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After the Plague: and Other Stories

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,440 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Hailed as one of the best short story writers of his generation, T.C. Boyle presents sixteen stories--nine of which appeared in The New Yorker--that highlight the evolving excellence of his inventive, modern, and wickedly witty style. In After the Plague, Boyle exhibits his maturing themes through an amazing array of subjects in a range of emotional keys. He taps today's h ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Penguin Books (first published September 10th 2001)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  1,440 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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Jul 07, 2009 rated it liked it
This past Saturday night I was reading “My Widow”, a story in TC Boyle’s After the Plague, just before bed. My wife was reading across the room and two of my three sons were asleep in the next room (the oldest was blowing shit up on the beach with one of his friends). Wind blew in through the skylights and I considered turning on the air conditioner. Earlier Ross and I sat in the dark living room watching the Brewers game and drinking Red Stripes. I had to ask myself, “why am I reading one of th ...more
Sarah Dorothea
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-for-school
4.5 out of 5 stars! ⭐️ It was my first T.C. Boyle read and I LOVED IT! These short stories are so great and so timeless at the same time. I loved how he dealt with different political, social and ethical topics. His writing style is very unique, but that‘s what makes reading the short stories so special. Definitely not gonna be my last book by T.C. Boyle. 💗📚

What the short stories are about: T.C. Boyle presents sixteen stories--nine of which appeared in The New Yorker--that highlight the evol
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Grade A short stories. Very dark.
Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
T.C. Boyle has to be my favorite author. I just read this book of short stories while riding the subway to and from work. Heartbreakingly beautiful. He doesn't hold back. Characters in his stories express the urges we don't want to admit to having.

And even though they are short stories you get the sense of a person's whole lifetime in each short snapshot. I'm in love with Boyle for the very fact that he would break my heart.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another in the writing school of a slow poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Each story starts with some sort of emotional car wreck about to happen, and the story slows down to rubberneck the uncomfortable denouement. Boyle's characters seem to start out as likeable sorts, all with a tiny flaw or two that gets exposed through the run of events. Will they prevail over the challenge, or will their foibles get the better of them? And do I have to watch?

Argh. I do.

Kudos to him for putting "After t
May 30, 2007 rated it liked it
A good writer who desperately wants you to know just how good he is, and how many big words he knows. This type of thing tends to distract one from his considerable storytelling skills. I did learn from this book that the word "sere" means "dry", allowing me to proclaim, as a hilarious, highbrow, and technically inaccurate joke, that I need to put the clothes in the serer for a few more minutes. "Sere" has also helped me with Boggle. Otherwise, this is a hit or miss collection with a few stories ...more
The narrator of this book made every story sound angery and annoyed so this may have been the reason my view of the stories are so negetive.

It wasn't that they were anticlimactic it's just that he ends it right at the climactic moment it gives the disappointment like the moment before a sneeze and yet the sneeze never comes.

