» LATEST FEATURES
LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
The story, which in true Boyle fashion isn't content to follow one idealistic thread in the face of a singular plotline, revolves around two Gen-Xers, Bridger Martin and Dana Halter, caught up in the everyday tumult of a "victimless crime." Bridger, entrenched in the stereotypical coastal California day job of rendering special effects for films, whiles away his day with mouse clicks amongst a peripheral cast of cubicle dwellers who go by screen names like Deet Deet, Plum and Lumpen. Dana, not far removed from the endless parade of post-baccalaureate degree programs, teaches at a local school. The two find each other inauspiciously enough, by the chance of a glance in the dark, electrified and sweaty air of a club, but their relationship is anything but usual. Bridger is a true disciple of the digital age, fueled by Red Bull and pizza, and Dana is deaf.
That in itself, the mashup between a disadvantaged academic fond of tapping out the rhythms of classic poets and an adult man who wears baggy pants and plays video games, could be enough for an exploration into the depths of human relations, a Palahniukian translation of the harmlessly light romance of Hornby. Anyone who knows Boyle's work, however, knows that it could not possibly stop there. When Dana's identity is stolen by a career criminal the two are sucked into a roller coaster web of false names, temporary addresses, and a hell of mangled credit reports that leads from the yuppie splendor of Marin County to the overgrown river bottoms of New York state. Release the hounds!
Through the marionettes of Bridger and Dana, Boyle explores not only the overt concepts of identity - credit cards, bank accounts and social security numbers - but also the more intangible elements of who people are. What are these things, these "base identifiers" that social systems use to track and, ultimately, evaluate us with? If the world's financial centers were caught up in a maelstrom of digital and file folder destruction, would anarchy reign? Boyle presents the question not only in the spirit of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, where the world takes on a predictably skeptical view of anyone with a rejected credit card or mistaken police record, but also in terms of self awareness. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks - what do we think of ourselves? Who are we, when stripped of our cell phones, credit histories and even our own names? Does it change who we are, and were we ever anyone at all to begin with? Or does a set of numbers and a paper trail not only track our income, but our dictate our outcome?
There is a lot to ponder in this book and, like Drop City and most of Boyle's works before it, the pages fly by, making it all too easy to slip by under the surface, like a boulder on a riverbed, unnoticed. And that is what will ultimately enshrine Boyle alongside the greatest of American authors, past or present. For his is not a greatness found in six-syllable words and Immanuel Kant-ian musings on the intangible, but rather in an ability to paint a riveting picture that can be both appreciated for its depth and its entertainment value. Like all great authors, T.C. Boyle is what you make of him. SEE ALSO: www.tcboyle.com
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.
See other articles by Eric J Herboth.
» MEDIA DOWNLOADS
» GOT STICKERS?
--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.