Wild Child

We meet quite a few drinkers in T. C. Boyle’s new story collection Wild Child.  One bar, for example, at 8am shelters “…congenital losers and pinch-faced retirees hunched over a double vodka as if it was going to give them back the key to their personalities….”  In another dive, “All you see, really, beyond the shifting colors of the TV, is the soft backlit glow of the bottles on display behind the bar dissolving into a hundred soothing glints of gold and copper.”    In yet another, “The door swung in on a denseness of purpose, eight or nine losers lined up on their barstools, the smell of cut lime and the sunshine of the run, a straight shot of Lysol from the toilet in back.”  Elsewhere, a knowing twelve year-old observes her father “sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter, sipping something out of a mug, not coffee, definitely not coffee.”


In the best of these fourteen stories, Boyle captures individuals as they straddle the gap between despair and escape:  the drunken, philandering father in “Balto;” the trapped new father in “The Lie;” the unhinged widower in “Thirteen Hundred Rats;” the woman enthralled by her plastic surgeon in “Hands On;” the woman who spends her days dog-sitting a cloned puppy in “Admiral.”  Comedy, often dazzlingly satirical, relieves the despair (few writers can make us both smile and squirm as Boyle does) while complacency is mercilessly skewered.   Whether the setting is affluent California, outlaw Venezuela or 19th-century France, each drama here is beautifully distilled to reveal the emotional truth at its core.                      

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).