And there's another wrinkle. Often on big tours, there's sometimes no choice to be among the first stores to host an event. That makes it hard to hand-sell the book beforehand. Fortunately these authors often have backlist available, which is why you see piles of T.C. Boyle books on our author case. In Mr. Boyle's case, we're probably event #3, as his new novel, When the Killing's Done, goes on sale 2/22, and our event is Thursday, February 24th, at 7 PM, at Boswell. It is not ticketed--we welcome all Boyle fans, whether you borrow him from the library or download him on your e-reader. That said, we need to sell books in order to keep getting authors of this stature--just saying.
You say you don't like novels? Short stories are your thing? Well, how convenient, as Boyle is considered a short story master, and his new collection, Wild Child, will be out in paperback for the event.
The new novel is a story set off the coast of Santa Barbara in the Channel Islands. On one side is Alma Boyd Takesue, a National Park Service biologist hoping to preserve the native animals from interlopers like feral pigs and rats. On the other is Dave LaJoy, a local businessman, who, with his partner the folksinger Anise, is fiercely opposed to the killing of any living creature. The violence escalates in a battle of crossed environmental causes. There's also the story of Alma's grandmother, the sole survivor of a 1940's shipwreck, and Anise's mother, a sheeprancher, whose tales play into the story. The past weighing on the present, and all that!
So the good news is that our buyer Jason Kennedy read and loved When the Killing's Done:
"Two environmentalists are attempting to save two different species on the Channel Islands—one through killing rats to protect the birds, the other is trying to save the rats, birds be damned. Boyle expertly alternates perspectives as Alma Boyd Takesue attempts to eliminate the invasive species from the islands and Dave LaJoy attempts to thwart her at ever crossing. Through escalating violence, they both forget that Nature is by far the bigger force here. Boyle has some of the quirkiest characters, and their obsessions lead them far astray from the people they think they are. A fantastic novel that will have you wanting to read more Boyle."
If you haven't seen Boyle, it's an event not to be missed. Think Sherman Alexie. Way more than just a dry reading and a couple of questions. This is one of the highlights of our winter season.
There's another nice spin here. On our just-released winter 2011 book club recommendations (the complete list is on a forthcoming blog post), I am recommending T.C. Boyle's The Women, his previous novel about Frank Lloyd Wright. It's out just in time for the new Milwaukee Art Museum Frank Lloyd Wright show, which opens February 12th. Everything will be Wright with the world come February, and a good juicy novel can further the mood. I'm suggesting that book clubs read the novel in conjunction with a visit to the show.