American Writers, Supplement XX by Jay Parini

By Jay Parini

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The Women. New York: Viking, 2009. INTERVIEWS Adams, Elizabeth. “An Interview with T. ” Chicago Review 37, no. 2/3:51–63 (1991). Ermelino, Louisa. ” Publishers Weekly, June 19, 2006, pp. 24–25. Frumkes, Lewis Burke. “A Conversation with T. ” The Writer 112, no. 10:26–28 (October 1999). Grant, Richard. ” The Guardian, February 28, 2009. Harshaw, Tobin. ” The New York Times Book Review, April 25, 1993, p. 28. O’Neill, Molly. “At Breakfast with: T. ” The New York Times, June 2, 1993. SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS Descent of Man.

The narrator, one of only a handful of human survivors, allows an irascible, unattractive woman into his house in the name of procreating the species, only to learn that she had her tubes tied years ago. He discovers another living woman with whom he is more compatible, but the two of them are attacked by his first lover, who destroys their house. The protagonist observes, “It was hateful and savage—human, that’s what it was, human” (p. 301). Clouded by emotions and unable to accept the responsibilities of ensuring that the species will continue, humanity is essentially doomed, yet the spurned lover’s former fiancé miraculously arrives out of the wilderness to stabilize the relationships between monogamous couples, securing peace, if not longevity, for the species.

Boyle’s fiction is heavily laced with irony in that any attempt that humans make to improve their species is countered by the truth that we are essentially animalistic. This irony is nowhere more apparent than in his novel A Friend of the Earth (2000). Ty Tierwater is a radical environmentalist who repeatedly finds himself imprisoned for his actions on behalf of the well-being of the natural world. He has a credo that is tested throughout the novel: “to be a friend of the earth, you have to be an enemy of the people” (p.

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