that he'd so badly wanted. However it's not his child but rather the product of an extra-marital affair between his wife and a descendant of the Mohonks and the Van-Brunts.This gives us some feeling of a full circle because it leaves our characters(of all generations) in a very different place than they started.
Also this book is a story of dysfunctional father-son relationships.Both younger Van-Brunts resent their father's cowardly actions only to grow up and repeat the same mistakes.This like father, like son development makes a depressing statement about the reality of growing up.
All in all not a bad book, I'd suggest it if you're a big fan of Boyle's work.If you're not familiar with T.C. Boyle please do yourself a favor and read East is East and Drop City first.

3-0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile, but still not as good as his best short stories
After being dazzled by some of his short stories in the New Yorker and elsewhere, and seeing that this novel won the not-insignificant Pen/Faulkner Award, I had pretty high hopes. After finishing it, I was impressed by his vocabulary, appreciated the connection and recurrence of themes through the multi-generational plot, and heard the ring of truth in the characters as flawed as life . . . and yet somehow, after all that, I was left with the feeling that there will be many other books that I will reread before this one.

So who am I to three-star a book that won an award also given to Walker Percy, Philip Roth, Tobias Wolff, Jamaica Kincaid, Marilynne Robinson, and many other leading lights of the American literary scene? Perhaps what it comes down to is that I think the central question of this book--fate vs. free will, as expressed through one's family history--has been explored more compellingly and to my liking elsewhere (East of Eden, for example). While it may accurately reflect human nature to have many of the characters largely trapped by their heritage, I guess what this book made me realize is that I want my literature to offer me more hope thanlife does.

3-0 out of 5 stars Oh Father, Where Art Thou?
This book is an extreme rarity in that I don't have a strong feeling for it as a whole, one way or the other.Clearly, Walter's search to understand his father is the best part of the book.Unfortunately, a rather skewed atavism with historical circumstances dumped on the reader in shovelfuls comprises the greater part of this work.It seems to me that if you're going to handle atavism, you need to do it with a great deal of subtlety (Conrad, Faulkner and, especially, John Cowper Powys come to mind.)But if there's one thing not to be found here, it's subtlety.The historian in me sympathizes with Walter at the late-sixties rock concert, where, "In fact, there were few who had any grasp at all that history had preceded them." But the sort of history Boyle offers here is too gimcrack and off-the-cuff to serve as a replacement for lack of knowledge.In fact, if there is a lesson to be learnt about history here it is NOT, "Those not aware of the past are doomed to repeat it."It is rather, and emphatically, "You are doomed to repeat the past whether you are aware of it or not."Boyle and his character Walter seem confused at times as to whether they want to be history professors or hipsters or existential heroes.The end result is none of the above.There is also the quibble of sloppy writing, several instances of which I could cite, but when Boyle has Walter rise to his FEET while in Barrow, it becomes exasperating.

I fail to understand this mediocrity after Water Music, which is a great, erudite, comic novel that I wouldn't hesitate recommending to anyone.But, then, to whom is this book dedicated?"In memory of my own lost father" Seen in this light, the work becomes at least excusable, if not really understandable.I hope Boyle laid his personal demons at least partly to rest regarding his paternity with this book.He's a truly great writer.
... Read more

14. Water Music
by T.Coraghessan Boyle
 Hardcover: 192 Pages (1982-02-25)

Isbn: 0575030682
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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T.C. Boyle’s riotous first novel—now in a new edition for its 25th anniversary

