Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"biggest bug ever"

I don't know how you feel about T. C. Boyle's writing. His stories are the itch that I scratch over and over. Then I'm stuck with that radiant prickle, that ugly heat, that regrettable, memorable fuss he injects under my skin with the sticky, showy abnormalities of his characters and the outrageous, exaggerated effects of their various deficits of body and spirit.

So I--of course--read that damn story (Sin Dolor) he just had in The New Yorker. I instantly regretted admitting to the chambers of my mind yet another tortured cast of Tom Waits-Diane Arbus mutant children, each more screwed by nature than the next, this one being a merry little narrative involving scorpions, skewers, heated blades, and a young boy who literally feels no pain. Predictably, the good doctor (see moral struggle in your writing manual) tries at once to exploit him and champion his cause.

And so it was one of those couldn't-have-written-it-better life developments that ratcheted up the Boylean hyperbole a mere day or two later. I opened up The New York Times and saw a story about a prehistoric sea scorpion that would have been seven feet long. Yes! Scorpions, like in the story, only monster huge. Epic scorpions, if you will.

Thank God Boyle did not read that before he submitted the story. Lord knows where the crazy bastard would have run with that one.