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The Relive Box and Other Stories


The Relive Box and Other Stories

“So we had a sense of humour about it, at least there was that. Or at least at first anyway.” It seems that no matter what era he is writing about, T.C. Boyle understands how to get at the heart of a culture and expose its very unfortunate and egregious moments and behaviors with both belly laughs and psychological insight. This is a time when most writers can only talk about our world, our crumbling culture, from one perspective --- their own. We are all joined together in a sense of disbelief, regardless of which side of the political paradigm you land on, but Boyle looks to the future and the past as a way to unlock some of the more ridiculous and disturbing possibilities that the last hundred years offers us. He’s going to do the comprehending for us through his vivid portraits of unique characters.

"[T.C. Boyle] is a seer, a prognosticator, an intuitive, and his work in THE RELIVE BOX AND OTHER STORIES reminds us of how broad and incredible our world is and how much more there is to experience."

Part science fiction author, part chronicler of the present, part historian, Boyle is a writer working with a large and expansive mindset and on a landscape that offers readers the chance to enter a number of different worlds. Whether it’s a man trying to build the biggest burrito in town or users of a “relive box” that allows one to go back in time to re-experience something from one’s past, these characters are not prey to a writer’s whims.

Each portrayal that Boyle imagines is infused with both a sense of reality that draws us in and a sense of something else, something beyond daily experience, that gives us a glimpse of what the next step could be. Faith, joy, unstoppable optimism and hope are all in decent supply --- or incredible fortitude during unflinchingly difficult situations (like a lack of water that creates a new intimacy for a longtime couple and a newly sensitive sense of smell for most people).

Boyle can be profane, sex still being quite the exciting prospect for people no matter what period of their lives are in progress and no matter where or how they survive in an ever-changing world. This is where things get grounded for him, and rightly so. Our basic human needs, desires, instincts --- these are the things that Boyle can believe in, the dreams and comic interactions only heightening our connection to his finely wrought tales.

T.C. Boyle is an American treasure. He is our American Chaucer, believing in mythology and in the basic tenets of humanity. He uses those beliefs to weave stories that are very much of our time and of a time we have missed, or that we are moving towards but cannot yet see. He is a seer, a prognosticator, an intuitive, and his work in THE RELIVE BOX AND OTHER STORIES reminds us of how broad and incredible our world is and how much more there is to experience. And these days, if someone is able to help us reconnect with our basic heart and soul, we should stand up and celebrate that Boyle will lead us out of our ennui and remind us why we are here. I, for one, wish to thank him for this work and his entire oeuvre for that very reason.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on October 19, 2017

The Relive Box and Other Stories
by T.C. Boyle

  • Publication Date: October 16, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco
  • ISBN-10: 0062673459
  • ISBN-13: 9780062673459