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Budding Prospects: A Pastoral

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,363 ratings  ·  165 reviews
All Felix Nasmyth and friends have to do is harvest a crop of Cannabis Sativa...
...and half a million tax-free dollars will be theirs. But they haven't reckoned on nosy Northern California-style neighbors, torrential rain, demands of the flesh, and Felix's improbable new love, a wayward sculptress on whose behalf he undertakes a one-man vendetta against a drug-busting stat
Paperback, 326 pages
Published 1993 by Penguin Books (first published 1984)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  2,363 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The constant challenge of modern relationships: how to prove more interesting than the other's smartphone" - Alain de Botton. I guess this applies to books too. I found it hard to focus on T.C.Boyle's merry simile and metaphor laden prose. The writing was brilliant. My smartphone was always beside me, trying to distract my attention from this wonderful book. But it was not a complete hindrance. The book is filled with obscure mythological, historical and pop culture references. And not to menti ...more
Tiffany Conner
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A man I used to have sex with in California recommended this book to me. One sublime post-coital morning I noticed that his bookshelves were well populated with Boyle's books. I told the man that I'd never read any of Boyle's work.

"Here," the man said. "Start with this one."

At first I thought he'd given me the book because he knew I was an avid pot smoker. But then I grew hopeful that he meant for the book to have some symbolic meaning. As in, our pairing was its own "budding prospect." That w
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, crime-noir
Probably read this more than a dozen times now, still one of my all-time favorite books. Don't let the pastoral part of the title fool you. These guys are farming pot. It's crime. Also picaresque. Maximalist word-play. ...more
Lola Estelle
Sep 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This was kooky and funny and better than I expected, albeit painfully outdated in terms of illegal marijuana and far too many descriptions of women's breasts. (No one's breasts "gently sway" when they walk, come on man). I can forgive its nineteen-eighties-ness but I cannot forgive the constant use of the word "grin" -- I LOATHE the word "grin" and it's in this book around 100 times. Nonetheless, a pretty good read. ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
SCENE: prolix protagonist Felix Nasmyth adventures into the local County Sheriff's Department in order to bail out a detained comrade. Unfortunately, our hero soon finds himself en agua caliente...

...If the stereotypical desk sergeant is loose of jowl, corpulent, balding and noncommunicative, the man I encountered at the Sheriff's Department didn't break any new ground. A cardboard container of coffee steamed on the counter before him, his eyes were as puffed as a prizefighter's, and his loose j
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The narrative voice of this novel is so playful that I read most sentences with a smile on my face. At the end of each paragraph I’d have to stop and massage my aching sides and wipe tears of laughter from my eyes. I’ve heard that Boyle’s tone has become darker and more cynical over the years. I am interested in these darker books and will read some of them soon. But, as an introduction to his style, I am glad that I started with one of first books. Pure, delightful comedy. It’s going on the fav ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this wacky story about a bunch of lovable losers trying to make their fortune growing pot in northern California (Humboldt?). Very funny.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant writing, exceptionally entertaining, a plot best described as "if it can go wrong it will" and a familiar setting to me, Northern Calif. You gotta love T.C. Boyle's way of telling a story! ...more
Jim Howell
Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
It's a coming of age story for thirty-year-old stoners. I wanted to like this more than I did. It was a fun read and one that I got through rather quickly once I got into to story. I haven't looked, but it is one of those books that is bound to have the phrase "Rollicking Tale" in at least one of the blurbs on the back cover. Plot-wise the protagonist begins a pot farm in California, paranoia, lies, binges, and outrageous situations ensue. We have bad cops and sinister characters and a seemingly ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it
A few years back I read The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle and loved every 5 star bit of it, so when I came across another Boyle book at a used book sale I of course snatched it up. Ugh! Good thing I read Tortilla Curtain first or I would not have bothered.

