Talk Talk

( 17 )

Overview

Over the past twenty-five years, T.C. Boyle has earned wide acclaim and an enthusiastic following with such adventurous, inimitable novels as The Tortilla Curtain, Drop City, and The Road to Wellville. For his riveting eleventh novel, Boyle offers readers the closest thing to a thriller he has ever written, a tightly scripted page turner about the trials of Dana Halter, a thirty-three-year-old deaf woman whose identity has been stolen. Featuring a woman in the lead role (a Boyle first), Talk Talk is both a ...

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Talk Talk

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Overview

Over the past twenty-five years, T.C. Boyle has earned wide acclaim and an enthusiastic following with such adventurous, inimitable novels as The Tortilla Curtain, Drop City, and The Road to Wellville. For his riveting eleventh novel, Boyle offers readers the closest thing to a thriller he has ever written, a tightly scripted page turner about the trials of Dana Halter, a thirty-three-year-old deaf woman whose identity has been stolen. Featuring a woman in the lead role (a Boyle first), Talk Talk is both a suspenseful chase across America and a moving story about language, love, and identity from one of America's most versatile and entertaining novelists.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Let us count the reasons why we love T. C. Boyle: quirky characters, plotlines that thrum with vibrancy, a gimlet-eyed view of human nature, and a way with words so dazzling it makes us giddy. One of the great high-wire walkers of contemporary fiction, Boyle now offers the enthralling story of a deaf woman who sets out with her new boyfriend on a surreal cross-country pursuit of the identity thief who has ruined her life. A suspense-filled caper filled with forays into many uncomfortable issues surrounding communication and identity, Talk Talk finds Boyle at the top of his provocative game.
Ron Charles
Considering Boyle's recent subjects -- sex research ( The Inner Circle ), hippies ( Drop City ), environmental apocalypse ( A Friend of the Earth ) -- it's remarkable that his most exciting novel yet should focus on the tedium of ruined credit scores and fraudulent drivers' licenses. But Talk Talk benefits from Boyle's highbrow/lowbrow style: He knows how to drill down through the surface of everyday life into our core anxieties, and he knows how to write constantly charging, heart-thumping chase scenes.
— The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
Using his gift for manic invention and freewheeling, hyperventilated prose, Mr. Boyle does an antic job of recounting the cat-and-mouse-and-cat game played by Dana and Peck, wittily dancing around his theme of identity and identity theft, even as he orchestrates a sense of foreboding and suspense.
— The New York Times
New York Times
Funny, engaging, and suspenseful
Washington Post
[Boyle's] most exciting novel yet.
Los Angeles Times
Talk Talk stands out as nothing short of an uncomfortable masterpiece—as simultaneously overwhelming, treacherous, beautiful and boiling over with hellacious revelation as its ultimate subject: life in twenty-first-century America.
USA Today
Starts off fast and never lets go.... Boyle once again delivers an entertaining story with his usual laser commentary.
San Francisco Chronicle
A tense thriller ... Talk Talk opens at full throttle and never slackens.
New York Times Book Review
Boyle takes the reader on a wild ride.
Publishers Weekly
Bestseller and PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Boyle recasts the battle of good and evil as an identity theft suspense story in his 11th novel (following The Inner Circle). Dana Halter, a "slim, graceful, dark-eyed deaf woman of thirty-three," runs a stop sign and is hauled off to jail when a routine police check turns up multiple pending felony charges. As Dana disappears into the criminal justice system, her earnest and willing boyfriend, Bridger (on deadline doing a sci-fi film's special effects), isn't much help. Meanwhile, William "Peck" Wilson-a social parasite whose lifestyle includes Armani, a house in Marin County and a shopaholic bombshell girlfriend imported from a former Soviet republic-is actually the man behind the charges against Dana. Finally out on bail and reunited with Bridger, Dana lacks the resources to clear her name, but in the best tradition of the good guy willing to sacrifice everything for justice, Bridger chucks his job, and the two set off on Peck's trail. Boyle, always a risk taker, neatly manages the challenge of a deaf protagonist and a bad guy who is a gourmet cook, genuinely loves his bombshell and has a soft spot for children. As Dana and Bridger hurtle across the country and the tension mounts, Boyle drops crumbs of wisdom in signature style, and readers will be hot on the trail. (On sale July 10) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In his latest work, Boyle (Drop City) explores the nightmare of identity theft as deaf teacher Dana Halter is pulled over for running a four-way stop sign and suddenly finds her life turned upside down. After days in a California jail, Dana is released when it is discovered that the "Dana Halter" who committed various crimes in various jurisdictions is a man. Dana and her digital filmmaker boyfriend, Bridger Martin, piece together information on the other Dana (n William "Peck" Wilson) and follow him across the country in order to exact retribution for what the justice system deems a "victimless crime." Dana's childhood insecurities resurface as others react to her as a deaf person in a hearing world, and she questions her ability to communicate who she really is. Even her relationship with Bridger, who learned to sign after they met, begins to fray as their odyssey turns into a vendetta and listening to each other takes a backseat to rage. Alternating chapters offer Peck's take on how easy it is (is this fact or fiction?) to reinvent oneself from a local outcast into a successful (fill in the blank) via the Internet and a bit of time on a library computer. The continuity errors distracted this reviewer, and missing details make the novel more frustrating than riveting. Still, Boyle's many fans will probably want to go along for the ride. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/06.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On the surface, this novel of identity theft delivers page-turning suspense, but it also delves deeper into the essence of identity. Having explored the past for perspective on the present in recent novels (the Kinsey sex report in The Inner Circle, 2004; the hippie commune of Drop City, 2003), the prolific Boyle addresses the contemporary concern of identity theft, showing how easy it is for a cyber-criminal to appropriate someone else's identity and how difficult it can be for the victim to untangle the credit and criminal implications. Stopped for a traffic violation, deaf schoolteacher Dana finds herself jailed on charges she can't understand, for crimes committed in states she has never visited. Her only ally in clearing herself is Bridger, the boyfriend she recently met at a dance club. From her Kafkaesque predicament, Dana develops a Moby-Dick-sized obsession (both literary references are evoked within the novel) to find the criminal and regain her identity. When she and Bridger stumble upon some contact information on the perpetrator, they make a big mistake that threatens the novel's plausibility: They call the crook, letting him know they're onto him, rather than passing the information along for police to investigate. What results is a cross-country chase, as Dana and Bridger pursue a quarry who has serial identities, is totally self-centered (whatever self he has assumed) and is convinced that he is society's victim. He's a younger, psychopathic Gatsby, using his purloined wealth to forge an identity that attracts beautiful women whom he treats as identity accessories. The quest costs Dana her job and threatens Bridger's, as he discovers how little he really knows Dana, whileshe realizes how much she has defined her own identity as a deaf woman, as a daughter (her mother knows her in a way that Bridger never will) and as a victim. By the riveting climax, characters and readers alike recognize that the very concept of a fixed, static identity is a delusion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143112150
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 617,946
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.78 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