Twenty five years ago, T.C. Boyle published his first novel, Water Music—a funny, bawdy, extremely entertaining novel of imaginative and stylistic fancy that announced to the world Boyle’s tremendous gifts as a storyteller. Set in the late eighteenth century, Water Music follows the wild adventures of Ned Rise, thief and whoremaster, and Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer, through London’s seamy gutters and Scotland’s scenic highlands—to their grand meeting in the heart of darkest Africa. There they join forces and wend their hilarious way to the source of the Niger. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars I am a new fan of Boyle
This was the first book I have read by T.C. Boyle but it will certainly not be the last. I would have never expected a semi-historical account of the exploration of the Niger River to be so entertaining.An excellent read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not Exactly Handel...
A note to the putative reader who is not already enraptured by Boyle and his writings (as many of the reviewers here are), it's going to take a bit of getting used to, to put it mildly.Boyle comes at you full throttle from the first chapter with his, at first, somewhat, disorienting take on Mungo Park and his journeys.What may hold you back from continuing with the book is its nonpareil emetic effect.As other reviewers have asserted you will need an unabridged dictionary of the normal sort, but also, it wouldn't hurt you to have a medical dictionary as well to cover all the diseases, infestations, degenerations, suppurations etc. to which our mortal coils are heir, not only the diseases that might afflict one in the African wasteland, but (perhaps) even more so, in Eighteenth Century London itself, where the streets reeked of excrement.You may be tempted by this onrush of man's inhumanity to man topped off my other critters' inhumanity to him (It is no accident that Boyle begins the book with a quote from Burns' "To A Louse".) to give up on the book in disgust, as I very nearly did.This would be a very serious mistake, gentle reader, because somewhere along the way, I'm not exactly sure where it happened for me, the book becomes VERY, VERY funny. You begin to notice how the chapter headings resemble titles or lines from your favourite books or poems.It is no mere sop to the book's title to say that you actually begin to FLOW along with the ribaldry, bawdiness, humanity, inhumanity and literary retakes - I, purposefully, do not call them send-ups because I don't think that's what Boyle's about here - of your favourite works.Rather, these constitute a rethinking of what your favourite works perhaps left out, in a very comic mode, yes, but also, it will strike you, in a very realistic manner as well.All this you will see typified toward the end of the book in Park's absurdly whitewashed account of what you know all too well to be a perfectly mad, afflicted, disease and disaster ridden affair.I think I knew I was immune to the gruesomeness of the book and more in key with its music, so to speak, when I merely chuckled when one of the explorers on the second voyage went mad and tore off the end of a four foot parasitic worm nestled in a vein of his leg, which he very well knew would kill said worm, causing gangrene and death.His body is unceremoniously dumped over the boat shortly thereafter.

No doubt, ahem, deeper things are at play here.But I'm not writing a dissertation.Water Music is fun, fluent, fissiparous. I'll just quote here from one of the more reflective passages:

"A year is nothing: a feather in the breeze, a breath of air.Turn around and it's gone. Ice, bud, leaf, twig.Geese on the pond, stubble in the field.Three hundred sixty-five mornings, three hundred sixty-five nights.Minor lacerations, a sprained ankle, runny nose, the death of a distant relative.There's a squirrel in the attic, a tree down in a storm.The clock in the hallway cranks round seven hundred and thirty times.Windows are raised, shades drawn, dishes, cups and spoons dirtied and scrubbed, dirtied and scrubbed.Thunder hits the hills like a mallet, snow climbs the fenceposts, sunlight burnishes the windows like copper. A year. One of how many: fifty? Sixty? The days chew away at it, insidious." P.187

So please read this book before the days gnaw you down.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book rocks!
I think it may be the best of all Boyle's books.It's a little long, but (with the exception of a few unneccesary detours) it definitely holds your interest from beginning to end.Few authors have the talent to mix comedy and tragedy like T.C. Boyle, and "Water Music" is Exhibit A.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sing me a river...
Water Music by TC Boyle is about the songs of life. There are several melodious ways to get through life; rise above your less than ideal beginnings, navigate unknown territory, or spend your whole life waiting. Boyle brilliantly succeeds in portraying these lifestyles with his main characters and does it in a way that is darkly humorous and never dull. The reader will snigger their way through this uniquely creative tale.Outstanding!

