Tag Archives: tc boyle

“Throwback” Interview with author T.C. Boyle by Frank Mundo

I’ve interviewed a lot of amazing writers over the years. Unfortunately, I never collected my interviews anywhere for safe keeping, and many of them (most of them) are lost forever. In January 2010, I interviewed author T.C. Boyle for a magazine that, more than eight years later, is no longer around, and I thought this was one of the interviews that was lost forever as well (since only a teaser version is recorded here on my blog) — which sucked a big one because I really liked what he had to say.

Luckily, I was cleaning out my emails the other day, and I found my correspondences with Mr. Boyle, one of which had the interview attached. So yay for being lazy and not cleaning out my email.

I’m posting the interview here as a throwback piece and to keep a record of it. I’m hoping to find some of my other interviews I really enjoyed as well. In the meantime, here is my interview with author TC Boyle from January 2010:

The Reviews:
Very few writers have had long-term success at writing both novels and collections of short stories. One of these writers is TC Boyle, distinguished professor at the prestigious creative writing program at USC and the prolific and long-renowned author of 12 novels and 9 short story collections.

On January 25th, 2010, both of these worlds will collide with the paperback release of Boyle’s newest bestselling novel, The Women, and the hardcover release of his latest collection of fiction, Wild Child – the perfect opportunity to see for yourself why TC Boyle has earned a solid reputation as one of our nation’s most humorous and entertaining storytellers in both genres.

In The Women, Boyle offers a mesmerizing fictional account of the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright told in reverse chronology through the eyes of four beautiful, passionate, and tragic women who truly loved him. This is Boyle’s third turn at fictionalizing the life of an enormous historical American figure — a triumvirate of egomaniacal geniuses, including John Harvey Kellogg (The Road to Wellville) and Alfred Kinsey (The Inner Circle), whose passions and accomplishments still affect us all today in one way or another.

In Wild Child, Nature is the main tool Boyle calls on to showcase his intelligent humor, surreal style, and socially-conscious sensibility, the hallmarks of his best work, in this excellent collection of 14 stories that gleefully remind us, despite our best efforts, that human beings are just animals once-removed by civilization.

In the title story, likely the one that will get the most attention by critics, Boyle shares his unique version of the wild boy raised in the wilderness by animals. But for new readers of Boyle’s work, or his fans in California, there are a few must-read stories that specifically address our own unique relationship with nature: “Ash Monday” (which discusses the California wildfires); “La Conchita” (based on the 1995 mudslide that buried 9 homes in Ventura); and “Question 62” that details the lives of suburban Californians turned upside down by a rogue mountain lion. The rest of the collection displays the amazing range and talent of a storyteller who lives up to the hype and always delivers the goods.

I especially liked the disturbing story “The Lie” in which a man, who has already used up all of his sick and personal days, lies to his boss about his newborn child’s death as an excuse to get out of work. This story alone is worth the price of admission.

The paperback version of The Women and Boyle’s newest collection of short fiction, Wild Child, are available in bookstores on Monday, January 25th. To learn more about TC Boyle, visit his website.

The Interview:
I had the great opportunity to interview TC Boyle recently. Please take a few more minutes to read this insightful and revealing discussion about his work and his life (including a bit on his next novel now in the works).

Q: Wild Child is your ninth collection of short stories, which coincides with the paperback release of your 12th novel, The Women. What compels or inspires you to write, and how do maintain such a prolific pace?

A: Oh, lordy, at the risk of dragging out the old clichés, let me just say that writing is my life and I cannot address the world without it. (Of, course, Hemingway had a solution for that.) There is an excitement to making art that is like an addiction, a phenomenon I discuss in my essay (at tcboyle.com) called, “This Monkey, My Back.” I never know what a given story or even novel will be and the thrill is in discovering it, sentence by sentence, day by day.

Q: You were born in New York , studied in Iowa , and then made your way here to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara . As fans and students of yours, we Californians have sort of claimed you as one of our own – as one of our best writers. Where do you see yourself in all of this and does geography affect your writing? 

