Night & Day Archives » Night & Day

Boyle 'N' Water

Lauded writer T.C. Boyle visits Left Bank Books

by

comment
The first short story in T.C. Boyle's new collection, Tooth and Claw: Stories, is called "When I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone." Subsequent stories, with titles such as "Swept Away," "All the Wrecks I've Crawled Out Of" and "The Doubtfulness of Water," might lead one to believe that Boyle is writing in response to the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina. But fortunately Boyle is not a prophet, simply a weirdly prolific guy in Southern California, writing about the postmodern malaise of everyday life.

Tooth and Claw is Boyle's seventeenth book; his gift for short fiction shot him to fame with 1985's Greasy Lake and is still evident, despite the greater popularity of his novels. If there is a place where Boyle succeeds artistically, it is within the tightly controlled drama of the short story, and he has not done so without recognition. The stories in Tooth and Claw have all been published before, in places like GQ, Harper's, The New Yorker and the O. Henry Prize Stories. Most are several years old, but that does not diminish their relevance to recent events. Boyle's characters swim rather hopelessly through a world of whiskey and water, where the facts of everyday life look like wreckage and feel like a hangover (a semi-permanent condition for some of Boyle's characters, it seems).

Discussing the Katrina aftermath on his Web site, www.tcboyle.com, Boyle remarks that the story he feels resonates most with the disaster "is 'Chicxulub,' in which the universe turns its indifferent face to us." This is the essence of Tooth and Claw, a collection designed for those of us making our way through the world in just that manner.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.