5-0 out of 5 stars best work (along with World's End)
I've read all the novels he's written.I fell in love with this one right away, and ended up re-reading it at least three times that I remember.It's just a pleasure to read.It is a kind of very sophisticated literary candy; I think that World's End is probably a better overall book but Water Music is just fun.

That said, a warning:anything after World's End is bound to be a disappointment after these two gems.He's mastered a cynical tone that just doesn't sound real.I found the other books tough to read b/c I wasn't "living" the story, but rather found myself outside looking in.

Why have I read all the novels?I keep hoping that something will approach the quality of the first two.Riven ROck comes the closest (though still far away) IMO, though this could use a heavy-handed editor. ... Read more

15. Without a Hero: Stories
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 238 Pages (1995-05-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$0.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140178392
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The fourth, critically praised collection of short stories by the author of The Road to Wellville brings together fifteen darkly comic tales about human frailty, including the title story about an ill-fated romance. Reprint. NYT. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Bad
This book was written after its writer, Thomas John Boyle, became T. Coraghessan Boyle, but before he morphed into merely T.C. Boyle. Some online sites suggest that Coraghessan was a middle name made up because it was `sexier' than mere John, or T.J., while others claim it as his second middle name from birth. I don't know which is true, but the first option seems far more in line with the egoistic ravings of this man, not to mention the self-consciously bad boy poses he strikes in the photos of himself. Regardless of his ultimate poseur nature, however, Boyle is a bad writer- very bad.

That said, he is not bad in the way writers such as Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, or Rick Moody are, even though that is what I expected from others' claims, and the fact that he has blurbed for these writers before. Whereas they are relentlessly hipster, and spew formless rants with pop cultural allusions that are void of character development and narrative arc, Boyle is, well, there's no easy way to say this, but mind-numbingly conventional. Yes, he's bad, and mostly because he's dull, dull, dull. But, unlike the others he has shown he can, at least, control a narrative line. What he lacks, if this book is used as evidence, is any sense of anything to tell. A back cover blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle declares Boyle's `inexhaustible curiosity and his willingness to try anything once are here in abundance.' By this I can only discern the blurbist meant that he starts out with odd premises. This is true. But, Boyle does absolutely nothing with those premises, and simply having weird occurrences pop up does not make a thing funny, merely odd, and if disconnected to the narrative start and trope, very contrived. But, again, at least it is a narrative. His characters, however, are all cardboard cutouts. Not the sort that are facile flicks of the wrist, as in the deadly trio's, but truly cardboard characters, whose minutia are dully explored for pages before Boyle decides that something weird, and what he deems `wonderful', will happen.

I tend to view Boyle, who's from the generation before the noxious threesome, as an intermediate form of the devolution of bad writing that resulted in the preening tercet. He is so dull, and straightforward, as well unadventurous that I was astonished. Worst of all, he indulges unredeemed clichés to an extent that may even surpass the others....There simply is little worse than a claimed humorist who lacks humor, yet this is Boyle. His satire, such as it is, is slight, forced, and dull- all the things satire should never be to be successful. Yet, he is worse, for he lacks the discipline to even purge his dull A to B to C work of clichés. And he has a need to excessively describe things, rather than let simplicity, or a savvy reader, discern an emotion. Too many of his sentences have pedestrian details, or unnecessary metaphors or modifiers, such as this typical example from the titular tale (page 76): `I couldn't have been more stunned if she'd asked me who played third base for the Dodgers. `What?'' This comes out of nowhere, and does not reflect the character's established speaking patterns- it is simply the intrusion of an insecure writer feeling a need to force description and/or poesy into a tale. This results in Boyle's tales being much longer than they should be. He has no sense of concision, in his writing- something that a poet almost must have to succeed. No, I take that back- he did cut his own name down. Perhaps, for his next book he'll simply be TCB, although I hope he'll finally, artistically, take that acronym `to heart'. Shiver.

5-0 out of 5 stars HE'S A WHIZ WITH A NARRATIVE !

