World's End
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World's End

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  2,232 ratings  ·  166 reviews
This multi-generational novel ranges over the history of the Hudson River Valley from the late seventeenth century to the late 1960s with low humor, high seriousness, and magical, almost hallucinatory prose. It follows the interwoven destinies of families of Indians, lordly Dutch patrons, and yeomen.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published July 20th 1990 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
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Marcia Fine
I am a huge TC Boyle fan. I read almost everything he writes. His vocabulary, plotting, sense of history and how it crashes into the living all make him extraordinary. World's End won the Pen/Faulkner Award for him early in his career. This book examines where we came from and how much it influences us. Are we trapped like Walter with ghosts that frame us inside a future we can't escape? He explains how brutal the wealthy Dutch settlers of the 17th c. were to their own kind, how mistreated the I...more
Fabian
Okay, so this is my first five-star rating, and the last book I would have taken such liberties to rave about was the often-mentioned "Middlesex."

No, this one is not as amazing as that novel, nor is it a masterpiece. It is, though, a work the reader immediately appreciates. How the hell did someone concoct such a yarn?

Well, there is plenty to write about. About generations and about curses and about lives well lived and wasted away, lives separated from commonalities that should bring them toget...more
Sara Regan
Oct 29, 2007 Sara Regan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone, esp. history geeks
Dramatic, hilarious and harrowing tales of parallel fates of many generations of Dutch, English and Native Americans from colonial New Amsterdam/New York to 1960's Peterskill. TC Boyle mixes expert storytelling with fascinating accounts of the history of the Hudson River Valley. His accounts of daily life under Dutch feudalism in New Amsterdam (well before the arrival/rule of the English) are unforgettable. Boyle's writing is fantastic - juxtaposing grand, classical language with a hilarious sor...more
Maria Headley
Same Grecian vacation. I was on a T.C. Boyle kick. This one's an epic several hundred years of nastily entwined family history, plus a ghostly plague of hunger, and some tall tales. American mythology. While the last 100 or so pages got a bit muddled, it's still worth it, as Boyle always is. When people name the best writers working today, Boyle is on my list. High on it. I can't think of anyone else who reinvents himself so successfully from book to book and story to story. Each time, it's like...more
Seán
Historical fiction with heft, trundling over more than three hundred years of Hudson River upper class oppression and, more importantly, individual acts of self-destruction. Van Wartville is kind of like a hybridization of Rensselaerswyck and Cortlandt Manor, of the Van Rensselaers and Van Cortlandts. The Arcadia and its folk singer champion are obvious foils of Pete Seeger and the Clearwater. One of the most gripping historical renderings is of the 1949 Peekskill riots, where the outpouring of...more
John
I grew up at the foot of Storm King mountain. I spent my youth hiking its hills, sitting on it's cliffs and looking over the mighty Hudson River across to Breakneck ridge, just a few miles away from World's End. There was something special about the region that you feel as a child but can't fully grasp until later in life. In the decade and a half since moving away, i find myself forever drawn back to the mid hudson valley...either in dreams, thoughts, stories. My soul is attached to the river a...more
P.Sannie
Oct 18, 2009 P.Sannie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to P.Sannie by: Wayne Surber
The story opens up in the late 1960s with Walter Van Brunt, a 20-something year old who sees ghosts and had a motorcycle accident that caused him to lose his foot. He attempts to find out what happened to his father and why his father abandoned him.

T.C. Boyle then switches between Walter's story in the present, Walter's Dutch ancestors in colonial America before the English took over, and sometimes goes into the story of the Communist raids in the 1950s. The entire novel plays out in upstate New...more
Judy
I read this book a long time ago, probably not too long after it came out in 1990. It was back in my dreary days trying to eke out a living working as an office temp and a substitute teacher in Columbus, Ohio. Seeing as how I didn't have much money, the Grandview Public Library provided much of my entertainment.

I gave this book four stars because I can still remember it 20 years later. It's the story of the Hudson Valley in New York, switching back and forth between the settlers in the seventee...more
Allison
I found this book on the bookshelf in the furnished house I'm renting in the Netherlands. The subject matter was of immediate interest being that I had just lived in upstate NY for 10 years and recently moved to the Netherlands. Reading about early Dutch settlers in the Hudson Valley was mind-bending, helped ease some of my ex-pat culture shock and made me smile every time I understood a Dutch word or phrase used in the book.

