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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,491 ratings  ·  96 reviews
T. C. Boyle is one of the most inventive and wickedly funny short story writers at work today. Over the course of twenty-five years, Boyle has built up a body of short fiction that is remarkable in its range, richness, and exuberance. His stories have won accolades for their irony and black humor, for their verbal pyrotechnics, for their fascination with everything bizarre ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by Penguin (Non-Classics) (first published December 1993)
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4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,491 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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Michael Shilling
Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all who enjoy pleasure
Christ this guy is good. I think what I love most about Boyle is his ability to inspire hatred in MFA students/grads I know -- of which there are many -- who I am forced to conclude are afraid of risk in story and blood, sweat, and tears on the page. These stories either work perfectly and soar into the big fucking blue or go down in a blaze of glory, but either way they jump off the page and kick righteous narrative ass. He must be doing something right. No wait he's actually doing almost every ...more
Jun 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
When approaching Boyle, start with stories. They're stronger than the novels, and the variety is wonderful.
Lisa A
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Best/funniest/most humorous short story writer on the planet. My friend Mark and I became obsessed with him last summer and read tons of T.C. Boyle stories aloud to each other all summer long. Excellent for silent reading too. :) My personal faves in this collection include: "56-0" and the first story of the collection (name which I can't recall), which is about a body condom. Hmph. Some reviewer I am!
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This one comes in at nearly 700 pages. That's a lot of short stories. Boyle tosses out similes and metaphors with a flair unparalleled, juicing up his descriptions and his general story telling with cinematic zeal.
It amazes me, sometimes, that the whole feel of a good story can be whittled down so fine that it takes up so little space for the telling while keeping its subtlest essence.
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this fucker drops similes and metaphors where i have to close the book, close my eyes, and ask myself, "did he really just say that?" Sorry Fugu and The Human Fly are two of my favorite stories ever
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Quite simply the best collection of short fiction in one volume that I have ever read.
Zack Bean
Feb 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Maybe this should get 5 stars -- it's really several collections compiled together in a cheap edition. A great addition to the bookshelves of any Boyle fan.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-authors
My absolute favorite!
Steve Petkus
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
T.C. Boyle amazes because he is not only a prolific short story writer--one of astounding range and fearlessness--but ALSO a prolific novelist. Pick just one of those genres and he has enough works to match the output of most other authors; then you realize he has that in TWO genres, and you just kind of fall silent for a bit. This nearly 700-page volume (1998) contains the first four short story collections plus some new stories. I have to say, it contains enough truly excellent stories to make ...more
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This 700 page volume is quite extensive but it's major flaw is also in some ways it's best asset and that is just that Boyle is sort of all over the place. He ventures into the heads of people all over the US and beyond, traveling into the head of a Russian, and a Norseman in Ireland. He takes you to Spain and to Mexico. At the same time, though the variety is nice and makes for a more interesting read overall, one can't help wondering why Boyle didn't stick with what he knew best.

In any case,
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
With his dry wit and vivid imagination, T.C. Boyle is among my favorite short story writers. But be forewarned. Boyle’s work is not for everyone as it’s filled with dark humor and scathing irreverence. A good example is the shocking story “Drowning” which Boyle himself referred to as “offensive on many levels.” Boyle once described a workshop led by John Cheever where Cheever defended “Drowning” against “an onslaught of classmate rancor.” So if you decide to take this ride, strap yourself in tig ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Reprinting Boyle's first four volumes of short stories into one big book (as well as seven additonal stories, two of which had never been printed before), this collection runs the gamut from hilarious to heartbreakingly real. This collection not only proves that T. C. Boyle is a master novelist but a modern master of the short story as well.

My only problem with this book has othing to do with Boyle's abilities or the content of the stories therein. It's a sequencing issue. The book is divided in
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Desert island book alert! This might be the book I have the most heart invested in.
I've officially read all of the stories in this collection at least once. Sigh. I loved every word. The only complaint I would have on just a few of these stories would be that they aren't long enough. I'm just amazed how fully detailed that Mr. Boyle can make the world of each story. And some of those stories I'd just like even more details. But as a reader, you can just dive into a full world and it's all there
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This large and very aptly named collection of short fiction is actually quite amazing. For sheer scope and quality from a single author, I don't believe I've read anything to match it. Divided into three sections - Love, Death, And Everything in Between - it offers up something for every palate. I first read this collection shortly after its release and was impressed, if not with the whole then certainly with parts. Reading it again, I am much more impressed. The bottom line is that Boyle knows ...more
Duke Cullinan
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring. I'm a writer and this book has changed my life. By the time I was three or four stories in, I was kicked in the ass. This is how you f'n' do it. T.C. Boyle gets into it with abandon, irreverence, and superb craft. He just makes it exciting, whether it's an ancient Mexican baseball player, or a frustrated and beleaguered chef, or a sea captain in the Arctic.

