Tooth and Claw

Tooth and Claw

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by T. C. Boyle
     
 

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Since his first collection of stories, Descent of Man, appeared in 1979, T.C. Boyle has become an acknowledged master of the form who has transformed the nature of short fiction in our time. Among the fourteen tales in his seventh collection are the comic yet lyrical title story, in which a young man wins a vicious African cat in a bar bet; "Dogology," about

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Overview

Since his first collection of stories, Descent of Man, appeared in 1979, T.C. Boyle has become an acknowledged master of the form who has transformed the nature of short fiction in our time. Among the fourteen tales in his seventh collection are the comic yet lyrical title story, in which a young man wins a vicious African cat in a bar bet; "Dogology," about a suburban woman losing her identity to a pack of strays; and "The Kind Assassin," which explores the consequences of a radio shock jock's quest to set a world record for sleeplessness. Muscular, provocative, and blurring the boundaries between humans and nature, the funny and the shocking, Tooth and Claw is Boyle at his best.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A dazzling new collection from a writer of "roaring intelligence and a curiosity that has led him to develop a masterly range of subjects and locales" —Annie Proulx, The Washington Post

"In T.C. Boyle's fierce, funny new collection, men are fools, women hold the sexual cards, and nature is full of surprises, few of them pleasant." —Entertainment Weekly

Annie Proulx
Inside Tooth and Claw are Boyle's trademark taut writing, immediate intimacy, vivid language, and meaty words and phrases including "liver muggies," "foude" and "testudineous." Cherish the writer who stretches your mind a little. These characters speak and tell their stories in the slouchy dialogue we all use, their girlfriends throw them out, they confront one another, break up and throw up, they shriek, their flesh prickles, they slip, sink, fall, they brush lips with death, but somehow most escape the deep kiss.
— The Washington Post
Laura Miller
… Boyle provides ample delights -- a robust sense of place, crackerjack dialogue, real stories -- on the way to his expected endings. He often works in a comic mode with roots in Mark Twain's tall tales; a number of these stories have the endearing air of being related from a bar stool (and many of them have scenes in bars). A handful are written in a more respectable, less plotted style, and these deal, of course, with grief, an emotion that has become something of a fetish in today's literary fiction. Yet even these tonier outings have solid narrative backbones.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The threat of imminent demise-whether self-inflicted or from an ungentle Mother Nature-hovers in Boyle's seventh collection (after the novel The Inner Circle). Ravenous alligators make a memorable cameo in "Jubilation," in which a divorced man seeking community and stability moves into a "model" town erected in a Florida theme park (think Disney's Celebration), only to find that benign surfaces conceal dangerous depths. This theme of civilization versus wilderness also underpins the weird and wonderful "Dogology," in which a young woman's frustration with the accoutrements of the human world compels her to run-on all fours-with a pack of neighborhood dogs. "Here Comes"-one of the collection's more realistic pieces-describes the anxious circumstances of a suddenly homeless alcoholic poised to slip through the cracks for good in a Southern California town. Substance abuse figures again in "Up Against the Wall," about a young man seduced by a dissolute new crowd, while his parents' marital discord and the Vietnam War tug at the edges of his drugged-out awareness. The wired rhythm of Boyle's prose and the enormity of his imagination make this collection irresistible; with it he continues to shore up his place as one of the most distinctive, funniest-and finest-writers around. (On sale Sept. 12) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Published on the heels of his novel The Inner Circle, Boyle's seventh collection continues the move away from the high-concept narrative hooks and surprise endings that characterized his earlier stories. The title comes from Tennyson's In Memoriam and refers to nature's cruelty and indifference to suffering. In some of these tales, the predators are animals; in others, human. In the title story, a man adopts a vicious African cat in order to impress a sexy cocktail waitress. Substance abuse is an underlying theme throughout. In the frightening "Here Comes," for instance, a man tries to adjust to his new life as a homeless drunk, while in "Up Against the Wall"-clearly an autobiographical tale, catching Boyle in an unusual confessional mode-a young teacher stranded in rural New York is recruited into the heroin lifestyle. This strong collection will delight Boyle's longtime fans and win him converts. For public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/05.]-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Darker tones and an impressive range of subjects dominate this impressive collection of 14 vivid stories, the seventh from one of our most versatile and prolific writers. Boyle displays his manic surrealist's wares in wry tales concerning a roughhewn Shetland Islander whose unlikely romance with a lissome American ornithologist is imperiled by violent winds continuously plaguing the isle of Unst ("Swept Away"); a retiree's passive adjustment to a Florida theme park and housing complex transformed by its draconian "Covenants and Restrictions" into an Orwellian nightmare ("Jubilation"); and in the superb "Dogology," which juxtaposes a revenge tale involving feral children in India with the regression of a woman field biologist who undertakes "reordering her senses" through intimate orientation in the canine world. Several considerably grimmer stories focus on hapless substance abusers: a recently divorced narrator who encounters the grieving father of a college fraternity drinking binge's victim ("When I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone"); a destitute loser sunk in homelessness and hopelessness ("Here Comes"); and an unstable drunk whose repeated risk-taking undermines his continuing dumb luck ("All the Wrecks I've Crawled Out Of"). A sense of looming global catastrophe takes the varied forms of a Mexican rancher's disbelieving encounter with a "doomsaying" scientist ("Blinded by the Light"); the father of a reported fatal auto crash's victim, obsessed with past and future Armageddons ("Chicxlub"); and-metaphorically-in the title story's account of its underachieving protagonist's enslavement to a ferociously untameable African predator. Even better are the tale of a radioco-host's assault on the world record for "continuous hours without sleep" ("The Kind Assassin"); a rich fictionalization of the famous journal detailing Sarah Kemble Knight's arduous travels through the rural colonial northeastern U.S. ("The Doubtfulness of Water"); and a perfectly calibrated portrayal of a callow "ghetto school" teacher's scary walk on the wild side ("Up Against the Wall"). Vintage Boyle, and not to be missed.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143037439
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/27/2006
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,250,841
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.65(h) x 0.66(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A dazzling new collection from a writer of "roaring intelligence and a curiosity that has led him to develop a masterly range of subjects and locales" —Annie Proulx, The Washington Post

"In T.C. Boyle's fierce, funny new collection, men are fools, women hold the sexual cards, and nature is full of surprises, few of them pleasant." —Entertainment Weekly

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Santa Barbara California
Date of Birth:
December 2, 1948
Place of Birth:
Peekskill, New York
Education:
B.A. in music, State University of New York at Potsdam, 1970; Ph.D. in literature, Iowa University, 1977
Website:
http://www.tcboyle.com/

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