American Writers, Supplement XX by Jay Parini

By Jay Parini

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One story, “Blinded by the Light,” is set in Argentina as the ozone hole rapidly grows. The narrator is isolated by his own denial that the hole is causing his animals and even his loved ones to go blind. There is little hope for humanity in the face of such denial; the crusading scientists are our only hope. Boyle manages to treat the end of the world humorously in the title story of his 2001 collection After the Plague. The narrator, one of only a handful of human survivors, allows an irascible, unattractive woman into his house in the name of procreating the species, only to learn that she had her tubes tied years ago.

She regards herself in dramatic terms, as an actress who must play certain roles as opposed to a real person interacting with other real people. In the middle of a disastrous reading (one she gives to combat a successful reading by her rival Jane Shine), she is enraptured by the thought of herself performing: “She could hardly believe it—here she was, La Dershowitz, holding them all, playing the role of the true and unpretentious artist, nearly drowning in the joy of it” (p. 328). The frivolity of this false sentiment clashes notably with the experiences of Hiro, who almost drowns a number of times in the novel, and who is forced to live with horrific deprivations and bodily torment in his earnest if misguided search for his American father.

Frumkes, Lewis Burke. “A Conversation with T. ” The Writer 112, no. 10:26–28 (October 1999). Grant, Richard. ” The Guardian, February 28, 2009. Harshaw, Tobin. ” The New York Times Book Review, April 25, 1993, p. 28. O’Neill, Molly. “At Breakfast with: T. ” The New York Times, June 2, 1993. SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS Descent of Man. Boston: Little, Brown, 1979. Greasy Lake & Other Stories. New York: Viking, 1985. If the River Was Whiskey. New York: Viking, 1989. Without a Hero. New York: Viking, 1994.

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