My first T.C. Boyle was The Road To Wellville. Laughing out loud for real. He is a visceral writer. I enjoy that he's not afraid o
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anybody
I have always preferred Boyle's short fiction to his novels. This is a fine collection covering several books' worth of short stories, including personal favorites like Sorry Fugu, The Hector Quesidilla Story, Miracle at Ballyspittle, Stones in My Passway (Hellhound on My Trail) and Drowning, the fight over which consumed two seminars in grad school and pretty much singlehandedly earned me top marks for the course. Hector Quesidilla is, btw, my all-time favorite baseball fiction. I have an audio ...more
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I only read two of the short stories in this anthology, both were unsatisfying for different reasons. Carnal Knowledge is about this guy who gets involved with the extreme animal rights movement after randomly meeting and sleeping with a woman heavily involved in the scene. He ends up breaking into and releasing turkeys from a free range operation to fit in with the group and in the end his "love" decides to move to another state with a possible other lover to work on other protests. The flow an ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The imagination and creativity of this writer knows no bounds, as the diverse range of short stories in this collection shows. He is as adept at showcasing the subtle emotions of his characters as expounding on invasive species, extinctions and ecological disasters. While most of the stories take place in America, those set in more exotic locations like India, and period pieces (pre-20th century) are also very convincing. The author's sense of humor tends towards the darker side and is oblique, ...more
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I started reading T.C. Boyle's short stories and was immediately impressed. This is a huge collection and I doubt I'll read all of it. Unfortunately, I was then moved to start reading his Tortilla Curtain, which was a complete turn off. He heaps contempt on one of the two main characters, and the bile was just more than I could take. Having read a number of book reviews about this book (probably a mistake), I know that the book continues more or less in the same vein. My overall impression was, ...more
Apr 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Mitch Oldani
This is a collection of short stories from throughout T.C. Boyle's writing career. I just reread my favorite stories again and I highly recommend this book. The stories pluck at the loose threads in your social construction of reality making you question every grey area in your consciousness. He slips in aspects of the supernatural in way that is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman in, American Gods>. Some of the stories are so subtle in their effect that you don’t realize they have disturbed you unti ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Boyle's collected stories (his first four collections plus extras) is a massive and overall excellent collection. The stories are for the most part entirely successful, ranging from the hilarious to the horrifying, with just about everything else in between. One of the few contemporary "literary" writers that I really like. Boyle is often sort of like Stephen King by way of Kafka--that should give you some idea of what to expect form some stories, anyway--while having his own decidedly unique an ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite collection of short stories, period. TC Boyle studied under John Irving, Raymond Carver, and John Cheever. Their influence really shines in his short stories, which are, at turns, clever, insightful, haunting, and linguistically transcendent.

Boyle is known for being able to conquer any topic, any idea, and making it his own. Having read these 70 or so stories, I'd have to say the assessment is on target.

Seek out Boyle's short stories, and if you like what you read, then invest in t
Sarah Pascarella
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think the best word to describe this collection is "envy"--it's just not fair that one writer should be so damn talented. Here are nearly 700 pages of glitteringly smart short stories, where Boyle repeatedly finds perfect turns of phrases, witty double entendres, vivid scenery, and fully rendered characters. Even more impressive--with the inclusion of each story's original publication date, the reader realizes he was working on these at the same time as his (also incredible) novels. Gifted and ...more
John Orman
Oct 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This large book collects a lot of Boyle stories--70 of them!
Those are from four previous collections, plus seven new tales.
Love, death, and everything in between is covered.
The stories are a mixed bag of quality and genre--farce, tragedy, erotic, and bizarre.
An example of bizarre would be the story positing a secret love affair between Eisenhower and Nina Kruschev--a definite threat to world stability!

King Bee story was mighty scary!
I liked the Hector Quesadilla Story, which describes a basebal
Joel Miller
Oct 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was pretty disappointed with this book. I found the stories to be weak and uninteresting overall: loaded with the kind of clichés you would expect from bad television when it aspires to gritty realism. The author feels really unfamiliar with his characters and the situations in which they live. There is so much material here that you wonder if he is trading off sheer volume for depth. The best story, Greasy Lake has some elements of suspense which keep you interested but it seems as though he ...more
Naomi V
Nov 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
i finished it! this was my occasional-reading book. short stories that i could pick up from time to time and read a story or two. it took a really long time to get through all 704 pages in this way, but i enjoyed every story. some of my favorites were about a group of wasted losers who had a very unusual reaction to the non-stop blood raining from the sky; so much blood that it caused a bloody flood...the chef on jacques cousteau's ship who was tired of cooking fish fish fish. many of his storie ...more
Judith Shadford
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
The first dozen or so stories were terrific. Then they sort of sagged, ultimately reading became a chore. One after another well-crafted and in John Gardner's word, frigid, stories about losers who lose. I longed for Eudora Welty's ability to describe the poor, downtrodden, psychotic and still show respect. Boyle, as the cover review from the NYTimes says--"700 flashy, inventive pages of stylistic and moral acrobatics." Not a compliment, I think.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Boyle is without a doubt my favorite contemporary writer. I was first introduced to his short stories in various publications, and have read them all, and gone on to read all but two of his novels (I'm getting to them). His short stories are fabulous. Biting satire, memorable characters, and engaging prose. I've you've never read Boyle, my suggestion is to pick up this book and read "Greasy Lake" or "Hopes Rise." If you're not immediately hooked, Boyle might not be for you.
Antonio De la rosa
Jul 06, 2014 marked it as to-read
Short stories. Good rhythm. The moral view of things of the reader gets stretched to the point of actually feeling something. Funny. Desolated. Cruel sometimes. Superbly written, any and all of the tales.

And yet I was often tempted to give up and leave it unread. Too much of the good stuff I guess. Too much fertility on display.
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
I've been slogging through this since the second week in January, and I'm finally accepting that it's just not happening. It's not that he isn't a completely brilliant writer. Some of these stories will remain with me the rest of my life. But the themes just got repetitive after so long. Great writer, but this collection could honestly be half the length and be more effective.
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T. Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published seventeen novels and eleven collections of 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 Distinguished Professor of English at the ...more
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