A: I humbly thank all my fellow Californians for embracing me.  It is a joy and an honor to be amongst you.  However, I should say that I’d never been west of the Hudson till I was twenty-one, and then I went all the way west to Buffalo because my inamorata was a Buffalo gal.  Now–and ever since I started at USC in 1978– California is my home, and I ain’t never going back.  As for how this works out in my writing: I guess I will always be something of an interloper here and so perhaps I see things–or saw them–in a slightly different way, as, for instance, in The Tortilla Curtain.  The environment here excites me and it seems strange and new (whoever thought we’d settle in so comfortably with our quakes, our mudslides and firestorms?).  Many of my recent stories and novels reflect this, like “Ash Monday,” which deals with our fires, and “La Conchita,” which is built around the mudslide there, both of which are part of Wild Child.

Q: When I think TC Boyle, I think first entertainment, then music, then craft – all of which combine together into an art form that I genuinely appreciate and admire. In my opinion, you’re one of the few writers who seem to understand that you’re competing with TV, film, music, video games, social media and a billion other fun wastes of time. Is this a conscious effort on your part? Do you worry about your potential audience and the challenge of entertaining today’s “busy” readers?

A: All art is entertainment, lest we forget and try to seal it all away behind the gates of the university. I do what I do unconsciously, making stories because it seems natural to me and allows me to try to sort things out for myself. I am glad that you and others find them engaging on all levels. And yes, I do try to carve out a little place for my work amidst the noise of society and I do believe in giving an entertaining stage performance, but I do not write in order to attract attention or to have pieces to perform.  I know what will work on stage and what will not. And so I select. I also have to admit to being a little tiny bit of a ham and an extrovert, who used to shake out with a little rock and roll band.

Q: Going back to question 3, how much does music influence or affect your writing process?

A: I have never written anything without musical accompaniment. The musicality of the language and the beauty of its construction is the foundation for any story. Beauty, that’s what we’re after. All of us.

Q: I hate the saying, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” As a former high school teacher and current college professor, how do you address this statement?

A: I teach because it is a major part of my life. What makes it even better is that I have been fortunate for many years now to have an audience for my work, so that there is no economic necessity to teach. But I love the interaction with my students, I love their discipline and talent, and I love being privileged enough to be their coach. In my case, anyway, I can do and I can teach too. Further, most of the professors I know teach out of love of the subject and, as is also true for me, as a way of giving back to the system and to the people who inspired us.

Q: As a humanist, your writing addresses a lot of social issues, especially in regard to science and religion – but you don’t offer a lot of answers or preachy messages in response. As you’ve work out these concepts in your writing over the years, have you come close to finding answers for yourself, even if you don’t often share them in your work?

A: Yes, I am concerned with social and environmental issues. What rational person is not? But advocacy and art do not mix. Art is a seduction. Good art invites the reader to think and feel deeply and come to his/her own conclusions. As for myself: I am in despair, caught between a Darwin and a hard place (see the story “Bulletproof” from this collection). I have no hope, no answers. What I do have to counterbalance nihilism is art, family, friendship, usefulness. But then, what is useful when we live only to die?

Q: You’ve had great success in writing both short stories and novels. Which do you prefer and (maybe you can settle the age-old dispute) which is harder?

A: I am equally at home with both and feel lucky to be able to turn to stories after a long exhausting bout of novel-writing — and vice versa.

Q: Kids today (uh oh, I’m sounding like my parents) seem less interested in reading than ever. What do you think this means to the future of writing and publishing? Are we doomed?

A: Yes, we are doomed. While I am deeply grateful to be taught in the classrooms of this country and abroad too, I hate to see the subversive and interactive process of reading a novel relegated to an assignment, like trigonometry. How many of us graduate and do a little trig in our spare time? Here is the ray of hope: books provide an experience that neither film nor video game can fully duplicate, because books — of fiction and poetry in particular — ask so much of individual readers and take them so very deep inside themselves. Of course, this way madness lies, I understand that, but there you have it. Read and get well. Or maybe read and get sick.

Q: How do you feel about e-books and e-readers? Do you use any of these devices?

A: I do not have a Kindle, though my books are licensed for its use worldwide. Our work (that of we writers) would have been stolen long ago, as has happened with movies, music, video games, except that no one cares enough to steal it. Beyond that, the audience for books, even as it dwindles, still wants to embrace the object. A book is beautiful in itself. This is why I have always petitioned for inviting and representative covers–books should look like the rock and roll album covers of a bygone era. Hold the book, enjoy it, stroke it.

Q: What books are you reading right now? Are there any writers you feel who deserve more attention than they currently receive?

