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Wild Child
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Wild Child

3.6 14
by T. C. Boyle

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A superb new collection from "a writer who can take you anywhere" (The New York Times) In the title story of this rich new collection, T.C. Boyle has created so vivid and original a retelling of the story of Victor, the feral boy who was captured running naked through the forests of Napoleonic France, that it becomes not just new but definitive: yes,


A superb new collection from "a writer who can take you anywhere" (The New York Times) In the title story of this rich new collection, T.C. Boyle has created so vivid and original a retelling of the story of Victor, the feral boy who was captured running naked through the forests of Napoleonic France, that it becomes not just new but definitive: yes, this is how it must have been. The tale is by turns magical and moving, a powerful investigation of what it means to be human. There is perhaps no one better than T.C. Boyle at engaging, shocking, and ultimately gratifying his readers while at the same time testing his characters' emotional and physical endurance. The fourteen stories gathered here display both Boyle's astonishing range and his imaginative muscle. Nature is the dominant player in many of these stories, whether in the form of the catastrophic mudslide that allows a cynic to reclaim his own humanity ("La Conchita") or the wind-driven fires that howl through a high California canyon ("Ash Monday"). Other tales range from the drama of a man who spins Homeric lies in order to stop going to work, to that of a young woman who must babysit for a $250,000 cloned Afghan and the sad comedy of a child born to Mexican street vendors who is unable to feel pain. Brilliant, incisive, and always entertaining, Boyle's short stories showcase the mischievous humor and socially conscious sensibility that have made him one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.

Editorial Reviews

Sarah L. Courteau
The 14 pieces in this collection showcase the skills of a master—of the ironic, the absurd, the tragic—forced by the confines of the form to shed his characteristic indulgences in favor of precision-cut narratives.
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
In the past Mr. Boyle has often told such tall tales in order to make some blackly humorous points about the dark side of the American dream and the surreal nature of history in the late 20th century, as the country lurched from the counterculture '60s and '70s into the greed-is-good '80s and '90s. In this volume, however, you get the sense that he has no larger philosophical point to make, that he is simply bent on entertaining the reader—on delivering some good, old-fashioned, funny-suspenseful-head-shaking stories.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The title novella in Boyles's ninth collection is as good as anything the prolific author of The Women has written. Basing his story on the historical Victor of Aveyron, the feral child discovered in the wilds of France in 1797 and slowly brought to heel indoors under the patient but understandably frustrated doctor Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard, Boyle interrogates history with an experienced reader's wariness of sentimental revisionism and a great writer's attention to precisely what defines the child's wildness. The 13 other stories are a grab bag of Boyles's signature modes and are, therefore, mixed. There's “Question 62,” a by-the-numbers suburban comedy concerning an escaped tiger; “La Concita,” a dutiful requiem for baby boomer ordinary guyism; and “Sin Dolor,” a bona fide Borgesian legend about a child whose inability to feel pain fails to protect him from more subtle wounds. Stronger material is found in “The Lie,” about a man who lies about his newborn baby's death to get out of work, comprising one of the book's few surprises. What's largely missing is experimentation, intimacy and deviation from a catalogue throughout which Boyle has proven himself doggedly reliable; one wonders when this wild child got housebroken. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
The usual darkly comic cautionary tales, but also some bracingly and impressively new works from the prolific author (The Women, 2009, etc.). Many of these 13 short stories echo a bit too closely Boyle's numerous earlier envisionings of human greed and stupidity, and the harsh ways in which nature outwits and punishes us all. In "La Conchita," the delivery of a human liver destined for transplant is compromised by an epic California mudslide. How to vote on a resolution to protect indigenous wildlife ("Question 62") assumes new meaning for a gentle young widow when a mountain lion begins patrolling her neighborhood. A high-school biology teacher learns just how impassioned the debate over evolution vs. creationism has become ("Bulletproof"); a lonely widower acquires an unconventional pet, incurring the interference of "Thirteen Hundred Rats"; and a veteran babysitter indulges the wishes of a childless rich couple who replace their late Afghan hound with a ridiculously expensive cloned canine ("Admiral"). Boyle nods off elsewhere, in the limp tale of a Botoxed beauty's unrequited love for her sleek surgeon ("Hands On"), and in depictions of neighborhood enmity exacerbated by wildfires ("Ash Monday") and drug-addicted vocalists pretending to rediscover their humanity while recording a Christmas novelty tune ("Three Quarters of the Way to Hell"). But he's at his best in an icy portrayal of a contemptible new dad who exploits his baby daughter to enable his shiftlessness ("The Lie"), and in "Sin Dolor," the tale of a boy born unable to feel pain and victimized by both his greedy father and the amoral physician who sees only material for a revolutionary case study. Better still is the titlenovella, a rich reimagining of the story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron, a feral innocent who deserves a better fate than forced integration into "civilization," which inevitably destroys him. With each book Boyle becomes a more adventurous and interesting writer.

