T.C. Boyle is my favorite author and I hate him. The reasons he stands as my favorite author are almost as multitudinous as Mr. Boyle’s dextrous vocabulary or perhaps his amazingly diverse lexicon of stories, while the reasons I hate him feel much more self-serving and nebulous. The latter seems the easiest place to start, for is it not necessary to scrape the surface before delving into the depths, and my hatred for Mr Boyle is indeed a very thin veneer covering a universe of praise, envy, and inspiration. His latest collection of short stories does nothing to allay my previous feelings toward him, and indeed both my love and hate of his stories and writing have been multiplied after reading this latest collection–Tooth and Claw.
First of all, why do I hate him? For one thing he uses lots of big words in his stories, many words I have never encountered in all my days of speaking and reading English, words like insouciance, hypnogogic, and astereognosis. When reading a T.C. Boyle story prepare to feel like your vocabulary is woefully inadequate, and make sure you have a dictionary handy. He strings his language together into sentences in such a unique and unexpected way that I am left awed and envious and feeling unworthy (see example quoted in p-6). I know I couldn’t have written it myself, but wish I had anyway. He is funny, and his dry written wit is constantly making me smile, chuckle, laugh out loud even, and my own pitiful attempts at humor will never measure up. He is so prolific, and all of it of such seeming high quality. Who can hope to compare to such standards? Often when I think I have an idea for a great story I realize that T.C. Boyle has not only already written something similar, but it is far better than anything I could have imagined. (more…)