I just visited the Open Air Museum in Arnhem where fully furnished his...more
Christopher Rex
TC Boyle is a very talented writer, without question. This is one of those books I wish I had picked up with a lot of time on my hands so that I could plow straight through it in just a few sittings. The plot jumps around across a 300+ year time-frame and has many (many) characters, which demands constantly referring back to the "List of Characters" at the beginning. Thankfully said "List of Characters" exists, or I think I might have become annoyed/lost. It is not a book you can read a little,...more
Jenny
This was an epic tale shifting back and forth between Western Mass in the 1970s and the same region 300 years previous. It tracks the journeys of three families: one family of poor farmers (having fled the Netherlands) who live on the estate of the 2d, wealthy family, and a 3d quietly surviving Native American family. The struggles of the poor family seem severe and harsh, but light when compared to that of the Native American lineage. The wealthy family has it's own pains, but again, the compar...more
Charles Morgan
Jan 26, 2013 Charles Morgan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of TC Boyle and Pynchon
IMHO, it's TC Boyle's best work. Amazing in scope (sheer number of characters has it's own reference index), poignant in prose and story telling, and extremely entertaining. Highly recommended if you like this author, and if you prefer his earlier work (I do)then this is Boyle at the height of his considerable powers. At times, yes, the story drags a little. However, the way characters from centuries apart become interlinked is nothing short of brilliant. Water Music is close to this work in she...more
Al
The book deals with the intertwined lives of several Dutch and Indian families in Upper Westchester County. Flipping back and forth in time from the late seventeenth century to the twentieth century, it illuminates the relationships between the aristocrats, the lower class whites and the Indians. Primarily, however, it's a rumination on the various ways that fathers pursue their own foolish ideals and fantasies, and in the process, fail their children. Inspirational, it's not. But if you enjoy...more
Ann
I guess I like it. At least I finished reading the book with some slight scimming here and there. Past to present history of three families living in the Hudson River valley. Native American, wealthy Dutch patroon and a tenant farming family. Having boated on the Hudson for many years from the Spyten Duyvel to Lake George, we have heard of many of the legends recounted in this book. But the book is dark- none of the families escape from or learn much from their history and keep the accrued pain...more
Ryan
T.C. Boyle is a great reader's author without being pulpy. I've loved many of his books, but this one has so far been my favorite (_Tortilla Curtain_ is a close second, and _Drop City_ and enjoyable third).

It's a disjointed epic spanning many centuries along the Hudson River Valley and surrounding areas. There are lots of characters, and lots of time shifts between chapters, but Boyle is able to tie it all together into a great story about the oft-untold colonial influence in our own country, in...more
Beth
Now that Pete Seeger has passed it seems like a good time to reread this novel set in the Hudson Valley and featuring, among other characters based on historical eminences, one that is clearly modeled on Pete Seeger himself.
Elizabeth
So I thought the prose was quite well written and I enjoyed the story itself, but the characters seemed so flat. Every man was either a capitalist or a communist and every woman was either a madonna or a whore, and nothing more, no one seemed truly individual. Every character in the 1960s portion was simply an echo of someone from the 1600s section. I understand the theme is something like you can't escape history, but hardly any of these people even have believable motivations for their actions...more
Shovelmonkey1
Dec 24, 2010 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Another fairly typical offering from Boyle, but enjoyable none the less. I enjoyed the interwoven story of the main families (the Van Brunts, the Van Warts, the Mohonks and the Cranes) and the way the book was presented made it enjoyable without pushing the fact that you were actually reading a traditional family saga. I did enjoy the 17th century element of the book better than the more modern parts of the story but thats just the historian in me. A good read indeed but not one of my favourite...more
Margie
Aug 03, 2012 Margie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margie by: Mary Jo
Shelves: fiction
"Fate!" he shouted suddenly. "Doom! History! Don't you see?"

This quote from one of the last chapters of the book sums up the whole book for me. Boyle is certainly a master wordsmith, but his use of symbolism and repetition, and his focus on a few themes (as listed above) felt completely overdone and a bit forced.

