Since 11th grade when I read T.C. Boyle’s short story Top of the Food Chain I knew that I had a new favorite author (sorry Philip Pullman, my taste matured and you fell to #2). Since then I have read all but one of T.C. Boyle’s novels and most of his short stories. I skipped reading his last bestselling novel The Women, about Frank Lloyd Wright as told through accounts from the four women in his life, because my graduate student life and limited amount of free time has made me extra picky about my book choices. However, when Boyle’s latest novel, When The Killing’s Done came out in February I knew that this was a book that I would make the time to read.
I particularly enjoy Boyle’s writing because every novel has a thread of truth and history running through it. Often times, as was the case with “The Women”, his books are fictional accounts of the life of a real person (Frank Lloyd Wright, Alfred Kinsey, John Kellogg). At the core of his latest book is not a historical figure but the true history and culture of the Channel Islands located off the coast of California. It just so happens that the Channel Islands were protected in 1983 under The Antiquities Act as a National Monument and “promoted” to National Park status in 1980. As such, the protagonist of the book is a NPS employee and scientist trying to protect the resources of the park from human impact. My kind of story! I started the book last week and, although I am only a few chapters in, I absolutely love the story so far. I am very excited that T.C. Boyle is introducing readers to the (albeit fictionalized) life of an NPS biologist and how the National Park Service struggles to balance preservation of resources with human use.
Thanks to my sister, Amy, for gifting me the book for my birthday!
Book Review from the NYTimes: T.C. Boyle – When The Killing’s Done