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Tooth and Claw

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,194 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
Since his first collection of stories, Descent of Man, appeared in 1979, T.C. Boyle has become an acknowledged master of the form who has transformed the nature of short fiction in our time. Among the fourteen tales in his seventh collection are the comic yet lyrical title story, in which a young man wins a vicious African cat in a bar bet; "Dogology," about a suburban wom ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 2005)
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Jason Koivu
Jan 12, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
Slackers, drunks, bartenders, drunken bartenders, casual drug users, and a whole host of ne'erdowells populate story after story of Tooth and Claw, a collective, mostly contemporary look at the modern day, average joe.

I don't recall the last time I enjoyed reading go-nowhere character sketch stories as much as I did this collection! That's not to say there are no exciting plot turns or hilarious situations gone wrong. Humor is plentiful herein. But it's the language that bought it all together.
Aug 06, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok
Perhaps 2 stars is too harsh. I give it 2.7 stars I guess.

Throughout life we stumble upon many stories which MUST be told, these, I am afraid, are not them. The writing talent is apparent, though the subject matter leaves much to be desired. I would liken it to a wonderful acting talent being cast for a horrible B movie. A project impossible to rescue. It was not all bad. As you would expect from a writer of this caliber, there were a few gem-worthy sentences to be extracted. Also, I did enjoy t
Nov 22, 2007 Matt rated it really liked it
The most exciting collection of short stories I've read in... well, maybe ever. Boyle is a master of short fiction. The thing that strikes me the most is how much more closely life is like a series of short stories than it is like a novel. The characters, plot, and settings are already underway before we become familiar with them, and will continue to exist after we have left them. Boyle manages to express the meat of a moment in time, its importance in the life of the character, and its import ...more
Jul 29, 2009 Cynical rated it really liked it
I enjoyed spending time in Boyle's world, just as I did when I read The Tortilla Curtain a while back, but I don't know if these stories really affected me the way the novel did. Someone else mentioned "Dogology" as a highlight, and I'd have to concur. That same person mentioned disliking "The Doubtfulness of Water" as a low point, and I'd have to agree there as well.

What Boyle does well here is create real protagonists--understandable, sympathetic (sometimes pathetic), and almost tactile. What
May 19, 2009 Mbarkle rated it liked it
I liked this collection of stories, had already read a few in the New Yorker. I love the one about the guy who wins a serval in a bar. I keep mixing these up with the Denis Johnson story about the guy with the knife in his eye (Emergency Room, I think it is). All the hospital workers are tripping on drugs, things are just crazy. This book is along those lines, lots of drinking and a decided lack of direction in people.
May 25, 2007 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Short story fans
Shelves: short-stories
It's more TC Boyle! I love this guy, especially his short stories. The highlight here is probably "Dogology" and the lowlight is that super long and boring story about a woman's travel from Boston to New York, in 1702. The title is almost as long as some of the other stories in the book. Seriously, the only pleasure I got from reading that story was when they went through Rhode Island and talked about places I know. But since it's 300 years ago, I don't really care.
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 Frederick Bingham rated it liked it
A book of short stories by T. C. Boyle, read by the author. The title story is about a man who obtains a caged serval in a bar bet. The creature turns out to be nasty and dangerous. However, it does give him the in with a nice looking woman who is a waitress at the bar. "Up Against the Wall" is a (semi-autobiographical) story about a young man, living with his parents in the 60's who comes to start hanging out, doing drugs and getting into trouble. His parents marital discord and the Vietnam war ...more
Jan 25, 2009 Christine rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories by T.C. Boyle was a good read. Most stories captivated you - dropping you into a story, walking you through it, and then lifting you out at just the right time.

I enjoyed most of them. I must agree with other readers that "The Doubtfulness of Water" was just painful - I couldn't finish it. My favorite also concurs with most reviewers - Dogology is unlike anything I've read before. Loved it! Some were just disturbing - the one where the aligator ate the kid, and t
Demisty Bellinger
Jul 21, 2010 Demisty Bellinger rated it liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
Boyle gets in close in these stories, using only a handful of characters (two or three, usually) per piece, so nothing feels crowded. He looks at alcoholism, love relationships, and parenthood. His style and subject matter is reminiscent of Raymond Carver's, though Boyle lets the narration tell his tales, where Carver relies more on dialog. Still, it is clear that Boyle has read Carver well.

