When the Killing's Done

When the Killing's Done

by T. C. Boyle

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When the Killing's Done 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
KKR More than 1 year ago
The topic here is the war between PETA-like folks and Park Service folks. The focus is on a couple of little islands off the coast of California near Santa Barbara, which is the city where Boyle lives. Is the killing of any animal wrong, always? The vegetarian/vegan locals say yes. This puts them in direct opposition to the people in the Park Service who want to kill off an invasive rat population on one island and an invasive feral pig population on another. On the second island there is also, at one end, a sheep ranch; the sheep are also ranked as invasive. The rangers want the land returned to the foxes that were there before. (But how did *they* get there?) The cost is in the millions. Boyle balances the claims and the personal shortcomings of the characters on both sides. As in all his work, he is merciless in his dissection of a character's rationalizations and hypocrisies. I think he's a little harder on the ones united For the Protection of Animals, in that they are more self-righteous and also oblivious to the environment in any larger sense beyond animal protection. Their rather snotty leader owns a chain of electronics stores, for example. The most sympathetic character by far is Alma Boyd Takesue, a half-Japanese American whose grandmother, pregnant with her mother, survived a shipwreck off the coast of one of the islands back in 1946. The novel opens with a harrowing account of her experience. True, Alma's work with the Park Service makes her the one that pays the killers, as she sees clearly. But returning the islands to their "original" state is worth it, isn't it? Boyle lets the reader decide. There are a number of violent encounters in here, aside from the elimination of several species; feelings run high. Yours will be engaged, I'm sure.
PlankGeek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book's well written, especially the biological information. Some of the character development is a little convenient, but overall I thought this was a good read. Anthony Heald did a very good job as narrator, bringing the characters to life.
gmillar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting plot line which deals with an ethical conundrum - but - I felt that the author used many more words than were necessary for the plot line he chose and I felt that the author is a person who is really pleased with himself. Of course that feeling could have been instilled by the reader, and/or by the way it was read, but it was a strong impression for me. I haven't had such a strong feeling about an author before and I was quite disturbed by myself. I should now go and read another T. C. Boyle offering and see what that does for me.
booklove2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Channel Islands, off the coast of California, miraculously saved Alma Boyd Takesue's pregnant grandmother in a shipwreck, and is also the focus of Alma's life as a conservationist with the National Park Service to protect the rare species that live on the islands. In order to save some animals, she has to destroy the invasive species and not everyone is happy with that. Alternating chapters between Alma and Dave LaJoy, the animal rights activist at the fore-front trying to save any animal from being killed, throughout the first decade of this century, it becomes quite an eventful battle. It seems like many of Boyle's books contain characters fighting on opposite sides of an issue. He hints at the positives and negatives on each side, therefore there is never a chance to be preachy. He never chooses either side, he simply wants the reader to think.I can see a lot of readers not liking this book because of the characters. Some readers need to really love and feel sympathetic to a character, in order to stick with a book. Many of Boyle's characters are usually naive, cynical, hypocritical, not very likable, but that is what I love about Boyle's writing. You wouldn't really have an interesting book with perfect characters anyway. Boyle doesn't need to be another writer with perfect characters, because his writing has everything else. I get the feeling that Boyle rarely even likes any of his characters. Not all of the events that occur seem to tie together. Some things seem to happen simply to torture the characters. But maybe that is the point. Dave is so busy with his vindictive mission to make Alma's life miserable (and there wasn't much of a back story for Dave to say why, though Alma's story goes back generations, and Dave's point of view does occupy half of the book, after all) that maybe it was never even about the animals at all. Maybe in the war of human vs. human, animals and everything else in the world get lost in the shuffle. But then again, animals don't play nice either, with an especially traumatic episode involving sheep that Dave's girlfriend Anise witnesses, while she is living on the islands as a teen. The characters may have their flaws, but Boyle's writing does not. Boyle has an amazing, unique style. He uses a few words that require the use of a dictionary, words I've never seen before, but sometimes I just want to read a smart book. The prose is so alive, memorable and vivid, at times the book felt less like literature and more like life. Important things were said here. I'm convinced with Boyle's range of subjects, there is at least one book for everyone. This book contains elements of Boyle's other books. I was often reminded of A Friend of the Earth, East is East, Drop City, and The Tortilla Curtain while reading this one. Incidentally, these are all four of Boyle's books I've read, and all VERY recommendable. Especially The Tortilla Curtain (if any book should be required reading, it's this one). Boyle writes a mean short story as well. Visiting islands in the ocean, this was the perfect book to get away from all this New York snow. Keep those books coming, Mr. Boyle!