I look forward to reading his short stories, which I think I'll like better.
Becky
This book is spectacular, but it really requires your undivided attention to realise it. Telling the story of multiple generations of dutch families in the Hudson Valley of New York, it's a huge mish mash of similar sounding names and flits between periods like no man's business. While this structure meant it wasn't quite ideal vacation reading, I was fully absorbed for multiple 4 hour plus road trips, and by the end couldn't put the book down.

The story is a tale of weakness and history, of lor...more
Laurel Turner
This books is a grittier version of magical realism. It deals with life's grimmest aspects, our worst moments as human beings and how we punish and destroy ourselves for them. I really loved reading this book even though, or perhaps because I experienced pain and even found myself shouting out loud as the characters are bloodied and beaten and broken through generation after generation.
I love the themes that he carries throughout the book, the relationship of father to son, the physical loss of...more
Denise
I read this book because it was given to me several years ago, and time after time I have passed it up because I was immediately confused after the first 3 chapters. This is primarily due to the structure of the book - how T.C. Boyle jumps from one time period to the next, and as all the characters are somewhat related (or have incredibly similar names), I was often lost. However, once you get the hang of the flow of this book, it's easier to read.

I'd have to say I was fairly disappointed. Sever...more
Blair
I love Boyle, from the moment I first picked up The Women. I'm torn about this book - it was a good read, I got into it, I wanted to know what had happened with Truman. I enjoyed the way he told the story in snippets between past and present. Even with the slew of characters, it was easily followed and he kept all the strands going, while deftly weaving them together. And as always, his prose draws me in and his vocabulary impresses me every time.

On the other hand, I felt like there were a lot o...more
Brian Storms
I have read a large number of Boyle's books, loved most of them and put a few away unfinished. World's End is written in the multi-generational style of historical fiction that I am a big sucker for. And it addresses a few societal and personal themes that I really enjoy: class disparity, nihilism vs interpersonal dependence, feudal life in colonial America and early folk singer populism in the second half of the 20th century. Boyle manages to paint a fun story amidst these themes, or multiple s...more
Philip Lane
I suspect that this is a well written story. However it is so intricate and with so many characters over a number of centuries that it has a list of characters at the beginning. If I was studying the book then maybe I would have set about it in a very different manner but I was just wanting a good read. The subject matter was of interest to me but I just found it too complex and thus a real grind to get through it. The characters are connected across the generations and have similar if not ident...more
S.A.
Miserable, horrid, weak characters abounded. Most of them you would order out of your house. An amazing amount of plot devises were used to move along the story line which swung between the 1960's and 1690's.

Still, the great writing and sheer joy of reading the words kept me moving through the book. Unlike other books I have enjoyed by this author, I can't say I'll ever read this book again, but the book performed hard enough to captivate my imagination. This book offered me the joy of word smi...more
Marsha
Boyle is quickly one of my favorite writers. He is a master storyteller and the writing is just a joy. This novel reminds me of Erdrich's The Last Report of the Miracle at Little No Knee, a novel where Erdrich is at her best, both taking place at least in part as settlers arrived in America and became entwined with the Native Americans. Both books speak to the settler as well as Native American's viewpoint. This book has few female characters and those are in supportive role. Didn't matter. Anot...more
Vichy
I should feel richer in language use after reading this giant of linguistic diversity. Yet, I 'm feeling numb and unable to cope with 300 years of family tragedies but admiring the embroidering marvel of the writer. How did he manage to surface all this drama with such sarcasm, touching such sensitive matters as the rights of the native or the devastating march of feudal civilization and personalising the arising problems by uncovering the intermixed relationships and history of 4 families throu...more
Conroywt
It was funny, but could have used condensing. His use of exaggeration for humor kept the tone light and readable throughout but I didn't find enough substance throughout the novel to warrant the 500 pages. Some of that problem was allayed by the switching back and forth between time periods, and the drawing of connections between the history of each family and the history of the land. He expertly ended sections in way that would answer one question but ask two more, then he would switch to a dif...more
Ross
Confession: I picked up this book--literally--it was being sold by some guy on a sidewalk--because Ted mentioned it as his favorite book on How I Met Your Mother. So, I guess I got what I deserve. I thought the constant switch between the view points of characters, from colonial times through the 1960s, was interesting, and the colonial stories were pretty cool, but the parts from the 1960s were filled with all that self-love, grandiose hippy b.s. that usually makes me want to put a gun in my mo...more
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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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