T. C. Boyle Short Stories

“Modern Love”

A man and woman start seeing each other. He thinks everything is fine, but she’s very sensitive to the level of cleanliness everywhere they go. It seems extreme to him, but he caters to her preferences. The relationship progresses slowly, but he holds out hope that it will be normal.

This story can be read in the preview of T. C. Boyle: Stories. (8% in)

“Ike and Nina”

A source with inside information reveals the facts around the secretive love affair between President Dwight Eisenhower and Madame Nina Khrushcheva, wife of the Soviet premier. They had met before and had a limited amount of contact over the years. Paderewski was an assistant to a junior staffer. One day, he was called in to the Oval Office and made special aide to the president during the duration of the Soviet visit.

This story can also be read in the above preview of T. C. Boyle: Stories. (19% in)

“Sorry Fugu”

Albert, owner of D’Angelo’s restaurant, reads a review of Udolpho’s, a favorite restaurant of his. It was written by Willa Frank, a caustic restaurant reviewer who hates everything. Albert’s restaurant hasn’t gotten a review in a major publication yet. He wants Willa Frank to go to D’Angelo’s.

This story can also be read in the above preview of T. C. Boyle: Stories. (31% in)

“Balto”

Mr. Apodaca, an attorney, is talking to Angelle, almost thirteen, about how there are two kinds of truths. Her father was arrested and his car impounded. There are witnesses who will have their version of what happened, and Mr. Apodaca wants to be sure Angelle’s version is the right kind of truth. Her father had been at lunch with Marcy that day and was late picking her up. He seemed a bit different.

This story can be read in the preview of Wild Child: And Other Stories(13% in)

“I Walk Between the Raindrops”

The narrator and his wife are in Kingman, Arizona, staying at a Motel 6. He goes to the local bar to wait for his wife while she goes antiquing. A woman from the other side of the bar comes over to him, introduces herself, says she has ESP, and asks if he wants to play a game. He gently rebuffs her. She talks to herself and persists in trying to get his attention. He recalls a wild fire disaster, an incident when his wife worked for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, and a time they tried to play matchmaker.

This story can be read in the preview of I Walk Between the Raindrops: Stories(10% in)

“Greasy Lake”

Three young men are out late driving, drinking and using drugs. When they get to Greasy Lake they see a parked car. Thinking a man they know is in the car with a girl they decide to harass him a bit. It turns out to be a stranger who gets upset at the interruption; the confrontation escalates quickly.

This story can be read in the preview of Greasy Lake and Other Stories.

“The Siskiyou, July 1989”

A family of activists are at a motel in Oregon. Tyler is nervous about the job. Andrea is confident; she has more experience with this kind of thing. Tyler is worried about bringing his daughter, Sierra, with them. There’s a logging road nearby that’s always busy with trucks and woodchippers. They have a plan for it.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of I’m With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet.

“The Underground Gardens”

Baldasare Forestiere is a thirty-two-year-old Italian American immigrant living on seventy acres of California land. He tries to grow his own vineyard, but the land isn’t fertile. He works for other people to make some money, and starts digging more rooms in his underground home. He eventually meets Ariadne, giving him a new goal—to get her to marry him.

“Stones in My Passway, Hellhound on My Trail”

An accomplished blues musician, Robert, is playing in a club. There is a flashback to his youth when he saw a dog die. Between sets he spends time with Beatrice; another woman, Ida, looks at him intently.

“After the Plague”

A virulent disease has wiped out the population. The narrator was on his own in the mountains during the outbreak. A radio announcer said people were collapsing en masse, but the authorities were dealing with it and not to panic. He tried to get information about survivors.

“The Hit Man”

We see some vignettes from the life of a hit man, from childhood to old age, including some firsts and some deaths.

Read “The Hit Man”