After every story I feel like saying "and then..."
Alger Smythe-Hopkins
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Granted, T.C. Boyle is a damn fine author. What I discovered in this collection though is a writer who is fluid and on message delivering some incredibly nasty tasting stories.
What is it about Boyle, short fiction, and abusive relationships? His longer form fiction often has dysfunctional relationships, broken relationships, and a few happy couples, but this collection is packed with rapes and drunks and drugs and sudden violence that stands in for narrative, motive, and character.
I really real
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Given our current crisis, I turned right to the cover story. The story followed a survivor of a global pandemic which wiped out all but a very few. He finally meets in a woman who also escaped. What happens when the only person you meet is someone you can't stand to be around? ...more
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Not a big fan of short stories; however, I enjoyed reading almost all of these.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Another stunning story collection by Boyle. He hasn't failed me yet... with even a single unenjoyable story in the first five collections. I must admit that this one is so far my least favorite of the five collections, as he focuses on modern humans with this collection rather than the environment. What makes this collection less enjoyable, is that in almost every story, the focus is on really really dark spirited humans. Or simply some of the darkest moments in mostly decent people. Not sunny r ...more
Larry Bassett
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, short-stories
There is a big book titled TC Boyle Stories II. That is the book I have had on my bookshelf for a while. But I have just recently discovered that it is really made up of four other books. I discovered that accidentally when I found one of the books in an audible format. And then I discovered the other books also in an audible format. And no I am finally listening to them. This book has a bit of a theme that is revealed by the title of the book. It is kind of a gloomy theme about peoples struggle ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like a first bag of vinegar chips. You have a handful / read one or two stories and think, "who could possibly enjoy this, when it's so sour / bleak and hopeless?". Then you have / read a bit more, and the next thing you know, the bag / book is finished. (Let me be clear, though: I do not recommend having chips, or food in general, WHILE reading this book. There are a few scenes that really don't work with popcorn.) Boyle's characters aren't nice, and nice things don't happen to the ...more
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
T.C. Boyle is an excellent writer. He draws the reader into the story generally in the quirky uniqueness of the store line. However, the endings are usually anti-climatic and resolve little (maybe, that is a failing of the short story genre) Suggesting the complexity of people or life situations and relationship may be the point of view of the author, but this existential trope does not carry the same weight as it did before in serious writing. Boyle's other short stories collections are similar ...more
Liam Connolly
I read the title short-story in undergrad and thought it'd be a fitting collection to start during lockdown. I took my time with it, and found I enjoyed the stories some but others were just ok. All in all a fun and interesting collection. I got the impression at times that much of the style etc. was geared towards those holding an MFA in Creative Writing... but I take such observation as a sign of clarity on my own writing style and said aspirations. ...more
Colin Grieve
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Very good collection of stories. And to add my own disturbing true story to the fictional ones: the book I read immediately before this, Wuthering Heights, is mentioned on the second page of the first story, and the book I was planning to read next, For Whom the Bell Tolls, is mentioned on the second last page of the last story. T.C. Boyle if you read this, the idea is all yours.
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Never have I ever thought it would be TC Boyle's anthology that would be my first book read after weeks long of non-reading due to being busy and somewhat low mood.
And to think that it's a series of dark and depressing stories that jumpstarted me should say a lot about my recent mood. XD
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I prefer stories with a little more definitive ending.
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the stories take place in a wide variety of settings and situations, they still hit a lot of similar notes--protagonists made helpless by their own inaction and/or laziness.
Gardar Arnason
This is a collection of very enjoyable short stories.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing, masterly, exceptional...
Chris Farmer
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant short stories!
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Can‘t write a review yet. Was my first T. C. Boyle read. And I’m impressed. Still trying to understand why exactly.
Jeffrey Howard
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Some solid short stories in here.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, cbr-9
I have been a fan of T.C. Boyle for the past few years. I first read "Tortilla Curtain" in 2011, and followed that up a few years later with "Drop City." Boyle has a distinctive voice, cutting and dour, but also reflective. His examination of topics through, and he tackles tough subjects and places characters into situations of existential crisis with almost a relish. His books cover hard topics and hardened people, often in hopeless situations, but his writing forgives him for taking you down s ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best collections of short stories I've read. Darkly humorous, cynical, and absurdly humanistic. ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A somewhat bombastic collection of character sketches and scenes of said characters making (mostly) terrible decisions of one type or another. Boyle comes highly recommended from a couple of my coworkers, and I'll definitely be reading more!

A few samples:

"She didn't have to be at work till twelve the next day--she was an assistant to the reference librarian at the university library, and her schedule was so flexible it was all but bent over double." (71)

"He was no longer a freshman at Brown, not
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
My first foray into Boyle-land and I don't think I will return. Some of the stories, especially those in the second half were good stories(saving it from a one-star rating), but what bothered me throughout the entire collection is the misogynistic tendencies of the author. Maybe I should read more from the author before I make the claim, but if this were the only text to go by, I would assume that T.C. Boyle absolutely hates women. (and literary theorists, but that's another tale altogether...) ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I'm a big TCBoyle fan, I recommend him to people and really hope they will try him out. Both Drop City and The Tortilla Curtain are books that stay with you over time, and even though I know so little about the US, I feel as though I have been told a certain truth, about a time and an attitude, by both novels.

There are moments in all these stories of that fierce and funny lucidity, a crisp summing up of sometimes apocalyptic moments, that should make the book un outdo enable. But weirdly, somet
A book full of strong, engaging stories. But far and away the best, I think--and this surprised me, coming from such a master of the fantastic as Boyle--is the very simple, normal, and human "The Love of My Life." It ends with a rhapsodic, Gatsby-esque passage about young love, tempered with the knowledge of all the loss to come... which, thanks to the story's beautiful structure, has already been narrated.

And when they got to where they were going, at the end of that dark lane overhung with tre
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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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