In this, his ninth book and fourth collection of stories, T. Coraghessan Boyle is as satiric, offbeat, and laconic as ever.A whiz with a narrative, his stories are so well honed that there does not seem to be an extraneous syllable.

True to form, the author tackles improbable subjects and fleshes them out with bigger than life characters in unlikely situations.

A bored adman is spending his 30th birthday on a windy beach with only "a comforting apocalyptic tract about the demise of the planet" for company.There he meets Alena Jorgensen, a beautiful animal rights activist.He falls in love with her and placates her by eating unappetizing breakfasts, "...brewer's yeast and what appeared to be some sort of bark marinated in yogurt."He even joins in a Beverly Hills anti-fur march, challenging "A wizened silvery old woman who might have been an aging star or a star's mother," and is flattened by the woman's kickboxing chauffeur.

One would be hard pressed to select a favorite among the 16 sketches included in this collection."Filthy With Things" is a mirror held to the face of greed, as a couple whose home is bulging with their possessions seeks the help of professional organizers to ease them into a "nonacquisative environment."

In "Big Game," Bernard Puff operates a big game preserve located just outside of Bakersfield, California.There, for a price, guests can shoot anything. Puff affects a phony British accent, and drinks quinine water although nary a malarial mosquito has been spotted.

"Without A Hero" speaks with an unconventional voice but, oh, how refreshing to hear it.

- Gail Cooke

5-0 out of 5 stars Filthy With Fun
WITHOUT A HERO is a terrific collection of short stories by a highly inventive author.I recently enjoyed his novel INNER CIRCLE, and previously had noticed his imaginative, satirical stories in the pages of The New Yorker.Quite simply, T.C. Boyle is fun to read.

Short stories showcase Boyle's creativity and wit.Here we enjoy tales about over-monied California real estate moguls trophy hunting outside Bakersfield ("Big Game"); the astonomer and his collectibles-crazy wife who undergo reprogramming at the hands of a professional clutter organizer ("Filthy With Things"); the remarried, aged husband doting on his ridiculously demanding wife and his unpredictable reaction to her well-being in a hurricane ("Act of God"); the mud-splattered and half-crippled, never-say-die right guard for the Caledonia College football team ("56-0"); the beatnik who has hitchhiked across the US for a night of carousing with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs ("Beat"); and the young Irish-American boy sucking in both the carcinogenic fumes of bug-spray and prejudice ("The Fog Man"). The thriller of the bunch is the closer.In "Sitting on Top of the World" sexy ranger Elaine guards the forest from fire, splendidly isolated for days in the mountaintop station, enjoying her solitude. Until a stranger comes knocking....

5-0 out of 5 stars Irony, Black Humor, and Satire pervade
I must confess that I feel guilty even writing a reveiw, let along giving 5 stars, for a book that I haven't read all of.I was only assigned six of the short stories in the book for my Satire class...and though I suppose I could have read more, I did not.However, that does not change the fact that the 6 stories I read were all brilliant in their own right.
BIG GAME- Trying to import African into Southern California, Bernard Puff learns too late the danger of trying to import one reality into another.
TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN- DDT leads to devastation of Borneo...but wickedly funny and ironic, "Every cloud has a silver lining"
56-0- Ray Aurther Larry-Pete Fontinot tries one last time to taste glory in football.Far far far from Rudy.
FILTHY WITH THINGS- Materialism has a hold on Julian...but the remedy may prove worse than the disease.Twilight Zone-esque, and I mean that as the highest of compliments.
BEAT- Buzz's hero and the Beat culture are not as glamourous as they seem
THE FOGMAN- Rasicm at its most heartbreaking...and the moral: nothing changes.
Even if all the other stories in this book are completely horrid and abominations to the English language, you should still pick up a copy of T. Coraghesson (what a helluva name) Boyle's book even if only to read these stories.

