Award-winning author to visit Steamboat Springs
Stop is part of T.C. Boyle’s tour celebrating 25th novel, ‘The Harder They Come’
If You Go...
What: Library Author Series featuring T.C. Boyle
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Library Hall, Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs — Stories, no matter what form or genre, are essential to life’s complexities.
“We can’t live without stories,” said T.C. Boyle, a New York Times bestselling author, American novelist and short story writer since the mid-1970s. “Stories are so essential to us because we live in a universe that is often unfathomable. So we need stories to give us some kind of foundation in this place that we find ourselves.”
Living near Santa Barbara as a literary professor at the University of Southern California, Boyle said he wakes up every morning, reads the daily newspaper, “sobs over humanity,” then gets to writing. It’s his way of taking a step back to find out what it all means.
In his 25th book,“The Harder They Come” Boyle crafted the novel with a similar process. After collecting news articles about a series of events, he then pored through an extensive amount of research that included a 50-page police report and a walk through the woods of Fort Bragg.
On Wednesday, Boyle will share his story with an audience at 6:30 p.m. in Library Hall at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. It is a free community talk as part of the ongoing Library Author Series.
“I was living in my imagination and figuring out the how and why,” Boyle said about his trip to Fort Bragg. “The challenge is to enter into the character’s mind and get their point of view. If I’ve done my job well, the reader should sympathize with those characters.”
This particular novel was inspired by a news event that occurred in Northern California in which a lone shooter, who was schizophrenic and possessed automatic weapons, killed two people and was at large in the woods, resulting in a massive manhunt.
Exploring the morbid news content further, Boyle was able to dramatize the story with eloquently crafted charters. “The Harder They Come” starts in Costa Rica with Sten Stensen, a 70-year-old former school principal on a post-retirement cruise with his wife, Carolee. On the trip, they encounter an attack by three criminals that ends in Sten acting out of pure adrenaline and killing a robber. After a tense but brief inquisition by local police, he is allowed to leave, not charged with any crime.
Upon their return home to Northern California, the couple must deal with worries of their own, their son, Adam, a character who suffers from psychotic tendencies, isolates himself to the woods of Fort Bragg. His lover, Sara, a middle-aged antigovernment anarchist becomes his protector and propels the story further after Adam kills two people and flees into the surrounding woods, populated with paranoid marijuana-growers.
“T.C. Boyle is extraordinary,” said Jennie Lay, adult programs coordinator for the library. “He is a master of American storytelling and particularly the short story. We are really honored to have him visit Steamboat. He is an award-winning, esteemed member of the literary world. This is a big deal. ”
Never writing the same book twice, Boyle constantly shifts genres and his narrative approach. His short stories have appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, The Paris Review, GQ and more. He has also been the recipient of various prestigious literary awards such as the PEN/ Faulkner Prize for best novel of the year for “World’s End.”
Becoming a writer was never on the horizon for Boyle until he flunked his audition as a music major and discovered Flannery O’Connor at a liberal arts college. His junior year, he blundered into a creative writing classroom and has pursued this art form ever since.
“Artists are very lucky if they can find their art,” he said. “If you have a gift for something, you may not know it until you discover it and pursue it.”
Boyle received a Ph.D. in 19th century British literature from the University of Iowa in 1977 and got his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1974 learning from literary inspirations Vance Bourjaily, John Irving, John Cheever and Ray Carver.
Currently, he is in the middle of writing another book titled “The Terranauts,” set in the 1990s in Arizona. It’s a fictional account of the biosphere experiment.
For his first visit to Steamboat, Boyle said he plans to give the audience a show and will share his view on what it took to create a novel that exposes different beliefs on the way the world works.
“I want to turn them on to a story and allow them to get outside of themselves to hear this story,” Boyle said. “The beauty of writing fiction is that everyone will have a different voice or take a distinctive voice. I have to throw myself out there with no safety net.”
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Yampatika, an environmental education nonprofit based in Steamboat Springs, will host its 22nd annual Wild Edible Feast on Thursday evening, May 26, at Aurum Food & Wine.