If the river was whiskey : stories

by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Paper Book, 1989





New York : Viking, c1989.


In sixteen stories, T.C. Boyle tears through the walls of contemporary society to reveal a world at once comic and tragic, droll and horrific. Boyle introduces us to a death-defying stuntman who rides across the country strapped to the axle of a Peterbilt, and to a retired primatologist who can’t adjust to the “civilized” world. He chronicles the state of romance that requires full-body protection in a disease-conscious age and depicts with aching tenderness the relationship between a young boy and his alcoholic father. These magical and provocative stories mark yet another virtuoso performance from one of America’s most supple and electric literary inventors.

User reviews

LibraryThing member gayla.bassham
I like T.C. Boyle, and I like short stories, but this collection didn't really work for me. I felt like Boyle was trying to hard to be clever. Boyle is always worth reading, but none of these stories really resonated with me.
LibraryThing member booklove2
I've been slowly reading T.C. Boyle's lovely short story collections in order and the great collections of collections sure help. Sadly, this collection doesn't meet the phenomenal expectations and extremely high bar of 'Descent of Man' and 'Greasy Lake'. On a sentence level, Boyle is consistently the best. Every sentence I could just roll around in my brainpan with all the vivid detail forever. I love digesting these sentences. Boyle never fails on a sentence level in every story. However, sometimes I want more detail to some of these stories in 'Whiskey', or possibly more of an ending. Maybe that is because I could live in a Boyle story forever. Maybe a final punch to the gut was missing in some of these stories but overall, this is another awesome book from Boyle. Most writers could never reach these skills. Just the ideas he has!
My favorites in this collection: The Miracle at Ballinspittle, Sorry Fugu, Peace of Mind, Sinking House, The Hat, The Ape Lady in Retirement
But these are tough to leave out too: The Human Fly, The Little Chill, The Devil & Irv Cherniske
Usually the only problem I have with the other stories is that they aren't long enough, but there are great details in each story to love & savor anyway.
Stars for 'If the River Was Whiskey': still five, though this collection isn't as good as the last two. Still some of the finest writing in existence.
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