T.C. Boyle is a Southern California-based fiction writer.
When the Killing's Done, Wild Child, The Women, The Human Fly, The Tortilla Curtain, East Is East, Descent of Man
Recipient of the 1988 PEN/Faulkner award (World's End) and the Prix Médicis Étranger for best foreign novel in France (The Tortilla Curtain, 1997).
Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat, and The Collected Stories of John Cheever. Miller's heart-wrenching play gives insight into our society's obsession with commercial/monetary success. The Steinbeck book represents the opposite pole, in this hilarious and utterly charming novel about a group of "paisanos" in Monterey who live only for the pleasure of the moment. Finally, Cheever's stories not only provide a unique insight into his generation of Americans but also deal with their bruised aspirations and the malaise of a consumer society.
Who in your childhood–for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?
My mother taught me to read, as I was too hyperactive to get by very well in class. The earliest books I remember were animal books, such as those by Albert Payson Terhune, Jack London and the like. And then there was my eighth-grade English teacher, Donald Grant, who read some of the hair-raising chestnuts aloud to us, stories like "To Build a Fire," "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Monkey's Paw."
Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?
The foreign authors who were hugely important to me when I first began to write were Garcia-Márquez, Borges, Cortázar, Günter Grass, Beckett, Genet, Ionesco, Gide, Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis and a host of others too numerous to name here.