four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
46-May-June-2010
By: 
T. C. Boyle
user_rating: 
0

and Other Stories

A-Wild ChildT. C. Boyle is the award-winning author of The Women, Drop City, and many other novels and short story collections. A Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California, Boyle's stories have also appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, and GQ.

The Story: Boyle tackles the uneasy balance between man and beast in his ninth story collection. In "The Unlucky Mother of Aquiles Maldonado," a band of guerrillas kidnaps a professional ballplayer's mother. In "La Conchita," a mudslide on a California freeway traps a courier attempting to deliver a life-saving organ. In "Balto," a teen must lie under oath to save her father. A suburban woman comes face-to-face with an escaped tiger in "Question 62." And in his novella, The Wild Child, Boyle offers a fictional account of Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron, who was discovered roaming the woods in 18th-century France.
Viking. 304 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9780670021420

Chicago Tribune 4.5 of 5 Stars
"This latest collection from Boyle, with more than a dozen stories and the title novella, show off the brilliance of his talent and his imaginative approach to the varied layers and levels of the contemporary American experience, in all of its ups and downs, etched in a style that sentence by sentence captures the often ridiculous, sometimes poignant, always fascinating fragments of the way we live now." Alan Cheuse

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Of course, there will be some who find Boyle's palette garish, his characters cartoonish, his narrative fireworks mere antics of a strutting virtuoso. But Boyle is the closest thing we have to a modern-day Washington Irving, that American storyteller par excellence who found a perfect balance between art and pop." Mark Rozzo

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"Sometimes triumphant, more often sad, [the stories are] as real as the memories of old acquaintances whose lives continue, somewhere, whether we know it or not." Buzzy Jackson

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"He's proved, over the course of his career, to be not only a prolific writer but also an ingenious sociologist. ... Despite a misstep near the end of the book, especially the inclusion and placement of the story ‘Three Quarters of the Way to Hell,' a corny tale with a great title, Boyle's dominant focus with this collection is on the delicate balance between nature and civilization. " Don Waters

NY Times Book Review 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Disappointingly, Boyle snips these strong beginnings with curt, haphazard conclusions that fail to reach for the emotional or satirical heights Boyle hits in his best work. In most of these stories, Boyle seems interested in doing little more than hammering together a setup, sporting with it for a page or two, then pinching things off before his characters can spit the bits from their mouths and take things in directions of their own uncalculated choosing." Wells Tower

Critical Summary

Boyle has created another successful collection of stories, with its unapologetic exaggeration, vivid settings, and gloomy but likable protagonists. Although Boyle operates under a singular theme--ordinary people succumbing to their baser instincts--critics were greatly impressed with his ability to craft 14 distinct story lines. The Los Angeles Times reviewer likened Boyle to his feral character Victor, calling him "that literary wild child whose flights of narrative fancy refuse to be domesticated." And while the New York Times critic felt the shorter stories were contrived and incomplete, the majority agreed that Wild Child is a refreshing, bold, and marvelous new collection.