Product Details

Viking Adult
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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

Santa Barbara California
Date of Birth:
December 2, 1948
Place of Birth:
Peekskill, New York
B.A. in music, State University of New York at Potsdam, 1970; Ph.D. in literature, Iowa University, 1977

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Wild Child 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
Reading short fiction, when it is GOOD short fiction, is akin to reading a novel in a few pages.  The author must use fewer words to quickly: draw the reader into an unfamiliar world, connect them sufficiently with strangers so that what happens to those strangers “matters” to the reader and set a pace that flows without being rushed.  After reading a well-written short story, I find it best to but the book aside for a bit and savor what I have just experienced/read.  Based upon this book, T. C. Boyle’s is an awfully good short-form fiction writer. The fourteen stories that make up this collection are eclectic, seeming to have no central theme around which the stories evolve, then the theme of nature makes begins to assert itself, as subtly as a root loosening a foundation, in each tale. This type of fiction is a two-edged sword – it is a delight to have fourteen new stories to dive into in a relatively short amount of time and it is difficult to quickly move from one “stand alone” tale to another without much space to ponder where one has been or where one is headed next.  All of the stories have an edge of tension woven in them.  I found myself dreading the dire occurrences that were about to happen in each of the tales, even though there was no reason for such suspicion.  As I considered this, as to have such unease arise as I read is unusual, it seemed that Mr. Boyle had created enough anticipation in such a short time that I did not want anything “bad” to befall any of my new “friends” and his tales were speaking to a deeper part of me than I had realized.   The three stories that spoke loudest to me were “Question 62,” “Admiral,” and the novella from which the book gets its title, “Wild Child.”  “Question 62” has the action occurring, concurrently, in the warmth of Santa Monica, CA and the frigid Minnesota winter.  The main characters in both tales are confronted with what nature will do to sustain itself and how hard humans have to work to keep “nature” from taking its course.   “Admiral” magnifies the wasteful arrogance too often found in opulence and the lengths people are willing to strive to keep “things the way they are.”  Finally, “Wild Child” is the retelling of the legendary story of Victor, a feral child “caught” in 1800 in France.  After reading further of the history of Victor, Mr. Boyle appears to merely be reminding the reader of this legend.  By far the saddest of the collection, it is the megaphone the author uses to highlight the other tales. The story suggests that civilization is the illusion we all hold and by which we measure the worth of all things.  Unless something “wild” can be tamed it is of little use.   My only drawback to this edition is that I choose to listen to it on compact disc rather than read it from a page.  The audio allowed the author to interpret his words but disallowed me the space to create my own voice in the tale.  This is a book that BEGS to be read, not just heard.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
roberta722 More than 1 year ago
This book of short stories, great.
Binker More than 1 year ago
This a collection of short stories (finger quotes here) that felt more like unfinished writing assignments. The story ideas and the written material is really good....but the srories had no endings. I found that frustrating but the material was so good I did finish the book. If you have a voracious appetite for all things literal then I encourage you to give it a whirl. If patience is not your thing you might want to pass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Wild Child is T.C. Boyle's latest collection of short stories. The majority of these stories are about the chaos that nature injects in everyday, orderly life and how that chaos changes people. Mudslides, escaped tigers, thousands of rats, and feral boys all rampage across these pages challenging people and changing them. There is a tinge of magical realism in some of the stories, plenty of tragedy, and even a sprinkling of hope. What struck me most about these stories was how often I wanted more of the story. The characters themselves were often not very likable, but the situations and their actions were so interesting that I was left curious about the outcome. Did the two pothead singers make amazing music together and become famous? Did the liver make it to the recipient in time? Short stories are not normally my favorite genre, but when they are well written they show you a slice of a life, just a moment or two, that marks something significant and reveals the essence of that life. TC Boyle accomplishes that with this creative, wild collection. I listened to the audio version of this book, read by the author himself. He does a fine job of the reading especially emphasizing the irony and dry humor in the stories. I passed many hours happily immersed in these stories and was reminded to pick up more by T.C. Boyle.
