T.C. Boyle - The Women

The fiery loves that populated the life of America's premier architect make excellent grist for an over-the-top melodrama. Wright's private life was shocking, lurid, the stuff of pulp fiction. For three decades and more, American tabloids thrived on appalling revelations about it.
In this book the reader stumbles from last wife to first. Narrating the story is a fictional apprentice, a genial Japanese man named Tadashi Sato. And then there's a co-narrator named O'Flaherty-San.

Why these buffers are necessary or why Boyle decided to employ them, we never know. What we do know is this: Every time the story begins to get some traction - just as we're pulled toward the next juicy morsel - we are reminded to look through a thoroughly trumped up lens. Eventually, Boyle's structure reveals itself as a steady, efficient machine against the natural drama.

How can there be any tension when you know how a story will end? Where is the plot when you find yourself moving backward? As they parade by in their tidy Japanese boxes, Wright's women turn out to be strikingly similar: They are conniving harridans with big scores to settle. And though it's impossible not to read on, Wright, too, becomes something of a mask: a cruel, self-absorbed, oversexed genius. Even his famous edifices never quite come alive.


 

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