A: Just finished Carol Sklenica’s biography of Ray Carver, which was so rich it was like drinking whale’s blood. And I’m rediscovering the multifarious delights of Walter Kirn’s 2001 novel, Up in the Air, which inspired the superb Jason Reitman movie of the same name. Funny thing, too, even though we are doomed (see above), both literarily and literally, there are whole hosts of amazing writers, writing away, and they are far too numerous to name. Go to the bookstore and ask around. They’ll tell you. And definitely check out the L.A. writer, Richard Lange. He’s a great new novelist.

 

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This Week in Books: April 3 – April 9

The LA Books Examiner is your place for books articles, poetry videos, and author interviews. This week we shared with you the first chapter of The Omega Theory by international bestselling author Mark Alpert. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out now because we have more surprise bestselling authors sharing excerpts from their new books all throughout April. Later this week we also have a special Five Favorite Books article from Golden State author David Prybil, Barnes and Noble Rising Star Award Winner so be sure to check back in often this week.

In the mean time, check out some of the great local events scheduled this week from LA to Hollywood, the Palisades to Pasadena in this week’s Books Calendar from Frank Mundo, the LA Books Examiner.

Sunday April 3

Ellen Ruderman discusses and signs Chasing the Red Car at Diesel Books (Brentwood), Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th Street, Santa Monica. 3 p.m. Free. 310-576-9960.

University of California, Riverside Master of Fine Arts students read from their work. The student readers are: Eric Shonkwiler(fiction), Leonid Leonov(ficiton), Kamala Puligandla(fiction), Samantha Lamph(fiction), Rachelle Cruz(poetry), Angel Garcia(poetry). Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles. 5 p.m. Free. (323) 660-1175.

John Vorhaus discusses and signs The Albuquerque Turkey at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. 5 p.m. Free. (626) 449-5320.

Darrell Rooney and Mark Vieira read and sign Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937 at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 5 p.m. Free. (310) 659-3110.

Monday April 4

Jacqueline Winspear discusses and signs A Lesson in Secrets at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. 7 p.m. Free. (626) 449-5320.

Matthew Alexander discusses and signs Kill or Capture: How a Special Operations Task Force Took Down a Notorious al Qaeda Terrorist at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 7 p.m. Free. (310) 659-3110.

Michelle Latiolais reads and signs her story collection Widow at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles. 7:30 p.m. Free. (323) 660-1175.

Tuesday April 5

Open poetry reading plus Hollywood Institute of Poetics presents: Kevin Lee at the Cobalt Cafe, 22047 Sherman Way, Canoga Park. Opens 8:30 p.m. Sign-up for open reading before 9 p.m. when reading starts. One drink minimum (no alcohol). Event Hosted by LA poet Rick Lupert.

Village Books High School Playwrighting Contest: A staged reading of 3 One Acts whose actions take place in a bookstore. In alphabetical order, the playwrights  are: Capucine Berneyfor “The Day Your Father is Not Your Father,” Laura Morafffor “In My Head,” and Kurtz Meldridgefor “Pages & Sages.” Honorable mention went to middle-schooler Kacey Baefor “The Devil’s Hour.” Village Books, 1049 Swarthmore Avenue, Pacific Palisades. 6 pm. $10. Refreshments will be provided.

My Bloody Valentine: Young Adult Group Eventwith authors Melissa de la Cruz (Bloody Valentine), Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures)), Melissa Marr (Darkest Mercy (Wicked Lovely)), Kelley Armstrong (The Gathering, The Reckoning), Carrie Ryan (The Dark and Hollow Places), and Sarah Rees Brennan (The Demon’s Covenant (Demon’s Lexicon)) at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 7 p.m. Free. (310) 659-3110.

Daniel A. Olivas discusses and signs The Book of Want at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. 7 p.m. Free. (626) 449-5320.

Jim Krusoe reads and signs Toward You at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles. 7:30 p.m. Free. (323) 660-1175.

Wednesday April 6

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon discusses and signs The Dressmaker of Khair Khana at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. 7 p.m. Free. (626) 449-5320.

Sarah Maizes discusses and signs Got Milf?: The Modern Mom’s Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great, and Rocking A Minivan with author Dani Klein Modisett, presenting and signing Afterbirth: Stories You Won’t Read in a Parenting Magazine at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 7 p.m. Free. (310) 659-3110.

