Tuesday, January 10, 2012

World's End, by T.C. Boyle

I found this book fantastic, which unfortunately means that I won't have too much to say about it. I find that I have tons to say about books I disliked, and not that much for those I liked.

World's End follows three families in upstate New York through three time periods - the 1680s, the 1920s, and the 1960s. Our protagonists either behave extremely badly - every married character save one, by my count, is having an affair - or are nice people to whom terrible things happen (maiming, eviction, affairs). It was hard to muster up sympathy much of the time, and yet I couldn't wait to see what happened next, and adored Boyle's writing style, and definitely am going to check out more of his books.

The line between unexpectedly good, heavily-metaphored writing, and pretentiousness, is a very fine one. This book won the PEN/Faulkner Award, and I have previously read books which also did and which read like my mercifully-soon-abandoned college attempts at imitating Faulkner (best example is The Mercy Seat, by Rilla Askew - it is very bad indeed). I can't really articulate why Boyle stays on the good side of that line, because occasionally his language does get too much, and he's dealing with dicey subjects like mystic Native Americans and ghost sightings and such. And yet it works. He balances it.

So, yeah. Don't have much more than that, but I highly recommend it, and am very glad that he's as prolific a writer as he is. Finding a writer you like and realizing there are ten-plus novels out there by that writer is a delicious feeling.

Next up: Yellow Lies, by Susan Slater.

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