Tooth and Claw

Tooth and Claw

by T. C. Boyle

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Overview

Since his first collection of stories, Descent of Man, appeared in 1979, T.C. Boyle has become an acknowledged master of the form who has transformed the nature of short fiction in our time. Among the fourteen tales in his seventh collection are the comic yet lyrical title story, in which a young man wins a vicious African cat in a bar bet; "Dogology," about a suburban woman losing her identity to a pack of strays; and "The Kind Assassin," which explores the consequences of a radio shock jock's quest to set a world record for sleeplessness. Muscular, provocative, and blurring the boundaries between humans and nature, the funny and the shocking, Tooth and Claw is Boyle at his best.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143037439
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/27/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range: 18 - 17 Years

About the Author

T. C. Boyle is the author of eleven novels, including World's End (winner of the PEN/FaulknerAward), Drop City (a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award), and The Inner Circle. His most recent story collections are Tooth and Claw and The Human Fly and Other Stories.

Hometown:

Santa Barbara California

Date of Birth:

December 2, 1948

Place of Birth:

Peekskill, New York

Education:

B.A. in music, State University of New York at Potsdam, 1970; Ph.D. in literature, Iowa University, 1977

Read an Excerpt

Tooth and Claw

Stories
By T. C. Boyle

Viking Books

ISBN: 0-670-03435-5


Chapter One

When I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone

The man I want to tell you about, the one I met at the bar at Jimmy's Steak House, was on a tear. Hardly surprising, since this was a bar, after all, and what do people do at bars except drink, and one drink leads to another-and if you're in a certain frame of mind, I suppose, you don't stop for a day or two or maybe more. But this man-he was in his forties, tall, no fat on him, dressed in a pair of stained Dockers and a navy blue sweatshirt cut off raggedly at the elbows-seemed to have been going at it steadily for weeks, months even.

It was a Saturday night, rain sizzling in the streets and steaming down the windows, the dinner crowd beginning to rouse themselves over decaf, cheesecake and V.S.O.P. and the regulars drifting in to look the women over and wait for the band to set up in the corner. I was new in town. I had no date, no wife, no friends. I was on something of a tear myself-a mini-tear, I guess you'd call it. The night before I'd gone out with one of my co-workers from the office, who, like me, was recently divorced, and we had dinner, went to a couple places afterward. But nothing came out if-she didn't like me, and I could see that before we halfway through dinner. I wasn't her type, whatever that might have been-and I started feeling sorry for myself, I guess, and drank too much. When I got up in the morning, I made myself a Bloody Mary with a can of Snap-E- Tom, a teaspoon of horseradish and two jiggers of vodka, just to clear my head, then went out to breakfast at a place by the water and drank a glass or two of Chardonnay with my frittata and homemade duck sausage with fennel, and then I wandered over to a sports bar and then another place after that, and I never got any of the errands done I'd been putting off all week-and I didn't have any lunch either. Or dinner. And so I drifted into Jimmy's and there he was, the man in the sweatshirt, on his tear.

There was a space around him at the bar. He was standing there, the stool shoved back and away from as if he had no use for comfort, and his lips were moving, though nobody I could see was talking to him. A flashlight, a notebook and a cigarette lighter were laid out in front of him on the mahogany bar, and though Jimmy's specialized in margaritas-there were eighteen different types of margaritas on the drinks menu-this man was apparently going the direct route. Half a glass of beer sat on the counter just south of the flashlight and he was guarding three empty shot glasses as if he was afraid someone was going to run off with them. The bar was filling up. There were only two seats available in the place, one on either side of him. I was feeling a little washed out, my legs gone heavy on me all of a sudden, and I was thinking I might get a burger or a steak and fries at the bar. I studied him a moment, considered, then took the seat to his right and ordered a drink.

Our first communication came half a second later. He tapped my arm, gave me a long, tunneled look, and made the universal two-fingered gesture for a smoke. Normally this would have irritated me-the law says you can no longer smoke in a public place in this state, and in any case I don't smoke and never have-but I was on a tear myself, I guess, and just gave him a smile and shrugged my shoulders. He turned away from me then to flag down the bartender and order another shot-he was drinking Herradura Gold-and a beer chaser. There was ritualistic moment during which he took a bite from the wedge of lime the bartender provided, sprinkled salt onto the webbing between the thumb and index finger of his left hand, licked it off and threw back the shot, after which the beer came into play. He exhaled deeply, and then his eyes migrated back to me. "Nice to see you," he said, as if we'd known each other for years.

I said it was nice to see him too. The gabble of voices around us seemed to go up a notch. A woman at the end of the bar began to laugh with a thick, dredging sound, as if she were bringing something up with great reluctance.

He leaned in confidentially. "You know," he said, "people drink for a lot of reasons. You know why I drink? Because I like the taste of it. Sweet and simple. I like the taste."

I told him I liked the taste of it too, and then he made a fist and cuffed me lightly on the meat of the arm. "You're all right, you know that?" He held out his hand as if we'd just closed a deal, and I took it. I've been in business for years-for all the years but one since I left college-and it was just a reflex to give him my name. He didn't say anything in response, just stared into my eyes, grinning, until I said, "And what do I call you?"

The man looked past me, his eyes groping toward the red and green neon sign with its neatly bunched neon palm trees that glowed behind the bar and apprised everybody of the name of the establishment. It took him a minute, but then he dropped my hand and said, "Just call me Jimmy."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Tooth and Claw by T. C. Boyle
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Tooth and ClawWhen I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone
Swept Away
Dogology
The Kind Assassin
The Swift Passage of the Animals
Jubilation
Rastrow's Island
Chicxulub
Here Comes
All the Wrecks I've Crawled Out Of
Blinded by the Light
Tooth and Claw
The Doubtfulness of Water: Knight's Journey to New York, 1702
Up Against the Wall

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A dazzling new collection from a writer of "roaring intelligence and a curiosity that has led him to develop a masterly range of subjects and locales" —Annie Proulx, The Washington Post

"In T.C. Boyle's fierce, funny new collection, men are fools, women hold the sexual cards, and nature is full of surprises, few of them pleasant." —Entertainment Weekly

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Tooth and Claw 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Jamnjazzz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As with all his short story collection, Boyle creates many compelling worlds, characters and situations. And the beauty of short stories is that, although some may not pan out over the long haul, they are perfect for their own little niche of 15-20 pages.
the.walnut.falcon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought "When I Woke Up...," "Jubilation," and "Chicxulub" were exceptionally good. The rest were all strong but didn't grab me quite like Boyle sometimes can.
seventime on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oddly passive for Boyle--normally his short story collections are full of razors and nails and ragged ends of broken bats--but this one goes against the cover and title. Still good, but TC is mellowing out...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: duh... <p> Age is 11 moons. <p> looks: eyes blue and black fur. <p> personality: kind and caring. <p> if you need more just ask. Bye
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is at oceanus result one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Age 6 moons <p> Gender female<p> Pelt color all white<p> Eye color blue<p> Past was born to a loner has a bother and sister but hated the life of loner so when she was 5 and a half moons old he set off to find a clan<p> Personality kind of shy but hen you gt to know her she is really outgoing and kind<p>