Review by Booklist Review
Although the wild child of this book's title is the Wild Boy of Aveyron, a feral French youth who perhaps embodies the book's epigraph ( In wildness is the preservation of the world ), Boyle's latest collection of stories is as much about the uses adults have for children as it is about the children themselves. In his opening salvo, Balto, an alcoholic father asks his 12-year-old daughter to be his designated driver, with disastrous results. In The Lie, a man's impulsive excuse for skipping work ( The baby's dead ) goes little better. And in the lengthy and vividly imagined title story, Victor, the wild boy, doggedly resists his superiors' attempts to mold him into something useful and understandable to them he is wild nature personified. That's a thematic oversimplification of these diverse and wonderful stories, of course, and the appeal of Boyle's short fiction remains remarkably broad. His intelligence and style satisfy lovers of capital-L Literature, while his hooky, propulsive vignettes satisfy readers who just want a damn good story. And there are some damn good stories here.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The title novella in Boyles's ninth collection is as good as anything the prolific author of The Women has written. Basing his story on the historical Victor of Aveyron, the feral child discovered in the wilds of France in 1797 and slowly brought to heel indoors under the patient but understandably frustrated doctor Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard, Boyle interrogates history with an experienced reader's wariness of sentimental revisionism and a great writer's attention to precisely what defines the child's wildness. The 13 other stories are a grab bag of Boyles's signature modes and are, therefore, mixed. There's "Question 62," a by-the-numbers suburban comedy concerning an escaped tiger; "La Concita," a dutiful requiem for baby boomer ordinary guyism; and "Sin Dolor," a bona fide Borgesian legend about a child whose inability to feel pain fails to protect him from more subtle wounds. Stronger material is found in "The Lie," about a man who lies about his newborn baby's death to get out of work, comprising one of the book's few surprises. What's largely missing is experimentation, intimacy and deviation from a catalogue throughout which Boyle has proven himself doggedly reliable; one wonders when this wild child got housebroken. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Boyle's ninth short story collection; simultaneous release with the Viking hc; eight-city tour; read by the author. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The usual darkly comic cautionary tales, but also some bracingly and impressively new works from the prolific author (The Women, 2009, etc.). Many of these 13 short stories echo a bit too closely Boyle's numerous earlier envisionings of human greed and stupidity, and the harsh ways in which nature outwits and punishes us all. In "La Conchita," the delivery of a human liver destined for transplant is compromised by an epic California mudslide. How to vote on a resolution to protect indigenous wildlife ("Question 62") assumes new meaning for a gentle young widow when a mountain lion begins patrolling her neighborhood. A high-school biology teacher learns just how impassioned the debate over evolution vs. creationism has become ("Bulletproof"); a lonely widower acquires an unconventional pet, incurring the interference of "Thirteen Hundred Rats"; and a veteran babysitter indulges the wishes of a childless rich couple who replace their late Afghan hound with a ridiculously expensive cloned canine ("Admiral"). Boyle nods off elsewhere, in the limp tale of a Botoxed beauty's unrequited love for her sleek surgeon ("Hands On"), and in depictions of neighborhood enmity exacerbated by wildfires ("Ash Monday") and drug-addicted vocalists pretending to rediscover their humanity while recording a Christmas novelty tune ("Three Quarters of the Way to Hell"). But he's at his best in an icy portrayal of a contemptible new dad who exploits his baby daughter to enable his shiftlessness ("The Lie"), and in "Sin Dolor," the tale of a boy born unable to feel pain and victimized by both his greedy father and the amoral physician who sees only material for a revolutionary case study. Better still is the title novella, a rich reimagining of the story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron, a feral innocent who deserves a better fate than forced integration into "civilization," which inevitably destroys him. With each book Boyle becomes a more adventurous and interesting writer. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.