by T. C. Boyle
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Pub Date 16 May 2023 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2023
W. W. Norton & Company, Liveright
From best-selling novelist T. C. Boyle, a satirical yet ultimately moving take on contemporary American life in the glare of climate change.
Denied a dog, a baby, and even a faithful boyfriend, Cat decides that she needs a snake: a glistening, writhing creature that can be worn like “jewelry, living jewelry.” But when the budding social influencer finally gives in to impulse, buying a Burmese python from a local pet shop, she sets in motion a chain of increasingly dire events that culminates in one of the most memorable denouements in recent fiction, one that ensnares her entire family, from her eco-obsessed parents, Ottilie and Frank, to her frat-boy-turned-husband, Todd.
But there’s more than meets the eye in this compulsive family drama. Lurking beneath the banal façade of twenty-first-century California and Florida is a caricature of materialist American society that doubles as a prophetic warning about our planet’s future. An ecothriller with teeth, Blue Skies is vibrant, penetrating satire that reveals the inexpressible sadness at the heart of our existence.
About the Author: T. C. Boyle is a novelist and regular contributor to The New Yorker. He has published eighteen novels, including World's End and The Tortilla Curtain, and twelve collections of short stories. A Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Southern California, he lives in Santa Barbara.
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Average rating from 46 members
T.C. Boyle is a captivating writer. His prose move so smoothly. His characters are real. The situations they get themselves in worthy of our attention. He is always pointing to sections of society, of things we have accepted as fine or look away from, and saying 'Let's look again.'
I won't do a plot recap as though feel entirely unnecessary. With its environmental themes, well drawn characters, and the wide scope/microscopic investigation, this is another great book in an esteemed career.
This book is sharp! But this is not for the faint of heart. Some of the events are traumatic, to say the least.
The world is heating up. Climate change is a known factor and this family is experiencing rising tides and destructive rains.
Cat is living a mundane life. She fights for her boyfriend's attention and his commitment. She is still seeking a purpose in life. Her mother is seeking purpose as well after a long tenure as her husbands office manager. Her brother is seeking an etymology degree and her husband is retired.
As this family seeks purpose and a place in this hectic and chaotic world, the choices made are questionable at best. They seem somewhat undaunted by the effects, I for one, will always remember them!
If you like climate change dystopia, uncomfortable family dynamics, and dark comedic prose, Blue Skies is for you!
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T.C. Boyle - famed short story writer, teacher and student of the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop and prolific novelist - shows no signs of slowing down on this, his eighteenth novel. Blue Skies follows Cat, a down on her luck suburbanite whose quest to buy a snake leads to tragic consequences. The novel is a masterful blend of humour and pathos, that makes me want to dig further into the T.C Boyle catalogue.
For being another novel about the impending doom facing us because of our carelessness that has wreaked climate damage on our planet, this is one of the most witty novels I've read. For once, a novel that addresses climate change without being a dour, dystopian read. This novel deals with a family of four, three living on the coast in California, one on the Florida coast, and neither coast fare wells with the high winds, heat, and fires in California, and the nonstop rain in Florida, but somehow, this family remains connected and concerned. The father is a physician, and his wife ran the office of his family practice, but once she retires, her entomologist son's overbearing lectures about saving the planet have made an impact on her as she grows her food, raises bees, eats bugs not meat. Throughout the novel, the daughter's young husband is never likable. He inherited his mother's beach house in Florida so the young couple move there, where he obsesses over his Tesla, and their daughter, Cat, obsesses over her new snakes and becoming an influencer on social media with her outfits matching the Burmese snakes wrapped around her neck.
Not wanting to give away spoilers, things do happen to this family, and to some degree, they seem oblivious to much of what other humans would find as horrific events, experiences to grieve, but these folks keep the cocktails and take-out orders floating throughout their days as the water rises, homes burn, and the world suffers. Boyle's narrative is not only witty, but his prose pulses like the coastal winds making this doomsday scenario an engaging read.