Thursday April 7

Feral Fusion Open Mike: Hosted by Angel Uriel Perales and Cindy Weinstein, Feral Fusion encourages experimentation in the spoken word: lyric poetry, prose poetry, free verse, hip hop, slam and storytelling at The Amsterdam Café, 10905 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Free. Sign-up at 8 pm. Show starts at 8:30 pm. Email: feralfusion [AT] cindynw.com

Book Soup and The Bootleg Theatre present T.C. Boyle reading and signing from his latest book, When the Killing’s Done at the Bootleg Theatre (2220 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles). 7 p.m. More info at Book Soup.

Read Frank Mundo‘s, the LA Books Examiner’s, interview with T.C. Boyle.

M.L. Malcolm and guests discuss and sign Heart of Deception: A Novel at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 7 p.m. Free. (310) 659-3110.

Lauren Willig discusses and signs The Orchid Affair at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. 7 p.m. Free. (626) 449-5320.

Nancy Rommelmann reads and signs The Bad Mother at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles. 7:30 p.m. Free. (323) 660-1175.

Linda and David Freud discuss and sign The Healing Gift: Exploring the Remarkable World of a Medical Intuitive at Bodhi Tree Bookstore, 8585 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood. 7:30 p.m. Free. (310) 659-1733.  http://www.thehealinggift.com/

Friday April 8

Andrea Buchanan and guests discuss and sign Live and Let Love: Notes from Extraordinary Women on the Layers, the Laughter, and the Letter of Love at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 7 p.m. Free. (310) 659-3110.

Diane Ackerman discusses and signs One Hundred Names for Love at Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave, Pasadena. 7 pm. See Vroman’s for more info.

Meg Wolitzer discusses and signs The Uncoupling at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. 7 p.m. Free. (626) 449-5320.

Bill Cloke, PhD, discusses Happy Together at Village Books, 1049 Swarthmore Avenue, Pacific Palisades. 7:30 p.m. Free.

Amber Benson and Patrick Rothfuss read and sign their respective novels Serpent’s Storm and The Wise Man’s Fear at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles. 7:30 p.m. Free. (323) 660-1175.

Three Points North: Three major poets – lifelong Alaskans Anne Coray, Steve Kahn, and Alaska’s State Writer Laureate Peggy Shumaker read their work and discuss their writing at Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice. 7:30 p.m. (310) 822-3006. See Beyond Baroque website for event pricing and more info.

Saturday April 9

Charlie Churchward discusses and signs Herb Ritts: The Golden Hour: A Photographer’s Life and His World at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 5 p.m. Free. (310) 659-3110.

Lisa Lutz and David Heyward discuss and sign Heads You Lose at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. 5 p.m. Free. (626) 449-5320.

Smart Gals’ 6th Annual Dead Poets Slam: Monarchs vs. Minions: Hosted by Christine Louise Berry (Smart Gals), and featuring Noël Alumit, Daniel Bess, Jerrod Cardwell, T.K. Carr, Kathleen Coyne, Juli Crockett, Imani Tolliver, Steve Tom, and Lori Yeghiayan. Judges will include writer and poetry professor Chris Davidson, playwright Katy Hickman, and Clifford Johnson. The behind-the-scenes team includes poetry seekers Tori Patterson and Laura Louden. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles. 7 p.m. Free. (323) 660-1175.

*All events and speakers are subject to change without notice. Always confirm with the bookstore before attending any event.

If you’d like to announce your Los Angeles area book events on LA Books Examiner, or the release of an upcoming book, send info at least 10 days prior to the email address under my bio. While you’re there, sign up for my emails and follow me on Twitter @LABooksExaminer.

Frank Mundo is the author of The Brubury Tales (foreword by Carolyn See), which is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in paperback and in eBook. The Brubury Tales won Reader View’s 2011 Reviewer’s Choice Award for Poetry Book of the Year and the 2011 Bookhitch Award for Innovative Poetry Book of the Year.

LA Books Examiner’s Author Interview Series

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California Book Award Finalists include TC Boyle: See the full list and read the interview with TC Boyle

The Commonwealth Club of California has announced finalists for the 79th Annual California Book Awards. These are books written by California authors in 2009. What a great way to discover some new books from some of the best writers from California – especially new poetry for National Poetry Month. The winners will be announced April 19th, and an awards ceremony is scheduled for June 3, 2010, in San Francisco. 

In the fiction category this year is the bestselling novel The Women by distinguished USC professor TC Boyle, who was interviewed earlier this year by Frank Mundo, the LA Books Examiner. 

