Monday, September 30, 2013

T.C. Boyle Stories II

T.C. Boyle Stories II: The Collected Stories of T. Coraghessan Boyle, Volume II
Viking; 10/3/2013
Hardcover,  944 pages

ISBN-13: 9780670026258

A second volume of short fiction—featuring fourteen uncollected stories—from the bestselling author and master of the form
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T.C. Boyle Stories II gathers the work from his three most recent collections along with fourteen new tales previously unpublished in book form as well as a preface in which Boyle looks back on his career as a writer of stories and the art of making them.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.
My Thoughts:

T.C. Boyle Stories II: The Collected Stories of T. Coraghessan Boyle, Volume II  contains fifty eight stories by Boyle written since his first collection of short stories was published in 1998. Boyle is a amazing, intelligent literary fiction writer who has a remarkable gift of story-telling. As much as he is known for his novels, Boyle is a master of the short story. He can establish the characters and setting, entangle you in the drama, toy with your emotions, and make it seem effortless. The preface is a detailed review of Boyle's life as a writer to date, where he's been, what has led him to this point, and his theories about writing. It is certainly not to be skipped over on your way to the stories.

But I must acknowledge that while the preface is quite interesting, Boyle's stories are the shining stars, especially since many of the stories included in this massive collection have already won honors and acclaim. It's wonderful to have them all gathered in one collection. Stories II includes stories from Boyle's last three collections plus fourteen new stories not previously found in any collection, so, as it has been noted, it is the equivalent of four smaller books. It also needs to be noted that Boyle is including everything from the last fifteen years, so this is not a best of or a selection of hand-picked award winners.
Contents include:

I. After the Plague: Termination Dust; She Wasn’t Soft; Killing Babies; Captured by the Indians; *Achates McNeil; The Love of My Life; *Rust; *Peep Hall; Going Down; Friendly Skies; *The Black and White Sisters; Death of the Cool; *My Widow; The Underground Gardens; *After the Plague.

II. Tooth and Claw: When I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone;* Swept Away; Dogology; The Kind Assassin; *The Swift Passage of the Animals; *Jubilation; *Rastrow’s Island;  *Chicxulub; Here Comes; All the Wrecks; I’ve Crawled Out Of; Blinded by the Light; *Tooth and Claw; Almost Shooting an Elephant; The Doubtfulness of Water: Madam Knight’s Journey to New York, 1702; Up Against the Wall;

III. Wild Child: *Balto; La Conchita; *Question 62; *Sin Dolor; Bulletproof; *Hands On; *The Lie; The Unlucky Mother of Aquiles Maldonado; Admiral; Ash Monday; Thirteen Hundred Rats; Anacapa; *Three Quarters of the Way to Hell; *Wild Child;

IV. A Death in Kitchawank: *My Pain Is Worse Than Your Pain; The Silence; A Death in Kitchawank; *What Separates Us from the Animals; *Good Home; *In the Zone; Los Gigantes; *The Way You Look Tonight; *The Night of the Satellite; *Search and Rescue; *Sic Transit; Burning Bright; The Marlbane Manchester Musser Award; Birnam Wood

I've put an asterisk in front of the titles of the stories that I especially enjoyed, although that doesn't mean that the others aren't as good. This is an expansive collection full of stories that warrant reading and re-reading. I have a feeling that I'll be re-visiting this collection simply to slowly savor many of these stories again and again. Admittedly there is one story that I likely won't re-read because I can't get it out of my head. All I'll say is that it has a dog in it and it makes me weepy and angry.

Very Highly Recommended - this is a must have collection due to be released on October 3, 2013.

... after the plague—it was some sort of Ebola mutation passed from hand to hand and nose to nose like the common cold—life was different. More relaxed and expansive, more natural. The rat race was over, the freeways were clear all the way to Sacramento, and the poor dwindling ravaged planet was suddenly big and mysterious again. It was a kind of miracle really, what the environmentalists had been hoping for all along, though of course even the most strident of them wouldn’t have wished for his own personal extinction, but there it was. (Location 3916-3920)


Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Viking via Netgalley for review purposes.

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