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DOOM WITH A VIEW

T.C. Boyle may be the most cheerful pessimist in modern American fiction

@alexnazaryan

HUMOR ME: Boyle at home in California. His new book satirizes the possibility of humanity escaping a ruined Earth.

IT WAS ONE of those perfect Southern California afternoons, the sun peeking through a thick grove of trees, the air just a touch autumnal. I was eating lunch with the novelist T.C. Boyle in the backyard of his Frank Lloyd Wright– designed house in Montecito, the posh enclave of Santa Barbara where he has lived for more than two decades, raising three children with his wife of 42 years. His black puli, Ilka, played happily on the deck.

“It’s quite clear to me that our species is on the way out,” Boyle said casually, as if the scene had grown just a little too suburban. It is the novelist’s job, after all, to jostle us out of our comforts, while being entertaining—that is, to make discomfort pleasurable. Boyle has proved remarkably capable in this regard through his 26 works of fiction, which combine the zany humor of early Woody Allen with An Inconvenient Truth’s concern for our collective fate.

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