OdysseusUlysses More than 1 year ago
there was about 100 yards I called the back half was left undeveloped, 50 yards from my street and the other houses on the next street, this was my stomping grounds. My mother always seemed to have the time to listen to my questions but would refer me to my father-gatherer when my questions astounded her. His usual responses were kicking my ass. He is a wonderful man and taught me about the constellations and about how pilots read clouds in the old days. The best of this collection is Balto, which has been previously published. For plot summaries and CD Tracking table of contents please see endnote [8] End note 8 ***** [CD1 T1] "Balto" - a twelve going-on-thirteen girl provides substantial devastating courtroom testimony in her fathers' child endangerment trail after a driving under intoxication (DUI) trial. The story begins grippingly, "there are two kinds of truths, good truths and hurtful ones," which seems to be the main theme of the story and becomes more compelling thereafter. There are always multiple versions of truths and lies, which are counter-intuitive relative to the one who perceives them. I had to read "Balto" twice to understand it and that is great storytelling! The structure is a bit counter intuitive as well, since at first one is not clear on what has happened or what it is Angelle is being asked to do. By the way, flipping to the end does not help because even reading the story through one is not sure whether Angelle confessed because it was the right thing to do or whether it was simply an act of adolescent rebellion, I think because of adolescent rebellion because it is not PC but truthful. Angelle wonders about many things because some people wonder odd things, perhaps George Carlin is a kindred spirit. Before the Internet we had to wonder many things, relying on the inadequacies, but dearly loved, local libraries. It was the Internet which I had to rely on for the Balto-the-Wonder-Dog reference; perhaps TCB is defining the depth of the inquisitiveness of this character, which nobly exist her life. Children by nature desire to know and must question all things and the few take to the max. Only TCB can answer if an expansion is in the works; will Martine come back to dump on Angelle? **.5 [CD1 T15] "La Conchita" - A cynical special delivery man finds the road blocked in Ventura County when he needs to get a time sensitive harvested human liver packed inside his Bud Light Fun in the Sun Cooler. However, this non-heroic type manages to find his humanity somewhere between when a frantic woman covered in mud starts banging on his car window and when he walks back up the hill just to see if there is anybody else he can help. *.5 [CD2 T1] "Question 62" - a vegetarian Californian woman waging war on snails in the garden finds the balance of power altered by the arrival of an escaped tiger. Question 62, of the Department of Natural Resources, is up for a vote which would allow cats without a collar to be hunted down to protect the indigenous life. **.5 [CD2 T14] "Sin Dolor" - the painless one is born to Mexican street vendors and is unable to feel physical pain. The physician and father argue over what is best for the boy, however, both just wish to capitalize on the boys' ability. The physician wants him for a revolutionary case study and the father forces him perform "feats of senseless torture for money. There are more types
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Some of my happiest childhood memories are of the hours spent curled on my grandfather's lap as he told me stories. I later learned he began with nursery rhymes then as I grew moved on to stories of his boyhood and then to reading children's classics to me. Perhaps this is why I'm so partial to audiobooks, the pleasure of relaxing in a favorite chair and being told a story. In the case of WILD CHILD, the enjoyment is fourteen fold - yes, fourteen stories in the ninth collection by the eminent T.C. Boyle. The powerful titular story is by far the longest, actually a novella, and based on history - in 1797 a feral child, Victor of Aveyron, was found somewhere in France's wilderness, and given over to the care of a Parisian doctor who strove to teach the boy the ways of civilization. Unsurprisingly it was a struggle; the heart of the tale lies in Victor's observations. "Sin Dolor," features a Mexican boy who evidently doesn't feel physical pain. He' quite capable of burning himself with no ill effects or happily playing with deadly insects. It doesn't take his father long to realize that he can make money by taking the boy throughout the country in what we once called freak shows. The boy was compelled endure pain for ticket buying audiences. He exhibits "feats of senseless torture" and experiences an agony that is not physical. Boyle treats us to varying situations and characters - a father who lies about his baby in order to get out of work, an escaped tiger, a town embroiled in a Creationism controversy, an alcoholic's treatment of his daughter. All of these stories are vintage Boyle causing us to consider, to ponder our own actions and reactions. Doubling the pleasure for this listener was hearing Boyle reading his own works, bringing to each the nuances and emphases probably known only to the author himself. Enjoy! - Gail Cooke
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago