x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

When the Killing's Done: A tragic convergence of opposites

TC Boyle's latest is structurally almost identical to an earlier novel, The Tortilla Curtain: Boyle is too talented to write a bad book, but this is a minor entry in his extensive catalogue.

When the Killing's Done.
When the Killing's Done.

With his bushy red hair, matching goatee and rock ' n' roll wardrobe, TC Boyle has created an image that is a literary agent's dream, even if it contrasts sharply with his conventional, almost old-fashioned storytelling.

His latest, When the Killing's Done, is structurally almost identical to an earlier novel, The Tortilla Curtain: Boyle establishes two characters on opposite sides of a polarising issue, then follows the quotidian events of their daily lives until they converge in a dramatic, tragic conclusion. While the previous book focused on immigration, this one looks at animal rights - and the morality of how and why we kill some animals and not others - through an activist and a US government official charged with eliminating invasive species.

The topic is current and Boyle's prose is engaging and often beautiful, but the characters at times feel like constructs.

Boyle is most effective writing about nature and man's interaction with it but, that does not always drive the plot forward. Boyle is too talented to write a bad book, but this is a minor entry in his extensive catalogue.