Budding Prospects, written in 1984 is about the quest for easy money, sex, drugs, and booze but is really about bad decision-making of the less evolved gender. Felix and his loser friends find themselves as the caretakers of a pot farm in Nor
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Though, at its base, the novel may seem like a simple story about the misadventures of a group of guys who get caught-up in a pot growing scheme, it quickly becomes apparent that so much more is at work here. Felix's quirky and often hyperbolic first person narration gives the story a mock-epic feel, which, first, makes for some hilarious situations and, second, creates an interesting critique of how we view the problems we face, especially in comparison to how those problems play out in the gra ...more
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all of my chippies
Recommended to Josh by: Tom DeSavia
So 5 stars may seem a little on the chubby-side for a book that is more like an Elmore Leonard/Carl Hiassen-style light-hearted adventure tale, but I had never read a TC Boyle book before, and I haven't been this "into" a book in a really long time. I read the vast majority of it in about 4 days, and then moved, lost it in a box of stuff, became generally disinterested in reading for about a week or 2, then finished it! The writing is beautiful, the characters/situations relatively relatable, an ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I thought if Prop 19 passed, this would be a quaint reminder of the bygone days of prohibition, but since Prop 19 didn't pass, this book may serve as a field guide, cautionary tale, and call to arms for DIY 420ers. A pastoral set in 1970s California about a dude who never finishes anything who goes in with two buddies to solve all his woes by making a big killing clandestinely raising a crop of pot in the mountains of NoCal. As with most Boyle novels, anything that can go wrong for the narrator ...more
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an enormously entertaining story of a self-styled quitter who finally sees something through the end, an illegal and hapless get-rich-quick scheme. The writing is sharp, clever and very, very funny. After reading just this book, I'm now a fan of T.C. Boyle. I should have read this a long time ago when Keith told me to. ...more
Karen Frasier
Feb 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Stuck about half way thorough. I don't care anough about the characters or the events to bother to finish. But it gets 2 stars instead of 1 because Boyle is a good writer. Just not good enough to get me interested in these losers and their dope farm. ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Boring and obvious. Boyle's worst. I had to force myself to finish. I just didn't care about these characters. ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Boyle has the most vivid and creative metaphores and similies. His language alone is worth the read!
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it
While not my highest-rates Boyle novel, in some ways this has paradoxically been my favorite so far. Granted, it is a relatively unsophisticated, template-style plot-driven story. However, there’s a reason that certain plots rise to the popular level of becoming templates. They work. And “Budding Prospects” works too. It works wonderfully. It’s a gripping, suspenseful tale that at times resembles the cheap paperback adventure novels that the main characters read while lounging at the summer camp ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
It was OK but (for me) a couple irritations. We never find out how much money he made, or how much weed they finally ended up with. He leaves before finding out either one, himself, when if he was smart, he would have known to have the money first before running off after his new girlfriend. Since she already sees him as something of a space cadet. And nobody really serious about growing weed would just throw leaf and stems into a fireplace to get rid of it. It's all usable somehow, from tea to ...more
Beth Chapple
Jan 08, 2021 rated it liked it
I am a fan of this author but would have to think hard to come up with who to recommend this one to. I found it a well-written page turner and yet kept thinking of my uncle Steve Chapple and his book Outlaws in Babylon: True Adventures on the Marijuana Frontier, which came out about the same time in the 1980s. Not likeable characters! ...more
Benjamin Treas II
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book! If you enjoy reading dark humor, Budding Prospects is a must read for you. Join Felix and friends for an forgettable joyride. it's one of three books I've stayed up all night to finish reading. (The other two are Hesse's Siddhartha & Kerouac's Dharma Bums.) I've reread Budding Prospects at least 15 times and given countless copies as gifts. The title is a triple entendre, but you'll have to the read to the end to figure out why. No cheating! Need I say more? Dates given below a ...more
Sara Garcia
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is classic T.C. Boyle. If I was going to introduce him as an author to someone who had never read him before and was only going to read one of his books, this would be it. Sticking to his true style and pastoral subject matter, with at least one totally eccentric character, it’s funny yet random and peacefully slow at times while still presenting major obstacles the characters have to overcome. Regardless of how you feel on the subject matter (weed) you’ll find yourself rooting for the ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
i love discovering a new author.
and i love this book. a lot. good pacing, a lot of forward-moving action.
he does 'love' the nature aspect, though, and i see that a lot in his writing, and i'm a bit tired of that aspect (enough with the digging in the mud stuff). But as a writer, i enjoy his talents. (though now that i reread this review, it's not very enthusiastic. i think i liked his collection of short stories SO much that this feels a bit flat by comparison.)
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is worth reading just for the figurative language alone. Boyle is a master at simile and metaphor. A comedy of errors involving three down and outers attempting to harvest a half-million dollars worth of pot in Northern California. The cast of characters is rich, the action hilarious, and the writing incredible.
Justin Tappan
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great writing from Boyle, as usual. A darkly comic tale of bumbling amateur cannabis farmers. As expected, everything that can go wrong, does. A funny, twisting breeze of a read. Kind of weird reading this now, the status of cannabis in the U.S. having both changed so much and somehow not changed at all in the time since this book was published.
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
A prime example of comparative writing, similar to Michael Chabon's work. You want to see the protagonists make lots of money, and one way would be if they had a dollar for every time the author used the word 'like...' in telling their story. Found myself skimming once that trigger word appeared. A good book, not a great one. ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I laughed the entire way through this comedy of errors. I did not really know the premise really at the beginning. Detailed very vaguely, but when I realized the whole part of the book I laughed then might have a bud or two while reading it. His funniest book no matter what people say.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
TC Boyle never fails, although some of his books are more compelling than others. This novel was very good but not a great Boyle effort. The story is a simple one -- a group of people try to grow marijuana in California (back in the day, when all MJ farms were hidden away). The fun/pain is in watching the process unfold, starting with clearing and fencing the fields, figuring out how to irrigate the crops, starting the plants, keeping out interested animals, and tending to the plants during the ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Slacker buddies get together in Willets to make a fortune growing dope. Hilarious and vivid writing, this book from many years back feels current, though legalization has changed the game somewhat.
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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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