4-0 out of 5 stars Bright spots galore in this story collection
If I were the author of The Road To Wellville, I don't think I'd printthat on my books. I think I'd just coast on having a wonderful name like"Coraghessan" to throw around. In any case, 56-0 was sort ofheartbreaking, and Top of the Food Chain barreled down a road I'd alwayswondered about, and Big Game I really liked, for being about Hemingway alittle, and Filthy With Things scared the living daylights out of me,reminding me more than a little of the Stephen King story Quitters, Inc. ... Read more

16. A Friend Of The Earth
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Audio Cassette: Pages (2000-08-18)
list price: US$72.00 -- used & new: US$72.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0736655808
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A FRIEND OF THE EARTH opens in the year 2025, as Tyrone O'Shaughnessy Tidewater ekes out a bleak living in southern California, managing a rock star's private menagerie.Global warming is a reality.The biosphere has collapsed and most of the major mammalian species are extinct.Once Ty was so seriously committed to environmental causes that he became an ecoterrorist and convicted felon.Once he unwittingly endangered both his daughter, Sierra, and his wife, Andrea.Now when he's just trying to survive, Andrea comes back into his life. What happens as the two slip into a reborn involvement makes for a gripping and topical story told in Boyle's uniquely funny and serious voice.

"America's most imaginative contemporary novelist blends idealism and satire in a story that addresses the ultimate question of human love and the survival of the species."(Newsweek)Amazon.com Review
If, as we are frequently cautioned, ecological collapse is imminent, the future might someday resemble T.C. 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 recognized 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 ... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars Reboot your brain and take this journey
There is a story behind why I chose to review A Friend of the Earth.In 2001, I bought the novel and could not get past the first few pages.I tried again and again.No go.So I dropped it in a box to be forgotten but not trashed.Roughly a year later I was rummaging around for a book to read and pulled it out.What the hell, I thought. I'll give it another try.The planets had aligned, apparently (or more likely this time I was mentally receptive) and, as with all his previous books, I immediately fell in love with his writing and the journey.His imagination is wild, his wit caustic, and he knows how to mess with your mind to provoke laughter and thought in a neuron-explosive way.And I mean that in a good way, even when the subject matter is bleak, as with this apocalyptic romp.Also, this novel has a great closing line.My point is this: Art is subjective, true, but sometimes when your mind tunes into the right frequency you hear the music and not static.T.C.B. is - among the living or dead - one of our greatest writers.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and Wholesome
This was my first T. C. Boyle read, and I found it interesting enough. His style of writing is surprisingly consistent and doesn't feel redundant, while making the main character, Ty, and his thoughts well rounded and to the point. Personally, at first I had a problem reading it because the style is hard to read; I would read something, and then realize I had absolutely no idea what just happened because something is all of a sudden happening but there is only vague transition into the new idea or situation. This style is good because it projects the way the mind can often take in and express information, but I lose interest because I don't feel like I can fully input myself into the story.

T. C. Boyle is undoubtedly a very intelligent man with countless great ideas and a mind sharp enough to be able to web these ideas together. He does his homework and researches things to the extent of his potential. I watched an interview of Boyle where he said something on the lines of "If I want to get to know something, I write a book about it." This book is an excellent example of that statement because it's not a novel that could be comprehensively and realistically written without a great deal of knowledge of the environment and multiple aspects of nature, not to mention people.

Boyle's ability to make a realistic and relatable character is almost overwhelming. Many novels have characters that are created by their past, but Ty Tierwater in A Friend Of The Earth is rounded, made jagged, rounded again, and made all swirly afterwards by Boyle's style of enhancing character traits with the pent up emotion that makes a fool a fool, and the logic that makes characters like Andrea able to regard his foolishness with wisdom and sympathy.

All-over, I feel that it is a novel that should be read by any who consider it, and by all who care about the environment. I doubt the relative timeframe of this novel's catastrophic events, but I have no doubt that if people don't stop damaging the Earth, we could unmistakably be in serious trouble, as this novel portrays.

