WITHOUT A HERO by T.C. Boyle

WITHOUT A HERO

and Other Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Boyle's fourth story collection follows his highly successful novel, The Road to Wellville (1993), which will be released this summer or fall as a movie starring Anthony Hopkins. Each of these 15 stories is sharply done, brightly worded, and edged with black humor. A take-off on Hemingway's ``A Natural History of the Dead'' called ``The 100 Faces of Death, Vol. V'' is a grisly compilation of odd ways to die. The title story may be the best in that it has the book's most memorable character, a Russian immigrant woman who takes advantage of the wimpy California narrator, indulges in shopper's paradise and long-distance calls, but, ultimately, yearns for a lover ``to die for.'' Perhaps the funniest is ``Filthy with Things,'' which tells of a wife and her husband who cannot move about their house because it's so full of collectibles--so much so that a professional organizer, or ``specialist in aggregation disorders,'' must be called in to straighten out the impossibly crammed house, porch, and lawn. ``Big Game'' limns a fake African hunting ground located outside Bakersfield, California, where the stupidly wealthy can shoot zebras and lions. In ``Carnal Knowledge'' the foolish narrator is suckered by a beautiful ecoterrorist into liberating a turkey farm just before Thanksgiving. ``Acts of God'' depicts an aged, fairly recently married and put-upon retiree whose harridan wife gets hit by a well-deserved tropical hurricane. And so they go. As magazine fiction, a sheaf of amusing, smartly crafted tales, but none of these stories has the crushing moment of wisdom that comes from the writer's ribs and sticks for life. Irony is not enough. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-670-84963-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994




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