T. Coraghessan Boyle

T. C. Boyle is the author of eleven novels, including World's End (winner of the PEN/FaulknerAward), Drop City (a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award), and The Inner Circle. His most recent story collections are Tooth and Claw and The Human Fly and Other Stories.

Biography

In the interest of time and space, it might be easier to note the writers that T. C. Boyle isn't compared to. But let's give the reverse a try: Donald Barthelme, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Evelyn Waugh, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Kingsley Amis, Thomas Berger, Robert Coover, Lorrie Moore, Stanley Elkin, Tom Robbins, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, Don DeLillo, Flannery O'Connor.

Oh, let's not forget F. Lee Bailey. And Dr. Seuss.

Boyle, widely admired for his acrobatic verbal skill, wild narratives and quirky characters (in one short story, he imagines a love affair between Dwight Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev's wife), has dazzled critics since his first novel in 1981.

Consider this example, from Larry McCaffery in a 1985 article for The New York Times: "Beneath its surface play, erudition and sheer storytelling power, his fiction also presents a disturbing and convincing critique of an American society so jaded with sensationalized images and plasticized excess that nothing stirs its spirit anymore.... It is into this world that Mr. Boyle projects his heroes, who are typically lusty, exuberant dreamers whose wildly inflated ambitions lead them into a series of hilarious, often disastrous adventures."

But as much as critics will bow at his linguistic gifts, some also knock him for resting on them a bit too heavily, hinting that the impressive showmanship attempts to hide a shortage of depth and substance.

Craig Seligman, writing in The New Republic in 1993, pointed out that "Boyle loves a mess. He loves chaos. He loves marshes and jungles, and he loves the jungle of language: luxuriant sentences overgrown with lianas of lists, sesquipedalian words hanging down like rare fruits. For all its exoticism, though, his prose is lucid to the point of transparency. It doesn't require much deeper concentration than a good newspaper (though it does require a dictionary)."

