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T.C. BOYLE: Wild Child
“Boyle delves deeply into social and emotional territory to write imaginatively and meaningfully about the operatic drama of Wright’s world, an ideal subject for this protean, caring, and wisely satirical writer. . . . Boyle’s rendering of Taliesin, the cursed Wisconsin home of Wright’s dubious Fellowship, is positively gothic, and for all of the swift fury of the plot, this is a character-driven novel. . . . Boyle is electrifying in this gorgeous novel of artistic conviction, exalted romance, and appalling moral failings.”
“The genius of Frank Lloyd Wright was magnetic and cruel, as evidenced by the succession of failed marriages and hot-blooded affairs depicted in this biographic reimagining that drills into Wright mythology and the dark shadows of the American dream. . . . A lush, dense, and hyperliterate book—in other words, vintage Boyle.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“All of Boyle’s colorful skills are fully engaged in his latest . . . It’s a performance worthy of the writer who has, in interviews and on his informative website, acknowledged the influences of Flannery O’Connor, Evelyn Waugh and Gabriel García Márquez. I’d argue that Dickens and Shakespeare also must loom prominently in the imagination of a writer so adept at the creation of improbably beguiling comic grotesques. And Boyle’s warmhearted, coldly calculating, ineffably seductive and unknowable Frank Lloyd Wright may be the most beguiling of them all.”
After exploring the lives of cereal king Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in The Road to Wellville and sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey in The Inner Circle, T.C. Boyle now turns his attention to another equally colorful, egocentric, and audacious figure: Frank Lloyd Wright. His newest and twelfth novel, The Women, is a dazzling account of Wright’s life as told through the tempestuous experiences of the four women who loved him: Catherine “Kitty” Tobin, his first wife with whom he had six children; his mistress, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the wife of one of Wright’s clients, whom he first met in 1905 and who was infamously murdered, along with seven others, by a deranged servant at Wright’s Wisconsin estate, Taliesin, in 1914; Maud Miriam Noel, a passionate Southern belle with a fondness for morphine; and his third wife with whom he lived out the remainder of his years, the Montenegrin beauty Olgivanna Milanoff, an exotic, imperious dancer who was a student of the Russian mystic Gurdjieff.
Each of the four women’s stories plays out in a surprising, comedic, and ultimately poignant manner, and, as one might expect, Boyle comes up with a highly creative way to tell the tale – backwards in time, beginning with Olgivanna, as each new love interest first meets Wright and encounters her predecessor. A second story, moving forwards in time, is provided in the first section of each of the four parts of the book with the narrative of a humble young Japanese American man named Tadashi Sato who comes to Taliesin in the early 1930s to be employed as an architectural apprentice to Wright. Sato is put to work right away – in the kitchen, peeling potatoes, for six months – and his story gives a lens into the strange and tumultuous world of Taliesin in the 1930s, when Wright and Olgivanna held sway not just over matters architectural, but over everything from the apprentice’s diets to their clothes to whom they could choose to date or marry.
Needless to say, this is all fantastic subject matter for a writer as sly and intrepid as Boyle – there was not a moment in Wright’s life that was not filled with scandal – and the result is a book that is memorable and juicy and completely fun to read, a fabulously entertaining portrait of a complicated and fascinating man who held sway over nearly everyone in his life.
About the Author
T.C. Boyle is the author of eleven novels, including World’s End, which won the 1987 PEN/Faulkner Award, The Tortilla Curtain, which has now sold over 400,000 thousand copies in paperback, and Drop City, a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award. He has also published eight collections of stories and was the recipient of the prestigious PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the short story. His stories appear regularly in The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, McSweeney’s, and Playboy. He lives near Santa Barbara in The George C. Stewart House, the first private residence that Frank Lloyd Wright built in California, which is celebrating its centennial in 2009.
Also from T.C. Boyle.
|Join us and T.C. Boyle at the powerHouse Arena
for the reading, discussion and signing of Wild Child and The Women.
Friday, January 29, 7-9 PM
37 Main Street, Brooklyn, NY
More Info: 718.666.3049