Customer Reviews for

The Inner Circle

Average Rating 4
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2004

    A Magnicent Obsession

    TC Boyle is one of the finest storytellers around and his consistent output of never less than fascinating books ('Riven Rock', 'Drop City', 'A Friend of the Earth', 'The Road to Wellville', etc - 10 in all) establishes him as an appropriate novelistic biographer of the life work of Dr Alfred Kinsey. Kinsey's enormously important contribution - THE KINSEY REPORT - to the edification of knowledge of human sexual behavior is well known, well documented, and now even 'playing in a theater near you'. So we have a running start in reading this book. TC Boyle capitalizes on our knowledge of the Sex Doctor to provide the matrix of this elegantly written, attention-consuming novel. Yet in his typical style, Boyle uses fact to create fiction, and in doing so he focuses on the Inner Circle of those dedicated people who spent countless hours touring the country taking individual sexual histories from students, prostitutes, male hustlers, prisoners, known perverts, as well as 'respectable' upper and middle class men and women. Chief among these investigators is the young, naive, intrinsically wholesome, innocent John Milk. By using Milk as the Kinsey-devoted and obsessed narrator Boyle allows us to understand the impact of Kinsey's revolutionary findings on the 'regular citizen'. Opening with a Prologue dated August 25, 1956 and closing with an Epilogue dated August 27, 1956 (creating the time in which Milk is writing memoirs after Kinsey¿s death), John Milk takes us through the period from 1939 to 1953 when he grew to be Kinsey's first and primary assistant. Milk describes not only the unraveling of Kinsey's work, but also the consequences of working with the obsessed biologist. Milk, his new wife Iris, and his coworkers Corcoran and Ruttledge (with their wives) become increasingly involved in the secrets Kinsey uncovers to the point of participating in voyeurism, homosexual affairs with Kinsey, group sex, filmed sex, and wife swapping - including sleeping in a planned manner with Kinsey's wife, Mac. It is this inner circle dynamic that makes THE INNER CIRCLE a fine novel fed by reality, woven by reportage and observation, and written in a flowing graceful manner that defies putting the book down. The book is wisely divided into two parts - 'Biology Hall' (the beginnings of the controversial investigative stage of Kinsey's studies) and 'Wylie Hall' (the headquarters for the burgeoning success of Kinsey's first book on the male and the continued work on his second volume on the female). And that takes care of the scientific side of the story. The overriding theme of the book is a love story - primarily that between John Milk and his bright wife Iris, who struggles with the strains of her husband's obsession with his 'god' Kinsey and always attempts to keep her life with John grounded in love rather than solely in animal behavior. We care about this couple and while we learn a lot about Kinsey (his physiognomy and infamous anatomy, obsessive compulsive behaviors, powers as a public speaker, and near hypnotizing methods of interviewing), he remains an emotional outsider at the end of the day.Boyle has succeeded in enlightening us, in entertaining us, in challenging us - and in achieving yet another fine novel to a career as one of our more important American writers. Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    A decent book but a little confusing

    The book was good but a too much sex for me. Also I find it confusing when real people are written about but you don't know if it is true or not.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2004

    Taboo subject? Yes. Succeeds? Definitely!

    When I decided to read this book all I knew was that Dr. Alfred Kinsey was a controversial ¿sex researcher¿ during the much-repressed 1940¿s. The idea that a professor could hold much-detailed lectures on such forbidden taboos during that time is humorous and fascinating. I found John Milk¿s inner struggle to be strikingly honest and his dedication to Kinsey¿s research admirable and refreshing. T.C. Boyle deserves credit for approaching the subject most authors would shy away from. He makes it work. He also proves to the reader he can easily write on a broad range of challenging subjects. I admit that I wouldn¿t suggest purchasing this book for grandma or monsignor¿s 'retirement' party. But IF you want to take a walk ¿on the wild side¿ and read an interesting tale that challenges your beliefs on marriage, relationships and monogamy READ THIS BOOK!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2004

    Interesting material

    I am a HUGE T.C. Boyle fan - Drop City will always be one of my all-time favorite books! However, I felt a bit disappointed by this book. The material was interesting enough, but unlike Drop City, which completely hooked me from the start, I did not feel as engaged. It seems to be lacking in storyline. What we know from the beginning doesn't much change through the end. Still worth the read, and it doesn't change my opinion of Boyle as a brilliant writer.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2004

    Love vs. Sex

    Boyle's novel about Alfred Kinsey sticks closely to the facts revealed in James H. Jones' biography of Kinsey. Boyle manages to portray some of the ambiguities of a man to whom any sexual practice is as devoid of meaning as the habits of gall wasps (Kinsey's major interest other than sex). The narrator (who seems ro be largely based on a real person) is a sexual cypher happy to be molded by Kinsey. As a picture of 'objectivity' and scientific curiosity run amok, the novel is fascinating, but since the characters do not ultimately engage our sympathy, one feels as distanced from them as a scientist.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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