T. Coraghessan Boyle Analysis

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Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What place do you think “fad” medicine such as the Graham diet plays in T. Coraghessan Boyle’s The Road to Wellville? Are there comparable modern-day diets or treatments?

In The Road to Wellville, are the patients of the sanatorium looking for physical cures? What ailments are they really trying to address?

Why does Boyle draw so often on history in his works? What does he accomplish by using American history?

What recurrences and echoes occur in World’s End? What cycles is Boyle trying to explore and what does their repetition say about the nature of history?

Boyle’s work often manages to combine humor and pathos. How do they influence and enhance each other?

Boyle has noted that he likes to defeat the expectations of readers, particularly ones that have read other pieces of his work. How does he actively work to defeat reader expectations and do the unexpected in his novels?

One of the central themes of Drop City is the desire of the hippies to remain in a state of innocence, like children. What is Boyle trying to say about the desire to postpone adulthood, and how does it connect to his view of American culture?

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

T. Coraghessan Boyle’s novels, which explore many of the same subjects and themes as his short fiction, have received popular attention and critical praise. The Road to Wellville (1993) was made into a motion picture in 1994.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

T. Coraghessan Boyle received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1977. Descent of Man, his first collection of stories, won the St. Lawrence Award for Short Fiction. His novel Water Music (1981) received the Aga Khan Award, and another novel, World’s End (1987), was awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, T. Coraghessan Boyle has published several collections of mostly satirical short stories that generally address the same themes seen in his longer fiction.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

T. Coraghessan Boyle’s novels have been praised for their originality, style, and comic energy. At a time when his contemporaries seem obsessed with the mundane details of everyday life—presented in a minimalist style—Boyle approaches fiction as an iconoclastic storyteller who embraces and borrows from the entire history of narrative literature, celebrating the profane, often-absurd complexities of human endeavors. His first collection of short stories won the St. Lawrence Award for Short Fiction, Water Music received the Aga Khan Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction was given to World’s End. Boyle also has been a recipient of the PEN short story award. A film adaptation of The Road to Wellville by director and screenwriter Alan Parker was released in 1994.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. “According to Boyle.” Interview by Louisa Ermelino. Publishers Weekly, June 19, 2006. Boyle discusses the inspiration and research for Talk Talk and his love for language.

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. “Rolling Boyle.” Interview by Tad Friend. The New York Times Magazine, December 9, 1990. Boyle portrays himself as a missionary for literature who promotes himself to ensure that his work is read. He comments on the new maturity and reality in some of his fiction but admits that the absurd and bizarre are more natural for him.

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. “T. C. Boyle: Errant Punk.” Interview by Gary Percesepe. Mississippi Review 35 (Fall, 2007): 21-43. Boyle talks about the themes of his novels and about being a creative-writing student and teacher.

Burke, Matthew. “Fortress Dystopia: Representations of Gated Communities in Contemporary Fiction.” Journal of American and Comparative Cultures 24 (Spring, 2001): 115-122. Discusses the social dynamics of The Tortilla Curtain.

Carnes, Mark C., ed. Novel History: Historians and Novelists Confront American’s Past (and Each Other). New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. The essay by Michael Kamen discusses Boyle’s fictional use of history and historical characters.

Chase, Brennan. “Like, Chill!” Los Angeles 38 (April, 1993): 80-82. A biographical sketch, focusing on Boyle’s successful...

(The entire section is 1,150 words.)