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T.C. Boyle's 'Wild Child': dark humor, nature and Botox

January 31, 2010 |  3:24 pm


T.C. Boyle's new collection of short stories, "Wild Child," is "loaded to the gills with dark humor, natural disasters and brushes with Botox," reviewer Mark Rozzo writes in our pages today.

Throughout this dazzling collection -- which veers from California to France, from the present to the past -- Boyle's stories have a habit of gazing back upon themselves with eyebrows cocked in wonder. And with good reason. Boyle is a master who has earned the right to be giddy about his bravura creations, which often turn on such pungent moments. Take for instance the mother of a Venezuelan relief pitcher in "The Unlucky Mother of Aquiles Maldonado." When she's spirited off by a band of grubby guerrillas and secreted in a jungle compound (her son's lucrative career in the States and his Hummer make their family a conspicuous target for kidnapping), she merely goes about doing what she does best: making arepas and taking care of boys. In the end, Aquiles' multimillion-dollar arm comes in handy during an explosive rescue attempt that, like so much of Boyle's work, good-naturedly toys with the limits of credulity.

Boyle has taught creative writing at USC for more than 30 years, but he isn't in class this week -- he's off in Chicago, Denver and other cities on a book tour. He returns to the Southland toward the end of February, taking part in the WordTheatre reading series.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: T.C. Boyle in 2003. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times