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Inner Circle

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  4,897 ratings  ·  432 reviews
In 1939 on the campus of Indiana University, a revolution has begun. The stir is caused by Alfred Kinsey, a zoologist who is determined to take sex out of the bedroom. John Milk, a freshman, is enthralled by the professor's daring lectures and over the next two decades becomes Kinsey's right hand man. But Kinsey teaches Milk more than the art of objective enquiry. Behind c ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  4,897 ratings  ·  432 reviews

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Dr Kinsey, or Prok as he was known to his overly familiar and very hands-on inner circle was the man who lifted the covers on sex and took a good long hard look, often with the occasional poke or touch also involved. Revered and reviled by post-war American society as both a genius and a deviant he revolutionised the way people think and talk about doing “it”. This was especially significant at a time when most people wouldn’t admit to doing it, never mind thinking about it or talking about it. ...more
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me think about my sexual side in ways I never dreamed of. Boyle understands his protagonist like a true master - when John Milk is anxious about a sexual situation, I am equally nervous. What I found exceptionally impressive about this book is how well Boyle writes the erotic. Despite the blatant opportunity for the events of the story to become gratuitous, the novel is not pornographic in any way. Everything involving sexual subjects - which is pretty much the whole novel - is ha ...more
Aug 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
Fiction. The memoirs of John Milk, assistant and friend to Dr. Alfred Kinsey as he develops the Institute for Sex Research. This is a fairly dry book, which is amazing considering the sheer amount of sex going on, but that's mostly the fault of Milk, our hedging, awkward narrator. Milk is just no fun, though he's got some crazy hero worship for Kinsey. Kinsey is a god to Milk, and to his other assistants, and it's creepy and fascinating and really makes me want to learn more about Kinsey and see ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is NOT the book to read on Melbourne public transport! Believe me you don't want someone peering over your shoulder on the tram or train on this one! This is my first TC Boyle and it's a great read! Boyle combines fact and fiction with the story of Alfred Kinsey's "inner circle" from the point of view of (fictional) John Milk a good looking nerd who gets drawn deeper and deeper in Kinsey's experiments and views on life, marriage, sexuality, to the detriment of his own marriage. The scenes a ...more
Colin Mckenna
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I found myself gliding through the pages, to Boyle's credit - and I am not a fast reader. He has a narrative gift that drew me along despite strongly disliking the two central characters, which almost made me give it a three star. I don't know anything about the real characters so I'll assume he was was stuck with these flawed people. The narrator, John, is such a doormat that even as I think of him stumbling through every - I mean, every - piece of dialogue, it make me want to change the rating ...more
Janine Corman
If you have already seen the film KINSEY, don't bother with this novel, because that's what it is, a novel, told by a fictional narrator who is not worth the imagining of. His name is John Milk and he is a research assistant on the Kinsey project, whose scientific objectivity is constantly at odds with his emotions. This grew tiresome very quickly, as did every character in the book (Kinsey included), with the exception of one character, John's wife, Iris. How I wish Boyle had alternated the nar ...more
I sort of hate to give this only three stars, but the rating hinges to some extent on whether or not you've seen the movie Kinsey, which I have and which covers much of the same ground. I'm not opposed to Boyle's leanings toward the historical novel. They've produced great results, as with Riven Rock, but that was a book that transcended its subject, becoming just as much about a genre of literature (social realism) as about its more obvious topic. The Inner Circle doesn't so much do that--or, i ...more
Bob Brinkmeyer
3.5 Stars

My GR friends might recall that I am practicing German by reading fiction in German, sometimes by German writers, sometimes by writers whose work has been translated into German. It’s usually determined by what I have my hands on since my local library has no German shelf. A few years ago, on one of my many trips to NYC, which always included an obligatory trip to the Strand bookstore, I found a number of T. C. Boyle’s novels in the German section. Given how many were on the shelf, I’m
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who are not "sex shy"

This is one sexy novel!! Be advised that you may feel aroused while reading it and chronically horny in between the hours spent reading. It is a fictional account of the years leading up to and immediately following the publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Dr Alfred Kinsey in 1948.

I don't think many people heard the term "open marriage" until the 1970s. In fact, American views on sexuality remained conservative, Puritan and repressive until the "sexual revolution" and "free love"
Jan 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a bore! Kinsey and sex, a bore? In spades! Boyle takes some facts of Kinsey’s research and life (how much is impossible to say just from reading this book) and heaps upon it mounds of blather about the growing sexual perversities of Kinsey’s research team (the inner circle) and their wives. Perhaps he intended some sort of metaphorical or allegorical story, but if so, it missed me. The only explicit sex occurs in the context of their field work, and it is clinically described, sometimes in ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is essentially the story of Professor Kinsey, the famous sex researcher, as told by a young man, who in the late 1930's takes Professor Kinsey's class in college, gets interviewed by him for his now famous sex study, and ends up working alongside Kinsey in his research of human sexuality. The inner circle consists of Prok (Professor Kinsey), his wife, Mac, and the young men who join him in his research, as well as their wives.
I really want to know how much of this book is based on fact. P
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: T.C. Boyle fans
I loved this novel about Kinsey and his hardworking team. It's written from the perspective of Kinsey's first worker bee, the young, innocent John Milk. Besides all the shocking doings of Kinsey's inner circle, the book includes John's love story, which makes it intimate and poignant, and ultimately unforgettable. I love T.C. Boyle's writing, and this one surely doesn't disappoint! ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always happy to turn to a new TC Boyle book when looking for my next read. He goes into the reading as one of my favorite authors, and he doesn’t disappoint. The Inner Circle is another in a collection of novels about real-life characters and how they might have interacted with their environment, socially and physically, when they were famous. Over the years I have become a big fan of the historical novel. Boyle always approaches his from a somewhat different angle from the typical historical no ...more
John Milk, a trusted researcher in Kinsey's inner circle, details his sexual awakening, and his struggle to balance his role as a husband and father alongside the prurient, and at times, amoral research environment. ...more
Steve Shilstone
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Boyle's fictional narrator is a member of actual sex researcher and all around strange fellow Alfred Kinsey's team. The ick factor is strong. ...more
Sam Quixote
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The work of Alfred Kinsey is explored through a fictitious narrator, John Milk, who is there for the first lecture Kinsey gives on sex and soon after becomes involved in the sex research that will form Kinsey's legacy and change the world. But life in the inner circle is far different from the life presented to the media...

T.C. Boyle's novel is an excellent look into one of the 20th century's most interesting and important thinkers/scientists, someone who brought sex from the shadows and shame a
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve been a fan of T.C. Boyle for a while – and I’m interested in the subject of psychology in general. So clearly, when I realized that “The inner circle” is something of a biography of Professor Alfred C. Kinsey, my interest was raised.

Professor Kinsey has been one of the first scientists to do intensive research in sex, human sexual activities and relations. While he was originally a zoologist, he believed that there was no logic in humans knowing more about the sex life of gall wasps than th
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads
Though fictionalized, this is a true account of Alfred Kinsey and his team of researchers who interviewed people from all walks of life about their sexual practices for the, eventual, Kinsey Report. The narrator, a young college student, John Milk, was totally committed to Professor Kinsey, nicknamed Prok, and became indoctrinated into Prok's way of thinking, as was the rest of Prok's inner circle. If you have the option of reading this book on a kindle or tablet that allows you to access defini ...more
I love Boyle's books, usually, and was very disappointed in this one. I also love Kinsey's sex response research, such a thorough and devoted worker, but somehow what was learned got buried in the trivia of the narrative. I expected too much of Boyle perhaps, wanting him to show us the total Kinsey and the effects of his pioneering research. Although we get partial views (e.g. Kinsey as a homosexual, a maker of rugs, a man of many interests), Kinsey just didnt come alive, nor did I get a good fe ...more
Feb 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I like T.C. Boyle a lot, although I know he's not to everyone's taste, as I have found when I have given his books as gifts to family and friends. But I like how un-politically correct he is and appreciate his originality. This book drew me in finally. At first, it seemed mostly a curiosity, although the writing was very fine, and I always enjoy a book when the writing is very fine. But what I love about this book, so sly and witty of him, is how T.C. Boyle embeds in this story of the megalomani ...more
Jul 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love T.C. Boyle! This author's true art is in taking characters you really could care less about and captivating you emotionally and mentally with their stories. This one takes place during the "Kinsey" era of research and is wonderfully written and interesting. ...more
Dee wise
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. I still want to research Kinsey to see how much this book is based on fact. Timely since I just finished watching most of the TV series, "Masters of Sex" about Masters & Johnson. Good read! ...more
James Curtin
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
started this when it was first released but never finished it. did get to see him do a reading at smu in dallas. started it again and finished it at ccp in fall of 2011.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Like Drop City, this book was a good straight-forward narrative, solid writing and no fancy linguistic tricks, just good meat and potatoes story-telling. It seems like he did quite a bit of research for this historical fiction and it really gives you a feeling for what it must have been like working for someone as intense and eccentric as good ole Dr. Kinsley at a time when studying sex in general was pretty heavy business. The degree to which he captures the emotional range of the central chara ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Slagle Rock
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterful storytelling. So much done right here, this book almost defies the need for review. I was completely taken into the world of first-person, and fictional it should be noted, narrator John Milk and his all-encompassing experience working as an assistant to famed sexologist Alfred Kinsey.
It was like traveling back to mid-Century middle America every time I opened this gem of a novel. There are many issues examined and many ways one could come at this book. Though it is insufficient, I
Judy Mann
Apr 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An atrocious book about an atrocious piece of sub human shit. Here is where I stopped reading:
To celebrate the hiring of a new researcher all 3 men descend on Kinsey's wife-to screw her.She is not willing.That's right.They all rape her.And shut her up by calling it scientific research.One more chance -at this point I threw the book in the garbage.The three of the researchers are all set to witness one of the "researchers" screw a different woman - who again is not willing. They -the 3 men-just w
Marcia Chocinsky
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent factionalized account of the inner circle of Alfred Kinsey at Indiana University in the sleepy town of Bloomington,IN. Boyle as usual does a fantastic job with character development as well as the evocation of time and place. While I was a child during the 50’s I can see how Kinsey’s work impacted future generations. Boyle manages to keep the project primarily on track as research but the emphasis on sex as it occurred between combinations of co-workers/spouses/subjects can not be avoi ...more
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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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