Reviewing The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, New York Times critic Scott Spencer scratched his head over why Boyle had invited readers along for this particular ride: "Mr. Boyle's fictional strategy is puzzling. Why are we being asked to follow the fates of characters for whom he clearly feels such contempt? Not surprisingly, this is ultimately off-putting. Perhaps Mr. Boyle has received too much praise for his zany sense of humor; in this book, that wit often seems merely a maddening volley of cheap shots. It's like living next door to a gun nut who spends all day and half the night shooting at beer bottles."

Growing up, Boyle had no aspirations to be a writer. It wasn't until his studies at State University of New York, where he as a music student, that he bumped into his muse. "I went there to be a music major but found I really couldn't hack that at the age of 17," he told The Writer in 1999. "I just started to read outside my classes -- literature and history. I wound up being a history and English major; when I wandered into a creative writing class as a junior, I realized that writing was what I could do."

He then started teaching, in part to avoid getting drafted into the Vietnam War, and later applied to the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop.

After a collection of short stories in 1979, he released his first novel, Water Music, called "pitiless and brilliant" by The New Republic, and has shuttled back and forth between novels and short stories, all known for their explosions of character imagination. Mr. Boyle's literary sensibility ... thrives on excess, profusion, pushing past the limits of good taste to comic extremes," McCaffery wrote in his 1985 New York Times piece. "He is a master of rendering the grotesque details of the rot, decay and sleaze of a society up to its ears in K Mart oil cans, Kitty Litter and the rusted skeletons of abandoned cars and refrigerators."

In his review of Drop City, the 2003 novel set in California commune that won Boyle a National Book Award nomination, Dwight Garner joins the chorus of critical acclaim over the years – "Boyle has always been a fiendishly talented writer" – but he also acknowledges some of the criticism that Boyle has faced in these same years.

"The rap against Boyle's work has long been that he's a sort of madcap predator drone, raining down hard nuggets of contempt, sarcasm and bitter humor on the poor men and women in his books while rarely giving us characters we're actually persuaded to feel anything about," he wrote. "This is partly a bum rap -- and I'd hate to knock contempt, sarcasm and bitter humor -- but there's enough truth in it that it's a joy to find, in Drop City that Boyle gives us a lot more than simply a line of bong-addled innocents led to slaughter."

But perhaps the neatest summary of Boyle's work would be from Lorrie Moore, one of the novelists to which he has been compared. In a 1994 New York Times review of Boyle's short story collection Without a Hero, she praised Boyle's "astonishing and characteristic verve, his unaverted gaze, his fascination with everything lunatic and queasy."

"God knows, Mr. Boyle can write like an angel," she continues later, "if at times a caustic, gum-chewing one. And in this strong, varied collection maybe we have what we'd hope to find in heaven itself (by the time we begged our way there): no lessening of brilliance, plus a couple of laughs to mitigate all that high and distant sighing over what goes on below."

Good To Know

Boyle changed his middle name from John to Coraghessan (pronounced "kuh-RAGG-issun") when he was 17.

He is known almost as much for his ego as his writing. "Each book I put out, I think, 'Goodbye, Updike and Mailer, forget it," The New Republic quoted him as saying. "I joke at Viking that I'm going to make them forget the name of Stephen King forever, I'm going to sell so many copies.

Boyle's philosophy on reading and writing, as told to The Writer: "Good literature is a living, brilliant, great thing that speaks to you on an individual and personal level. You're the reader. I think the essence of it is telling a story. It's entertainment. It's not something to be taught in a classroom, necessarily. To be alive and be good, it has to be a good story that grabs you by the nose and doesn't let you go till The End."

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    1. Also Known As:
      T.C. Boyle
    2. Hometown:
      Santa Barbara California
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 2, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Peekskill, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in music, State University of New York at Potsdam, 1970; Ph.D. in literature, Iowa University, 1977
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    We Are Our Own Bosses

    Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle <BR/>Jayln Havill<BR/><BR/>We Are Our Own Bosses<BR/><BR/>One book I would definitely recommend reading would be T.C. Boyle's Talk Talk. This suspenseful piece of writing about stolen identities and a handicapped traveling the countryside to get her identity back puts us into the mind of an identity thief and their victim. T.C. Boyle's writing style in Talk Talk brings a lot of good things to the table. The way he puts two character's stories in one novel, and the way he intertwines them to make this enthralling book is one very unique way of writing. It's interesting how he is able to bring all of our emotions and thoughts inside of the writing and make us experience their pain and anger.<BR/><BR/>We first meet our main character, Dana Halter, a deaf teacher whose only way of surviving and income is teaching at a deaf school, is pulled over for running a stop sign. She thinks she's just going to be later than she was before for her appointment, but it all turns around in a time period of ten minutes, and finds herself being assisted into the backseat of a cop car and later losing all she has, including her job. She realizes that her identity has been stolen and her life will change for the worst due to this crime, unless she does something about it herself. T.C. Boyle doesn't bother with character introductions; he lets the character's actions do the talking, and lets the main problem of the book be introduced within the first few pages.<BR/><BR/>T.C. Boyle goes on with the rest of the book, telling about Dana and her computer animation specialist boyfriend, Bridger Martin, goes looking for the person who had stolen her identity. He also tells the story and life of the man who had stolen her identity, "Peck". He had gone through quite a bit of trouble to drive him toward committing the crime of stealing someone's identity. He was a failed restaurant owner and got into a little trouble for trying to vent some anger on his ex-wife's new husband. We learn both stories, and then T.C. Boyle does very interesting writing by combining both characters, Dana and "Peck's", present actions of "Peck" trying to escape from Dana and Dana and Bridger trying to catch "Peck".<BR/><BR/>When we read the book, we experience how hard it would be to have our identity stolen. I'm sure we would probably have an idea, but imagine that terrible thing happening to a handicapped person, a deaf person for example in this book. Dana Halter has always been strong about her difference from her peers; she always knew that she would be. But, when it comes to the misunderstanding of having her identity stolen, the government doesn't want to help her and she feels more ignored than before. Having this happen brings self-consciousness about her deafness, and is more worried and aware of what people may think of her due to her disability, and almost blames her disability for her identity being stolen. But she hangs on; she keeps fighting for her right to her own identity.<BR/> T.C. Boyle's theme he gets across in this novel can apply to all people, not just those who are handicapped. We learn that you have to fend for yourself in the end. No matter what your differences may be from others, or if you get babied all the time, you have to be able to be confident in yourself and be your own boss.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2007

    One of the Best Thrillers I've Read

    This book was incredible. The premise is totally new, the plot is fantastic and the writing is crisp and fast paced. You cannot put it down. It has fast become one of my favorite books to share with friends!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    Sally

    Ill make u plenty horny. Im a fourteen year old virgin, brunette with chocolate brown eyes, huge 49 DD b o o b s, massive t i t s & a big round a z z just waiting to be spanked. Are ya horny now?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome Awesome

    I really enjoyed this book. To this day I can't remember how I came across this book but I'm glad I did. The characters were very well developed, there was a clear plot and a wonderfully designed villain. I couldn't put the book down until the end. Some people (and by some people I mean my boyfriend) didn't like the ending but it was semisweet and perfect for the tone of Talk Talk.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2006

    Love This Book

    How can you not love this book. A timely matter 'theft identity' and a love story. I thought Bridger loved Dana more than she loved him. He went to great lengths to stand by her, and it seemed to be her way or no way. TC Boyle has magic with his charaters, I feel like I know them, even slimy 'Peck' and Natalia. I could not put this book down. What happened at the end, well you can make it up in your own head. Bravo TC

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2006

    Talk about Talk Talk

    I had the privilege of listening to TC Boyle read the first chapter of Talk Talk at the Barnes and Noble in Lincoln Center on July 10th, and it is the day after my day of reading Talk Talk... Now that I have slept on it I still marvel at TC Boyle's imagination that often seems unlike any others and the carefully orchestrated (even if grown organically) design of each of his creations. His imagination literally pieces together bits of data and observations after pondering a topic. TC Boyle shared with event goers how he 'worries about everything all the time,' and it appears that he might just worry about all kinds of people in all kinds of conditions impaired, sociopathic, aliens, split family members, hard working people who get ripped off... the list seems endless as evidenced in his empathy towards all the characters in Talk Talk. I was drawn to Bridger because he fell for Dana without realizing she was deaf and remained faithfully by her side throughout this tale. This character for me stays true to his name, bridging two worlds with a solid foundation. Similar to a junior high kid, Peck is hellbent on trying on everyone else's identity, in effect stealing the most precious thing we all have...ourselves. In my mind Dana is not the main character, but a supporting cast member to the meat of the story...our senses and how they define who we are at times. Talk...is communication, whether it be oral, or body language Taste...is subjective Hearing...is not always with our ears Seeing...with our eyes and our minds Touch...a brush up against someone can communicate (Talk Talk) volumes

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2012

    Not a fan

    I had to read this for school, and I'm not a fan. It's very depressing and frustrating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Mystery

    Gtg

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Rose

    Im bck too i passed out cold last night >.< Sorry

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 31, 2012

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    Posted May 16, 2009

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    Posted September 16, 2011

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    Posted October 19, 2008

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    Posted July 25, 2010

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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