Tuesday, April 14, 2015
8:00pm (Reception 6:30-7:30pm)
in conversation with Susan Orlean
discussing the writing life and his novel
The Harder They Come
William Turner Gallery
Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Avenue,
Santa Monica, CA 90404
$20 General Admission
$30 Reserved Section Seats
$43 Includes Boyle’s book + Seats in reserved section
$95 Includes pre-event reception + Boyle’s book + Reserved Seats
We’re excited to be hosting T.C. Boyle presenting his 25th book, The Harder They Come.
Tom Coraghessan Boyle is a novelist and short story writer. Since the mid-1970s, he has published fourteen novels and more than 100 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988, for his third novel, World’s End, and the Prix Médicis étranger (France) for The Tortilla Curtain in 1995. His stories have won accolades for their irony and black humor, for their verbal pyrotechnics, for their fascination with everything bizarre and queasy, and for the razor-sharp way in which they dissect America’s obsession with image and materialism. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.
With its roots in actual events, The Harder They Come is set in Northern California—a landscape that Boyle knows well. While vacationing in Costa Rica, seventy-year-old Sten Stensen kills a gun-wielding assailant and returns home a reluctant hero. There, he is reunited with his paranoid son, Adam. Though protected by his older, damaged lover, Sara—a right wing anarchist—Adam inevitably spirals out of control. After killing two people, he flees into the surrounding primeval woods. Sten, confronting his own legacy of violence, is powerless in taming his troubled son.
“The Harder They Come was inspired by two stories reported in the news,” Boyle explains, “which provided the germ of the idea of examining the anti-authoritarianism and violence that are integral to our character (as indicated in the epigraph from D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has not yet melted.”) The first was the report of an elderly man attacked in Central America while on a tour with a busload of his coevals; the second was the case of a schizophrenic young man (a shooter) whose delusions caused him to murder two strangers and take to the wilderness around Fort Bragg, California, resulting in the biggest manhunt in California history. The research and writing, in toto, took just over a year and a half, and involved tramping the dense forests of the northern coast, in a location that reprises the setting of my second novel, Budding Prospects, which took place just up the road in Willits. While the earlier novel was comedic, taking an ironic (and zany) view of Lawrence’s proposition, The Harder They Come takes a darker, Faulknerian view.”
Susan Orlean, the author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend and The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession, has been called “a kind of latter-day Tocqueville” (The New York Times Book Review). Orlean is fascinated by American stories of every stripe. From Rin Tin Tin, the orphaned German shepherd who became a silent film star in the 1920’s, to John Laroche, the convicted felon who slinks through the swamps of southern Florida looking for rare orchids, Orlean has an eye for the moving, the hilarious, and the surprising. She has written for The Boston Globe,Vogue, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Outside, and The New Yorker, and has edited both Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing. Orlean’s writing has inspired two films, includingAdaptation, the Academy Award-winning film directed by Spike Jonze and starring Meryl Streep. Orlean lectures on Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, her encounters with extraordinary people, her experiences traveling the world, the value of ignorance, and women and the media.