2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting story, but sloppy writing
I've never read anything by TC Boyle before this book, so I can't compare this book with his previous works. However, I don't think you have to be familiar with his work to know that his writing seemed sloppy and rushed in "A Friend of the Earth." Boyle's writing style is flowery and verbose, and I think he should spend more of that energy on developing more of the characters and tidying up his storylines. None of these characters seemed worth caring about because they are so flat. I barely cared about the protagonist. I will say that I enjoyed reading about what Southern CA is like in the year 2025, and all of the descriptions of climate changes, erosion, and extinct animals. His blaring cynicism is humorous, but it's not enough to make me recommend this book as a good read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Recommended
Though it wasn't quite the thorough post-apocalyptic story that I was hoping for when I bought it, I found this to be a well-written and entertaining read. Yes, it's a little depressing, but that was expected. I enjoyed Boyle's writing style and was easily immersed in the story, setting and character's lives.

5-0 out of 5 stars Does the earth need a friend
I am a huge fan of TC Boyle's novels and A Friend of the Earth does not disappoint. I laughed out loud as I read, which is one of the draws for me to his work, it is so darn hilarious.It is also thought provoking but not the way I thought it would be...I found irony in the age old man vs nature struggle and discovered that I realize nature ALWAYS wins. We are doomed in many ways but what we do have is something nature can not take away...love.

17. East Is East
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
 Audio Cassette: Pages (1990-09)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$39.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559942703
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A young Japanese seaman jumps ship off the coast of Georgia and washes ashore on a barrier island inhabited by a strange mix of rednecks, descendents of slaves, genteel retired people, and a colony of artists. The result is a sexy, savagely hilarious tragicomedy of thwarted expectations, mistaken identity, love, jealousy and betrayal. "An absolutely stunning work, full of brilliant cross-cultural insights."--The New York Times Book Review. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars affecting blend of humor and pathos
One of Boyle's most accessible novels, this one sort of took me by surprise.Though much of the narrative is focused on creating a detailed (and probably quite accurate) parody of life at a literary retreat, the underlying story of a man stranded far from home grows increasingly poignant.Boyle manages to articulate a range of emotions all the way to the genuinely moving climax.Not as powerful or cohesive as some other Boyle novels like Drop City, but well worth a read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Take important considerations lightly...Small matters should be taken seriously"
Hiro Tanaka, a twenty-year-old devotee ofYukio Mishima and Jocho, thinks of himself as a samurai, even though he is half American.Anxious to leave Japan to discover his unknown father, he takes a job in the kitchen of a Japanese freighter, where he has to defend himself against racial slurs during his trip to the U.S.Jumping overboard to escape, he swims ashore to swampy Tupelo Island, off the coast of Georgia, hoping eventually to make his way to the City of Brotherly Love.

Tupelo is the site of Thanatopsis, an artists' colony similar to the McDowell Colony, and Ruth Dershowitz, a writer in residence there, refuses to believe the stories circulated by the ship and by INS that Hiro is a dangerous criminal and potential murderer.When she discovers him, she begins feeding him and protecting him against the yahoos who are trying to apprehend him.

Boyle uses this absurd scenario to create farce-like humor, satirizing the characters' inherent prejudices and their unrealistic goals and expectations.Hiro must protect himself against INS, a trigger-happy lunatic assisting INS, a posse of rednecks engaged in the chase, and even some of the residents of Thantopsis, the name of which is a black-humored reference to the Greek word for "death."Ruth, who is having an affair with the wealthy son of the founder of Thanatopsis, sees Hiro as the possible subject for a story, and she is outraged when a movie star-like writer, who once studied with her, arrives to steal Ruth's thunder by flirting with the men, giving a reading that the residents love, and sneering at Ruth.

Boyle's dark humor is delicious, and his pointed satire of the writers' colony, in particular, is priceless--the egos, the homage expected by established writers, the ceremony of the readings, the ritual of "silent table" vs. the "convivial table" at breakfast, the esoteric nature of some of the research subjects, and even the goofing off by the "artists."Hiro's only exposure to American society--the residents of Thanatopsis, the wealthy benefactors who have built compounds on the island, the impoverished rednecks and blacks who live off the land, and the INS and police officers who chase and arrest him--is obviously skewed, and his miscommunications and misunderstandings, even with Ruth, are both poignant and hilarious.

