three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
By: 
T. C. Boyle
user_rating: 
0

A-Talk TalkWhen deaf schoolteacher Dana Halter, 33, gets pulled over for running a stoplight, her troubles are just beginning. A routine police check pulls up multiple felony charges that she couldn’t possibly have committed. Next stop: jail. Now, with a newfound appreciation for identity theft, Dana and her earnest boyfriend set out to clear her name. The tale alternates between Dana’s madcap chase and the Armani-wearing, Russian-model-loving lifestyle of the other Dana Halter, aka Peck Wilson, a man who finds it all too easy to reinvent himself.
Viking. 340 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0670037702

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Talk Talk stands out as nothing short of an uncomfortable masterpiece—as simultaneously overwhelming, treacherous, beautiful and boiling over with hellacious revelation as its ultimate subject: life in 21st century America." Jerry Stahl

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Talk Talk benefits from Boyle’s highbrow/lowbrow style: He knows how to drill down through the surface of everyday life into our core anxieties, and he knows how to write constantly charging, heart-thumping chase scenes." Ron Charles

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The great achievement of Talk Talk is the way this novel brings us into the moment-by-moment experience of its profoundly deaf central character. … Without overplaying the deaf experience, he manages to seamlessly integrate it into the formula of ever-increasing tension." Damian Kilby

Rocky Mountain News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Although it’s difficult to put Talk Talk down once the chase begins, few readers will be able to make it past the first chapters without frantically heading to the Internet to look up how to obtain their annual credit reports." Jenny Shank

New York Times 2 of 5 Stars
"[Talk Talk is a] propulsive but ultimately disappointing new novel. … Whereas some of the author’s earlier stories have substituted comic pratfalls for felt emotion, he manages here to mix clever narrative pyrotechnics with real character development." Michiko Kakutani

Critical Summary

In his 18th book of fiction, T. C. Boyle wildly impresses some critics (as he often does) but leaves a few critics wanting more. The slick, page-turning plot becomes "sadly undermined by a forced, slap-dash ending that feels as if it had been grafted on at the last minute" (New York Times). That aside, Boyle’s first entry in the suspense genre is a welcome addition that showcases his rich characterizations and high-flying prose. In Talk Talk, the ease of assuming a new identity appears frighteningly simple, while the annoyances of life for the hearing-impaired ring loud and clear.