There was this time…(pt. 5)

This one is more embarrassing than body-slamming a supermodel. Don’t worry, I’m gonna to tell you anyway.

My friends are good friends with a well-known author.

A very well-known author.

Not some slouchy, dime store, cozy novelist. A real writer of Literature.

No begrudging anyone at all with the creativity, determination, discipline, and drive to write a book. You deserve great kudos. This guy, though. This guy is what we aspire to be. And what I aspire to become a jackass in front of. Often.

He’s written books that are taught in college as examples on how to write books.

He can write the human experience.

He’s actually remained alive to profit from them.

And he’s a nice guy.

Then there’s Miss Clumsy Pants.

For some reason, this guy enrages me.

I read something of his in high school and it pissed me off at a molecular level. I don’t even know why. Despite that being the definition of good writing, I never seemed to grasp it. Literature degree from UCSB be dammed! Because that’s damn good writing.


So, the first time I meet him, decide I’m gonna tell him about it.

Okay, I didn’t decide. It was more like an evil gnome pushing out everything I thought about his work from 20 years ago that was unflattering.

It didn’t end well.

And didn’t end then.

For at least, 3 or 4 meetings. Because there’s nothing cooler than repeatedly running into the person you made an ass of yourself in front of.

…I don’t say that lightly. I introduced myself each time.

I’m sure he knew my name after the first time. Not only that, for some reason, I felt the need to reiterate my original position. The position that his point in his 20 year-old novel was wrong.

My Bachelor’s degree in the broad discipline of “English” somehow warranted me implying, “Go back in time, super famous and respected author, and fix what you fucked up.”

Which essentially was, “re-win your place in winning” these:

  • Rea Award for the Short Story, 2014.
  • Induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2009.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2008 (“Admiral,” from Harper’s).
  • Best American Stories selection, 2007 (“Balto,” from The Paris Review).
  • National Magazine Award, 2007 (“Wild Child,” from McSweeney’s).
  • Ross Macdonald Award for body of work by a California writer, 2007.
  • Audie Prize, 2007, for best audio performance by a writer (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal for Literature, 76th annual awards, 2007 (Talk Talk).
  • Evil Companions Literary Award, Denver Public Library, 2007.
  • Founder’s Award, Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference, 2006.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2004. “Tooth and Claw,” from The New Yorker.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of 9 best books of the year, 2003.
  • O. Henry Award, 2003. “Swept Away,” from The New Yorker.
  • National Book Award Finalist, Drop City, 2003.
  • Southern California Booksellers’ Association Award for best fiction title of the year, 2002, for After the Plague.
  • O.Henry Award, 2001. “The Love of My Life,” from The New Yorker.
  • The Bernard Malamud Prize in Short Fiction from the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, 1999, for T.C. Boyle Stories, the Collected Stories.
  • O.Henry Award, 1999. “The Underground Gardens,” from The New Yorker.
  • Prix Médicis Étranger, Paris, for the best foreign novel of the year, 1997 (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Best American Stories selection, 1997. “Killing Babies,” from The New Yorker.
  • Howard D. Vursell Memorial Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, for prose excellence, 1993.
  • Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree, State University of New York, 1991.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 13 best books of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • PEN Center West Literary Prize, best short story collection of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • Prix Passion publishers’ prize, France, for best novel of the year, 1989 (Water Music).
  • O. Henry Award, 1989. “The Ape Lady in Retirement,” from The Paris Review.
  • Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Literature, best novel of the year, 57th annual awards, 1988 (World’s End).
  • O. Henry Award, 1988. “Sinking House,” from The Atlantic Monthly.
  • PEN/Faulkner Award, best novel of the year, 1988, for World’s End.
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1988.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 16 best books of the year, 1987 (World’s End).
  • Commonwealth of California, Silver Medal for Literature, 55th Annual Awards, 1986 (Greasy Lake).
  • The Paris Review’s John Train Humor Prize, 1984 (“The Hector Quesadilla Story”).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1983.
  • The Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, 1981 (“Mungo Among the Moors,” excerpt from Water Music).
  • The St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, best story collection of the year, 1980 (Descent of Man).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1977.
  • Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines Fiction Award for the Short Story, 1977.

Just because some random chick who can’t keep her mouth shut said so.

Whatever. I know I’m right.

Surprisingly, for me, it actually got to be a little bit of a joke. Again, for me anyway.

Every time I ran into him, I’d wave from afar and he’d say, “Hi, Molly. Yes, I know. I know.”

I don’t read his stuff much anymore. I’m sure it’s still quality. Pfft.

Oh and hey! if you come across a character that won’t keep her mouth shut…

T.C. Boyle