Filled with unexpected plot twists, brilliant and unique imagery, and ironies which evolve from the conflict between romantic dreams and sometimes harsh reality, the novel looks sharply at the characters' lives and inherent values and offers a sardonic wink. nMary Whipple

4-0 out of 5 stars A cross-cultural farce
What happens when a would-be samurai jumps ship and finds himself stranded on an isolated island off the coast of Georgia?In the hands of T.C. Boyle, this scenario leads to a steady stream of mayhem, and an amusing romp that explores the challenges created by cross-cultural misunderstandings.Virtually every character in this story has preconceptions that color their responses to the situation, often with tragic consequences.

Hiro Tanaka, the wayward sailor, is running from his past, hoping to reach an almost mythical "City of Brotherly Love" where he will finally find his place in the world.Following the advice of Mishima, he charges ahead, without any regard to the consequences.Unfortunately, this path only serves to further complicate his troubles.

Ruth Dershowitz is struggling author, living in an artist colony on the island, and desparate to establish herself as a writer.Self-absorbed and insecure, she tries to find validation in the social order at the colony.When Hiro stumbles into her life, she find both inspiration and trouble.How she copes with both will define her future.

With its complex story and shifting points-of-view, this book provides an entertaining read.While in hindsight the ending seems wholly appropriate and fitting, it still manages to remain a surprise.

3-0 out of 5 stars East is East a wild romp
Short story virtuoso TC Boyle weaves a wild tale about Hiro Tanaka, a half-Japanese half-American sailor who jumps ship from a Japanese freighter and makes it barely alive onto the Georgia coast. Fleeing the racism and time in the ship's brig off Japan, Tanaka arrives on a swampy island inhabited by the descendants of slaves, lower class whites, and the self-obsessed denizens of an artist colony.

What ensues is at times hysterical: mistaken identity, self-delusion, pride, jealousy, hyperbole, and deceit. Tanaka, whose hippy mother became pregnant from a relationship with an American "barbarian", is taunted mercilessly as a "gaijin", though he was born and raised in Japan. He dreams of a place of half-castes and mixed-bloods, where he won't stand out. What he finds in America is misunderstanding and betrayal.

1-0 out of 5 stars Unfunny Cartoon
Has American literature really come to this?T.C. Boyle thinks that he is a latter day Swift.No way.He has merely created an unfunny cartoon. ... Read more

18. The Tortilla Curtain - Textheft
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 356 Pages (2004-12-31)

Isbn: 346431071X
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars the tortilla curtain
The book (used) was in horrible condition making reading the book uncomfortable.I struggle through this because it is a book club discussion in May.I haven't read T.C. Boylebefore and this will be the last.Sorry Amazon, I won't be using your used book store again.J. Bevan ... Read more

19. She Wasn't Soft (Bloomsbury Birthday Quids)
by T.Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 64 Pages (1996-09-19)
-- used & new: US$1.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074752890X
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The "Bloomsbury Birthday Quids" are small editions of short stories by major writers, in a format and style of the "Bloomsbury Classics". Printed on high-quality paper, designed by Jeff Fisher, the books should become collectors' items. This title is "She Wasn't Soft" by T. Coraghessan-Boyle. ... Read more

20. Without a Hero
by T.Coraghessan Boyle
Paperback: 256 Pages (1998-02-19)
list price: US$14.45 -- used & new: US$12.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1862071535
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A collection of 15 short stories. Meet Bernard Puff, proprietor of an all-American dude safari ranch just outside Bakersfield, California, where you can shoot big-game without the inconvenience of travelling to Africa. Or Susan Certaine, a professional organizer and acquisitive disorders therapist. ... Read more

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