T.C. Boyle Stories II: The Collected Stories of T. Coraghessan Boyle, Volume II
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A second volume of collected short fiction from the bestselling author and winner of the 2015 Rea Award for the Short Story
Few authors write with such sheer love of story and language as T.C. Boyle, and that is nowhere more evident than in his inventive, wickedly funny, and always entertaining short stories. In 1998, T.C. Boyle Stories brought together the author’s first four collections to critical acclaim. Now, T.C. Boyle Stories II gathers the work from his three most recent collections along with fourteen new tales previously unpublished in book form as well as a preface in which Boyle looks back on his career as a writer of stories and the art of making them.
By turns mythic and realistic, farcical and tragic, ironic and moving, Boyle’s stories have mapped a wide range of human emotions. The fifty-eight stories in this new volume, written over the last eighteen years, reflect his maturing themes. Along with the satires and tall tales that established his reputation, readers will find stories speaking to contemporary social issues, from air rage to abortion doctors, and character-driven tales of quiet power and passion. Others capture timeless themes, from first love and its consequences to confrontations with mortality, or explore the conflict between civilization and wildness. The new stories find Boyle engagingly testing his characters’ emotional and physical endurance, whether it’s a group of giants being bred as weapons of war in a fictional Latin American country, a Russian woman who ignores dire warnings in returning to her radiation-contaminated home, a hermetic writer who gets more than a break in his routine when he travels to receive a minor award, or a man in a California mountain town who goes a little too far in his concern for a widow.
Mordant wit, emotional power, exquisite prose: it is all here in abundance. T.C. Boyle Stories II is a grand career statement from a writer whose imagination knows no bounds.
uncle’s mercy in that cramped walkup over the drugstore. Didn’t she complain about it all the time? If only she knew, if only she’d give him a chance and descend just once into the cool of the earth, he was sure she’d change her mind, she had to. There was a problem, though. An insurmountable problem. She wouldn’t see him. He came into the drugstore, hoping to make it all up to her, to convince her that he was the one, the only one, and she backed away from the counter, exchanged a word with
“No, I don’t think so.” She gave him a look then—the dark slits of her glasses, the pursed lips—but all she said was, “We could use the carpet. I mean, look”—and she was reaching in, experimentally lifting the fitted square of it from the mottled steel beneath. The car was two years old and he was making monthly payments on it. It was the first car he’d ever bought new in his life and he’d picked it out over Christine’s objections. He liked the sportiness of it, the power—he could blow by
tendency to over-pronounce the consonants till you felt as if he were battering both sides of your head with a wet root. He was dressed in a fashion I can only call bizarre, all cultural differences aside, his hands gloved, his frame draped in an ankle-length London Fog trenchcoat and his disproportionately small head dwarfed by a pair of wraparound sunglasses and a deerstalker cap. His nose, cheeks and hard horny chin were nearly fluorescent with what I later learned was sunblock, applied in
of the corner of my eye, and there he was. Ungainly as a carrion bird, the coat ends tenting round him in the wind, he was bent over one of the hogs, peering into the cramped universe of its malicious little eyes as if he could see all the evil of the world at work there. I confronted him with a shout and he looked up from beneath the brim of his hat and the fastness of his wraparound glasses, but he didn’t flinch, even as I closed the ground between us with the pistol held out before me like
the company of this senior who played keyboards in one of the local bands, and I felt something, I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t jealousy. And then, at the end of a lonely semester in a lonely town in the lonely hind end of nowhere, the air began to soften and a few blades of yellow grass poked up through the rotting snow and my roommate took me downtown to Brewskies to celebrate. The girl’s name was Marlene, but she didn’t pronounce it like the old German actress who was probably