The Goodreads summary for The Relive Box by T. C. Boyle starts by describing it as a collection of “raucous” short stories. To me, raucous means rowdy, which didn’t quite fit. So, out came the dictionary, which says that – in fact – raucous means “making or constituting a disturbingly harsh and loud noise”, and this makes a lot more sense because one of the words I had written down after finishing the book and was preparing for my review was disturbing.
I also wrote down dark, cold and depressing; there is little in these stories that could be described as hopeful – maybe the end of Are We Not Men?, which left me feeling somewhat optimistic . The rest, if I’m honest, left me feeling depressed. The world they present, which is probably our not to distant future if we don’t play our cards right, isn’t one I want to live in.
There are themes that run through the stories – technology taking over our lives in a not-so-good way in The Relive Box so that a father and daughter’s relationship completely falls apart; global warming destroying our planet and communities in Surtsey and You Don’t Miss Your Water (‘Til The Well Runs Dry); illnesses no antibiotics can cure in The Fugtive; and the idea that we deserve more than we have in The Five-Pound Burrito and She’s The Bomb.
By the time I was done, not only did I feel depressed and down on life, I also felt exhausted because – despite how dark and unoptimistic the stories were – they were also compelling and incredibly well written. Once I’d started, I couldn’t put this book down. Each tale told a complete story and had characters that jumped off the page.
And they made me think. I would deny anyone not to finish this book and not think how do we stop this happening? With this in mind, it probably won’t be a book for everyone but, for me, it was perfect. I loved it.
About this book…
A raucous collection of short stories from the astonishingly inventive and bestselling writer of The Harder They Come and The Terranauts
While T. C. Boyle is known as one of our greatest American novelists, he is also an acknowledged master of the short story. In The Relive Box, his first collection following two hugely influential collected volumes, Boyle’s crackling wit and thematic range combine with a penetrating social consciousness to produce his trademark “inventive and often crushingly comic” (NPR) short fiction.
From the title story, featuring a so-called relive box that allows users to experience anew almost any moment from their past, to “The Five-Pound Burrito,” the tale of a man aiming to build the biggest burrito in town, the twelve stories in this collection represent a whole new way of looking at the world from one of the best storytellers at work today.
The Relive Box is an exuberant, linguistically dazzling book from someone the Boston Globe has said is “such a good storyteller it will probably take, as in Alice Munro’s case, the Nobel Prize or retirement for us to realize what tremendous talent has lain right in front of our noses.”
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: 5th October, 2017
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Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings, and opinions are my own.