“I am T.C. Boyle. I do word magic.”
Acclaimed fiction writer T.C. Boyle is scheduled to gab at the Crest Theatre on Friday night and I am ill-prepared.
This is embarrassing, but I haven’t read any of Boyle’s work. Hell, I only know he’s a brilliant author due to the kind of cultural osmosis that’s impossible to avoid these days. It’s the same way I know Boyle looks like a wizard and that the new Netflix season of Arrested Development is “disappointing.” (I won’t believe it, Bluths! Where’s that Forget-Me-Now?!)
The sad truth is, I’m a terrible reader for someone whose degree is in contemporary literature. During college, I made it through maybe half my assigned syllabus. Most of my essays were impressionistic riffs on whatever chunk of a book I had managed to finish, which I why I either scored super-high praise or WTF red marks.
And it’s not because I don’t like reading. I read all the time. My desk is cluttered with police reports, policy analyses and scholarly articles I’ve devoured and notated in the search of that fickle, bullshit concept we call “the truth.”
But when it comes to an author of Boyle’s (noted) caliber, I feel like what I’m reading should change my life. And so I parse the words slowly—underlining, scribbling in the margins, arguing with the narrator—and waiting for that door in my head, the one I didn’t know was there, to blow open and show me a different angle of the multiverse.
This often happens, and it’s often exquisite, but also exhausting. It’s also why I look constipated while reading.
So Boyle is on my list, but so are a thousand others whose words I owe my investment. Maybe I’ll get to him eventually. After the new season of Arrested Development, of course.
If you’re going:
American River College presents T.C. Boyle at the Crest
Friday, May 31, 7:30-9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Crest Theatre: 1013 K St., Sacramento, 95814; (916) 442-7378