“Dogology” breaks away from the subject matter of most of the stories, a chronicle of a woman who is study
Bookmarks Magazine

Boyle__beloved author of The Inner Circle and Drop City__is a masterful prose stylist. This volume showcases his skill, hurling such wonderful phrases as "face that was like a dried-up field plowed in both directions" at the reader. But the reviews of this collection were mixed, suggesting that Boyle is a bit too enamored of his own wordsmithing. A few critics claimed that he was so busy making it rococo and perfect that he failed to develop characters that readers care about. Still, the collect

Shelter Island Public Library
Patron review:
"A hilarious ride through short stories concerning various environmental urgencies"
Nov 29, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I keep piking up The Women at the bookstore, but haven't been willing yet to pony up the money. I ran across Tooth & Claw at Salvation Army and figured for a dollar I'd give it a shot to see if I like Boyle's style. Based on these stories, not so much. Th stories are very eclectic so there are a few that I enjoyed, but they were more the exception than the rule for me. His tendency to leave stories very open ended, with no real plot crescendo or conclusion, irritated me. His writing flows sm ...more
May 10, 2012 BoekenTrol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: marsala
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: franaloe
Had the book contained only 3 stories, it would have gotten 5 stars. But... it didn't.

Of all the stories, there were actually 3 that I liked a lot, being "When I woke up this morning, Everything I had was gone", "Chicxulub" and "Tooth and Claw". Why these? I'm not sure. They differ quite a bit when contents is compared, but the main thing is, that they kept my attention for one reason or the other while reading. I actually liked the writing and wanted more of these three, found they were too sh
Sep 23, 2012 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging stories (with the audiobook read by the author) about the interplay of humanity with nature. The title story finds a man discovering the wild in a wild cat: following this is a story about a woman's journey alone on horseback through the early US as she discovers the power of water in nature; there's a funny story about the ultimate master controlled community; lots of stories revolve around men discovering the wild power of alcohol; and the collection ends with what T. C. Boyle says is ...more
I attempted this because I've been attempting to cultivate a palate for short fiction, but the stories I read from this collection (the first three) ended up being pretty good case studies in what leaves me cold about a lot of mainstream literary fiction. Ironic remove in place of emotional engagement, premises that were so mannered as to cross the line into preciousness. (I pretty much checked out after the dog lady introduced herself as "C.f." -- like Canis familiaris! See, because she's tryin ...more
Oct 29, 2015 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often am successful in resisting the temptation to (again) try short story anthologies, but I succumbed yet one more time. There were a couple fairly engaging stories that I almost wished would "grow up" to be full-blown novels, but a couple others seemed less promising. However, the additional piece that the author tagged on at the end should have been left off. The qustioner sounds very "staged" (and I even had visions of the good professor seducing one of his writing students with an enhanc ...more
Nov 07, 2007 Diana rated it it was amazing
T.C. Boyle is hands down, one of my most favorite authors. This collection of short stories is cohesive and stunning in its ability to give you that drop kick punch in the gut that tells you that you've just read something with wisdom, wit, and terrific technical ability. Boyle is THE writer of our generation. Alice Munroe is another of my favorite authors, but T.C. Boyle is amazing for his stories' literary quality, readability, and mind-bogling prolificness. And, he always includes at least on ...more
Jekka Jones
Nov 25, 2007 Jekka Jones rated it it was ok
Shelves: other
He is a very good writer, and if you're trying to figure out craft like flashbacks, focalization, and whatnot, then definitly read. However, he seems to write a lot about people who waste their lives away in bars and taverns. It got wearisome after a while. There were four stories I really liked. One, believe it or not, was about a guy who talks to an older man in the bar, and the focalization technique is absolutely fascinating. All the other stories were basically ones that had to do with fami ...more
N W James
Jan 26, 2008 N W James rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Boyle fans
Shelves: short-stories
There are glimmers in each of these stories that remind me why Boyle is one of my favorite authors. The man whose wife is whisked out to sea the day he professes his renewed love. The juxtaposition of an asteroid slamming into the earth and the possible abduction of a man's daughter. An attempt to save his friends from the police, forces a junkie to give up his habit. Such intriguing premises, but with every short story I felt like the closing sentences ended with an elipses or a breath. I suppo ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely collection to reaffirm my love for Boyle after the travesty that was, "The Inner Circle"! I didn't realize it til the second story, but I'd read this collection years earlier, before I got into Boyle. I appreciated it then, and I appreciate it more now -- especially "Dogology". That was the one story that really stuck with me the first time around. This collection proves once again that T.C. Boyle can take a reader and transport him anywhere, to any time, place or plane. It gets a ...more
Oct 25, 2007 Spacemummy rated it really liked it
T.C Boyle is a solid writer who rarely disappoints. Sometimes I have to slow my reading down to better masticate some of his prose chunks. His meter and turn of phrase ranks with some of the better American poets, such as the natural musings of Gary Snyder, the acerbic wit of Margaret Atwood or the self-revealing ruminations of Richard Hass. That said, it is really his characters that are his forte. They are not noble examples, but fleshy beings with health complaints, wandering lusts, subject t ...more
Jan 02, 2011 Alicia rated it liked it
An interesting compilation of short stories. Most of them deal with the desperation and chaos of young adulthood through the eyes of a young man. Insecurities and anxieties were drowned in a flood of alcohol and drugs in the company of other desperados. Many of the stories made me cringe and squirm as the progressively destructive actions wore on their offender. Yet, these characters were human enough to elict sympathy (and a degree of self recognition) and I hoped for their redemption, in whate ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Nate rated it really liked it
Sometimes the pictures taken with nice digital cameras look "super-real"; when T.C. Boyle transports the reader, there's a smooth, super-reality to it. He does this in spite of the stories' brevity, and when the tales end the end is sudden, leaving the reader in a void grasping for reminders of his or her own life. Stories that burned themselves into my memory include "The Swift Passage of Animals" about a couple that gets their car stuck in the snow, "Here Comes" about a new vagabond, and "The ...more
Jul 22, 2010 Andrew rated it it was ok
The collection of short stories was pretty hit or miss for me, and while I definitely came away with the impression that Boyle knows how to write, I also came away with the opinion that his style doesn't really cut it for me. If I had to try to pinpoint my main problem with these stories it would be that by and large, I didn't really care for any of the characters in the stories. Having sympathetic characters isn't a necessity as long as the underlying stories are strong, but that's not always t ...more
Sep 14, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story about the guy winning the feral cat in the bar bet was the best, and the story about the lady in the 1700s getting grumpy on a horse was the absolute dumbest. In between that there were some pretty good ones. He's no Raymond Carver, but he still likes to talk about people drinking and thinking about their ex-wives/ex-girlfriends. Shout-out to men: Don't become such a bad drunk that your wife has no choice but to leave you, and then complain about it. It's not becoming. But if you do, w ...more
Oct 04, 2015 Marsha rated it liked it
Boyle is an amazing writer. It is a pleasure to turn every page. I only gave this a three, probably in part that this is a book of short stories and I'm not particularly fond of short stories. It is a tribute to Boyle that I read every one. Nonetheless, most of these stories are told by a very male point of view from characters that are lost and unsettled. By the end of the book, I found myself tired of these guys. Perhaps if I had read a few and put the book down, I would have given this a 4 or ...more
Jul 04, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it
Read this after reading Tortilla Curtain...great writing, interesting juxtapositions, and yet, it became more of the same with each story...bitter, alcoholic characters who were compelling enough for me to finish the collection...would have benefited from some variation of theme...still recommend this, and would be good to read a few, then read something else, then go back to the collection on a later date.

