Review

After the Plague and Other Stories

by T. C. Boyle



A snippet from one of the stories in T. C. Boyle's AFTER THE PLAGUE
captures the essence of the entire book: "In the morning, the
dryness in the back of his throat told him he'd drunk too much the
night before --- that and a fuzziness between his ears, as if his
head were a radio caught between stations --- and he took two of
the Tylenol-codeine tabs to ease his transition into the day." The
stories in this collection are boozy and woozy and fuzzy around the
edges, their transition from good to great being aided by Boyle's
signature skillful word play and character development.

As the 16 stories within the collection unfold, what becomes
evident is that Boyle is interested in a variety of issues and
likes to explore them with blackened humor and witty repartee. He
is one of the few writers who can make date rape funny. Date rape,
of course, isn't funny. But Boyle can shift your thinking, make you
smile, throw you a curve that you just have to swing at.

In the title story, the apocalypse has come and only a few are left
to fend for themselves or join together. It's funny.

Not all the stories make you chuckle (or guffaw, as the case can
sometimes be). "The Love of My Life" deals with first love and its
consequences. "Rust" is about an older couple coming to grips with
the end of their lives. "The Underground Gardens," a superb story,
is a tale about an Italian immigrant in the 1920s trying to woo his
love.

Although several stories try a bit too hard to make statements and
to "make you think" --- "The Black and White Sisters" and "Going
Down" for instance --- on the whole, AFTER THE PLAGUE is a fresh
book with fresh ideas written by one of America's best short story
writers.

Reviewed by Jonathan Shipley on January 20, 2011

After the Plague and Other Stories
by T. C. Boyle

  • Publication Date: December 31, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0142001414
  • ISBN-13: 9780142001417