PamelaBarrett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For forty years I¿ve driven past California¿s Channel Islands, seeing them on a clear day is like glimpsing paradise, but I¿ve never stepped foot on them. When I read in Sunset Magazine about T.C. Boyles new book¿When the Killings Done¿I had to buy it, just to travel to the islands through his words, and he didn¿t disappoint. The story centers on Alma Takesuke, a woman who is trying to restore the balance of the islands by eliminating non-native species¿rats on Anacapa and pigs on Santa Cruz¿who are decimating the native wildlife and plants. On the other side of this issue is Dave La Joy, a wealthy entrepreneur who doesn¿t want the rats and pigs killed, and whose organization FPA (For the Protection of Animals) sets up protests, disruptions, media intrusions, lawsuits and anything he can throw at her to stop the slaughter.Be prepared for the roller coaster of Boyle¿s writing style. It¿s a never-take-a-breath adventure that starts with a shipwreck or two or three and puts you on the edge waiting for the next disaster to hit. There is some crude language, a little sex, and a lot of historical content that he presents in non-boring way. All the characters seemed like people I know, and there are stories within stories that he pulls together like pieces of a puzzle. He also presents all sides of this debate in a way that¿s not black or white. I read this on Kindle.
skfurlotte on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
T.C. Boyle¿s book When the Killing¿s Done is a compelling work. The battle between Dave LaJoy leader of an animal rights group and Alma Boyd Takesue a biologist with the National Park Service over the fate of the plant and animal life on the Channel Islands off the California coast is vicious. The sad fact is that this battle is also self-serving most of the time. The author has created a cast of characters that are, in most cases, unlikeable. The battle over the Park Service¿s mandate to eradicate all plant and animal life that is not indigenous to the islands and Lajoy¿s desire to protect all plant and animal life regardless of where it originated is the backdrop against which the action of the novel takes place. However, the most enjoyable parts of the novel are those which depict the people who have at various times made their homes on these islands. It is the human story that really is the heart of this novel.
ufjunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Both Dr. Alma Takesue, who works for the National Park Service and David Lajoy, a strong-minded animal activist, want to save the wildlife on Santa Cruz island which lies off the coast of California. But they can't agree on how it should be done. Takesue favors exterminating the invasive species (rats and wild boars) that are destroying the native inhabitants whereas Lajoy feels that all life, even those of rats, should be completely protected. And when their opposing ideas on the topic come into conflict, their emotions escalate until, finally, violence erupts.T.C. Boyle, as always, expertly weaves several narratives together, creating a richly woven story in which two people who should be working for the same cause end up as bitter enemies. Boyle's depiction of the island is so vivid that the reader will want to hop the first ferry to Santa Cruz, but for all the description, the story is a page-turner.When the Killing's Done is not only a gripping read, but a fascinating look into two characters who, despite their dedication to preserving life, don't really have much to live for. Both Takesue and Lajoy are miserable characters. Takesue, a humorless workaholic, is so gripped by worries over her carbon footprint that even brewing a cup of tea fills her with guilt. Lajoy, on the other hand, is so ego-centric and misanthropic that it's nearly impossible for the reader, or anyone else, to connect with him.T.C. Boyle has written many wonderful novels, and When the Killing's Done does not disappoint. I highly recommend this book.
grheault on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lots of killing in this book, and the Santa Cruz Channel does a lot of it with assists from rocks, storms, and passing ships. It seems like everyone is drowning sometime or other. Reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen enviro-detective novels set in Florida, fun book with comic characters who seem to specialize in doing themselves in. Particularly interesting, enjoyable if you know the area. The back and forth on ethics of interventions leads to a predictable seesaw stalemate. Attempts to recapture the past, it seems, are just that. I am a fan of TC Boyle from way back, and thank him for keeping on writing.
scenik1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is all strengths. Set in and around the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara, California, WHEN THE KILLING¿S DONE exposes our very human hubris in the face of Nature¿s unrelenting persistence and power. The antagonists, Alma Boyd Takesue and Dave LaJoy, each have a personal investment in the fauna of Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands. Takesue is the spokesperson and figure head of the National Park Service and responsible for restoring the native habitat for the islands to head off the extinction of some of the most fragile and uniques species in the world. Dave LaJoy, an extremely hotheaded entrepreneur and recently ¿born again¿ animal rights advocate, will go to any extremes to prevent the suffering and killing of animals. The tension of their conflict builds to a very T.C. Boyle climax. The book jacket says the book offers no transparent answers, which is essentially true; but given the final outcome for one of the main characters, a certain bias hovers around the denouement. It is, nonetheless, very subtle and difficult to clarify solidly, and the power of Boyle¿s writing prevails. As with TORTILLA CURTAIN, WHEN THE KILLING¿S DONE deftly draws the reader first onboard one side of the issue, then the other; and always through the characters, neither of whom is completely sympathetic. If fact, LaJoy is thoroughly dislikable, but one cannot help seeing his point and even hoping for his success; until Boyle then introduces Takesue and we progress through her efforts, dreams and hopes and find ourselves on her side, rooting for her success and LaJoy¿s downfall. The upshot is a revelation of the complexities of human stewardship of God¿s creation, although Boyle overtly leaves God out of the story. Still, the verse from Genesis (1:28 ¿And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.¿) that appears before the opening acknowledgments is carefully and powerfully predominant. The underlying message is, Life will have its way, whether through human intervention or some other way, and who is using whom? Our shipwrecks, our mishaps and our manipulations still amount to forward movement with losses and gains beyond our control, so it would appear that God¿s blessing is given and is upon us, no matter what we do, and is not a directive so much as a given.
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I liked this book but not my favorite of this author. It is worth your time reading but don't miss his other titles if this is your first of his writings.
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LouF More than 1 year ago
A decent read
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