John Seyfarth
Jul 07, 2010 John Seyfarth rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories displays Boyle's considerable skill as a writer. "Chicxulub" is about a 17-year-old girl who goes out with friends one stormy night and ends up walking home. The girl's parents await her arrival, but a message from police leaves them bereft. Boyle juxtaposes the story of the girl with accounts of two meteors that crashed into earth in prehistoric times with long-lasting consequences. The story ends with an unexpected twist.
Oct 14, 2007 Greg rated it really liked it
One reviewer described TC Boyle's voice as having the "authority of a whip", and that may be the best way to put it. Most of his characters here are men who find themselves pinned between civility and their darker, more animal urges, to either hilarious or moving effect. Stories that really stand out: When I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone; Swept Away; Jubilation; Blinded by the Light; and Tooth and Claw.
Oct 17, 2008 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good collection of short stories, read by the author for the audio version. It's nice to hear the author read his own work and definitely gave the audio version a little extra interest. I wish that the audio producers had put more of a break between one story and the next - a musical line or something similar - because the stories tended to blend one into the other and it was easy to miss the breaks. I especially enjoyed "Dogology," but the whole collection was good.
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T. Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, born Thomas John Boyle on December 2, 1948) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published eleven novels and more than 60 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his third novel, World's End, which recounts 300 years in upstate New York. He is married with three children. Boyle has been a Distinguis ...more
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“She didn't recognize him and he didn't recognize her, because people and places change and what once was will never be again.” 9 likes
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