Poetry:
Rachel Loden, Dick of the Dead. Published by Ahsahta Press
Robin Ekiss, Mansion of Happiness. Published by University of Georgia Press
Randall Mann, Breakfast with Thom Gunn. Published by University Of Chicago Press
Joseph Stroud, Of This World. Published by Copper Canyon Press
D.A. Powell, Chronic. Graywolf Press

Non-Fiction:
William T. Vollman, Imperial. Published by Viking Adult
Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell. Published by Viking Adult
Dave Eggers, Zeitoun. Published by McSweeny’s
Ray Raphael, Founders. Published by New Press.
Minal Hajratwala, Leaving India. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

First Fiction:
Skip Horack, The Southern Cross. Published by Mariner Books
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone. Published by Knopf
Victoria Patterson, Drift. Published by Mariner Books
Lori Ostlund, The Bigness of the World. Published by University of Georgia Press
Carolina de Robertis, The Invisible Mountain. Published by Knopf

Fiction:
T.C. Boyle, The Women. Published by Viking Adult
Yiyun Li, The Vagrants. Published by Random House
Michelle Huneven, Blame. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Percival Everett, I am Not Sidney Poitier. Published by Graywolf Press
Maile Meloy, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It. Published by Riverhead

See the full list of finalists at LA Books Examiner.

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Wild Child: An Interview with Bestselling Author TC Boyle

Photo by Spencer Boyle

Very few writers have had long-term success at writing both novels and collections of short stories. One of these writers is TC Boyle, distinguished professor at the prestigious creative writing program at USC and the prolific and long-renowned author of 12 novels and 9 short story collections.

On January 25th, 2010, both of these worlds will collide with the paperback release of Boyle’s newest bestselling novel, The Women, and the hardcover release of his latest collection of fiction, Wild Child – the perfect opportunity to see for yourself why TC Boyle has earned a solid reputation as one of our nation’s most humorous and entertaining storytellers in both genres.

The Books:
The women by tc boyle la books examinerIn The Women, Boyle offers a mesmerizing fictional account of the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright told in reverse chronology through the eyes of four beautiful, passionate, and tragic women who truly loved him. This is Boyle’s third turn at fictionalizing the life of an enormous historical American figure — a triumvirate of egomaniacal geniuses, including John Harvey Kellogg (The Road to Wellville) and Alfred Kinsey (The Inner Circle), whose passions and accomplishments still affect us all today in one way or another.

wild child by tc boyleIn Wild Child, Nature is the main tool Boyle calls on to showcase his intelligent humor, surreal style, and socially-conscious sensibility, the hallmarks of his best work, in this excellent collection of 14 stories that gleefully remind us, despite our best efforts, that human beings are just animals once-removed by civilization.

In the title story, likely the one that will get the most attention by critics, Boyle shares his unique version of the wild boy raised in the wilderness by animals. But for new readers of Boyle’s work, or his fans in California, there are a few must-read stories that specifically address our own unique relationship with nature: “Ash Monday” (which discusses the California wildfires); “La Conchita” (based on the 1995 mudslide that buried 9 homes in Ventura); and “Question 62” that details the lives of suburban Californians turned upside down by a rogue mountain lion. The rest of the collection displays the amazing range and talent of a storyteller who lives up to the hype and always delivers the goods.

I especially liked the disturbing story “The Lie” in which a man, who has already used up all of his sick and personal days, lies to his boss about his newborn child’s death as an excuse to get out of work. This story alone is worth the price of admission.

The paperback version of The Women and Boyle’s newest collection of short fiction, Wild Child, are available in bookstores on Monday, January 25th. To learn more about TC Boyle, visit his website.  

The Events:
You can meet TC Boyle on January 25th at a special event at the Richard J. Riordan Central Library, 630 West Fifth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071. I heard, however, that this event is full already, but standby tickets may still be available. Contact The Library Foundation of Los Angelesfor more info.

TC Boyle will also be doing a Word Theatre performance on Sunday Feb 21 at the Edye Theatre in Santa Monica. Order tickets here before this event is full as well. Also be sure to check out the LA Books Examiner’s Books Calendar each week for more great local book events.

The Interview:
I had the great opportunity to interview TC Boyle recently. Please take a few more minutes to read this insightful and revealing discussion about his work and his life (including a bit on his next novel now in the works). 

Read the interview at LA Books Examiner.

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