Tales of Fantasy
Larry Rumley
Seattle Daily Times 9/23/79

The world of T. Coraghessan Boyle is one of wildest fantasy, satire and the kind of chance incident that marks our daily lives.
Scientific experiment gone awry finds expression in the title piece, in which a woman scientist studying the behavior of a chimpanzee, ends with her deterioration to the chimp's level.

Gluttony as expressed in an eating contest between a challenger and the champ ("The Champ") appears at its most nauseous, a comment on the curious social attraction this kind of contest really is.

And a satire on the nihilistic maraudings of Norsemen portrays the legendary adventurers as they invade Ireland and, after savaging the land, snatching the pages of a manuscript a monk is reading. The narrator shouts, as he grabs the sheet:

"Snatched it up; me, a poet, a Norseman, an annihilator, an illiterate. Snatched it up and watched the old monk's suffering features as I fed it page by filthy page, into the fire. Hal"

But Boyle also provides a shocking change with "Bloodfall," a tale of horror as the community is struck by a blood bath - a storm of blood that drenches the area, an inexplicable event with no indication of quitting.

"The Big Garage" with its threat and intimation of death, reminds one of Sartre's "No Exit," but "Drowning," which deals with death, evolves quietly, beginning simply, "In this story, someone will drown."

Someone does, purposelessly, one of three unrelated persons who come to the beach, each following his own inclination. One, a woman, and the second man, a disturbed individual, come together violently and briefly, then go their separate ways, but not quite the same.

Boyle is a writer of strange perceptions and immense writing skill. A contributing fiction editor to The Iowa Review, he is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Southern California.