Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Guardian Chats with T.C. Boyle

TC Boyle talks about being a 'complete control freak' and why he feels compelled to write.

From the article...

Boyle grew up reading Kafka and Flannery O'Connor, and was taught in the 70s at the Iowa Writers' Workshop by John Irving and the "absolute master" John Cheever, but these days he is just as likely to be reading scientific non-fiction with such ominous titles as The Coming Plague or Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.

"I worry about everything – every sick baby, every vanishing species – all the time," says Boyle. He says that the lack of control he feels in the rest of his life has led to him becoming a "complete control freak" as a writer. "I've been lucky in my career in that nobody has ever said 'no' to me. I don't require much editing. The book you see on the shelves is pretty much the book I hand in. I'm not a member of any organisation or team. I was in a band once, but I was the singer. I'm enslaved to writing to the point where I sacrifice almost everything else." Since 1979, when his first short story collection, Descent of Man, was published, this obsessive work rate has resulted in six further story collections and 14 novels, all of them written with a breakneck energy that comes across on the page.

Boyle says he was "essentially a good kid" but "a hyperactive one" who got up to a fair bit of mischief in his home town of Peekskill, 30 miles outside New York City. In his teens, he took drugs and raced cars around the town with friends: "The normal stuff when there's nothing going on in your life and you need something to prove you're unique and show you're a man." Does he still think there's a touch of that hyperactivity in him now? "Well, look at me," he says. "What do you think?"

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