So far I've only read one book by T. C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain. I found it a very engaging read - he has quite the knack for writing narrative that gives you the distinct feeling you are in that person's head, seeing things as that person sees them. I ordered a couple other books from the trusty Paperback book swap website and put them into the "to read" pile. (if you wonder how big my "to read pile is I suggest you take a look at this amusing video my husband made). I saw in an email from the local library that Mr. Boyle (or I guess it's really Dr. Boyle since he does have a PhD in Nineteenth Century British Literature from the University of Iowa) was coming to Denver for a discussion and book signing so I signed up. Listening to authors talk about their work is often inspiring to me even though I doubt I'll ever write the great American novel.
I wasn't sure what to expect - I didn't really know that much about him or his work (aside from the fact he was a New York Times Best selling author). Sunday morning I started wondering if I should even go. There was a The Walking Dead marathon on AMC (since the season 2 finale is tonight) and I get kind of lazy by Sunday afternoon. When I told Josh I wasn't sure I should go he pulled out a quote from the Simpsons (is there ANYTHING in life that show doesn't have a quote for?) Josh said I would be sorry if I didn't got just like when Homer was sorry he didn't go earlier to meeting Mr. T
From the episode Deep Space Homer:
Marge: But on the other hand, when you don't take advantage of an
opportunity, you can end up regretting it for the rest of your
Homer: You're right, Marge. Just like the time I could have met Mr. T
at the mall. The entire day I kept saying, "I'll go a little
later. I'll go a little later." And then when I got there, they
told me he'd just left. And when I asked the mall guy if he
would ever come back again, he said he didn't know. Well, I'm
never going to let something like that happen again! I'm going
into space right now!
Well, I didn't go into space but I did go listen to the talk and I was so glad Josh convinced me to go! Mr. Boyle was delightful! (shhhhhh, don't tell Josh he was right).
First he thanked us for coming out on a cold rainy Sunday (it was actually a very warm and sunny, albeit windy, day). He then told us he had discovered our purpose in life while in the men's room - it was to be the receivers of advertisements. Apparently there was a television in the mirror in the men's room that blasted ads while you washed your hands.
He chatted briefly about his new book, When the Killing's Done and how it was inspired by the history of what has happened with the wildlife on Channel Islands off the coast of California. Sounds like a very interesting book (and yes, I bought a copy and had him sign it).
He then read us one of his short stories, The Lie, which tells the story of what happens when a disillusioned 26-year-old calls in to get out of work with a lie. As he was reading it I could really imagine this guy telling this lie, skipping work,and then dealing with the ramifications of his story. Some authors are great writers but not great readers. Mr. Boyle was the exception. He was a fantastic reader and made the story come alive!
I did some searching when I got home and found out this was expanded into a movie last year. Not sure if it was ever in theaters but it is on demand on Netflix so I may have to check it out.
After he was done he took some audience questions which were less than interesting, finished up the talk and went out to sign books. I had brought A Friend of the Earth and had him sign that as well.
Unfortunately I thought I had taken a picture of him during the talk but my camera on my phone decided not to save it so I'll post a picture from another blog that describes his talk as he was wearing pretty much the exact same outfit (from Boswellandbooks.bogspot.com).
Overall it was a great talk by a very personable author.
And I got some knitting done.