Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Women by T.C. Boyle

I've been meaning to read T.C. Boyle's work for some time. I downloaded The Women onto my Kindle a few weeks ago. The book was there for some time, and I eventually read it when I went to the London Book Fair a Kindle being lighter to carry than a book (and, since T.C. Boyle was an unknown entity, it also meant I could read something else if his writing proved to be not to my taste - but I needn't have worried).

I found The Women an addictive read. His writing is the sort that grabs and then keeps a strong hold of my attention. His vocabulary is excellent, and thanks to my Kindle I have come across a few unfamiliar words.

Frank Lloyd Wright was an early twentieth century architect of Welsh descent (and judging from photographs had a passing resemblance to my father, another Welshman). He is the man responsible for such beautiful buildings as the Guggenheim Art Gallery in New York. He was a visionary and innovator but, like so many men of genius, had character flaws. He was selfish, self-centred and something of a womanizer.

The novel centres on his relationship with four women: his last wife, Oligivanna Lazovich Milanoff who was a young Russian emigré, and proved to be long-lasting, then Maude Miriam Noel who was an artist, and actively pursued him before becoming his nemesis, and then, his soul-mate Mamah, a translator and suffragist, and the wife of one of his clients, who was only ever his mistress, and Kitty who was his first wife, married him when she was aged seventeen and gave him several children. Each of these women were interesting, but it was Miriam who seemed to dominate the book for me. Even when she didn't directly feature, she seemed to be lurking. She interested me so much I looked up the real Miriam and there are a series of photos here. Like all of Frank Lloyd Wright's women she was handsome - but the tumultuous relationship she seemed to endure with Wright seems to show clearly in face.

The story is told by one of Wright's students, a Japanese man, and his story was also interesting. I very much liked the way his story was revealed in the introductions to the sections, and through footnotes. It was a useful device to show Wright's racism (which was probably not particularly outstanding in his day).

Since I found I really liked T.C. Boyle's style, I have also downloaded his short stories on audible and have been listening to those in the gym. I like these so much I find myself looking forward to going - just so I can hear them. Today I ordered a few more of his novels and short stories. I am very happy to see that he is a prolific writer and has written twelve novels and eight collections of short stories and I am looking forward very much to reading them.


Blogger Anne S said...

I have read one of TC Boyle's novels, and agree that his writing is amazing, but somehow or other I never got around to reading any others. Now I know his books are in ebook format, I might just download a few - perhaps The Women as I have a thing for Frank Lloyd Wright.

Fri Apr 27, 07:09:00 a.m.  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Which of his have you read, Anne?

I have decided to start making a collection of TC Boyle's work. Considering he is a New York Times best seller I am surprised he is not better known and read in the UK. There was not one of his books in the large bookshop I went to last night, for instance. Maybe it is because he has such a strongly American voice and style (which I happen to love - direct, opinionated and energetic).

I'm listening to one of his volumes of short stories now (Wild Child) which are all good, and some of them truly excellent (IMO). He has a fine reading voice also. Pretty sickening, really :-)

Fri Apr 27, 07:28:00 a.m.  
Blogger Anne S said...

It was "Water Music", a fictionalised account of Mungo Park's explorations in Africa. It was loaned to me by a friend. I did like it and occasionally eyed off his books in bookstores, but always found something else more important (to me) to buy.

Fri Apr 27, 10:40:00 a.m.  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, one has to show restraint. Whenever I go into a bookshop I'm just hankering after so many...(but I shall have to get Water Music too now, obviously :-)).

Fri Apr 27, 10:52:00 a.m.  

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