Some of my happiest childhood memories are of the hours spent curled on my grandfather's lap as he told me stories. I later learned he began with nursery rhymes then as I grew moved on to stories of his boyhood and then to reading children's classics to me. Perhaps this is why I'm so partial to audiobooks, the pleasure of relaxing in a favorite chair and being told a story. In the case of WILD CHILD, the enjoyment is fourteen fold - yes, fourteen stories in the ninth collection by the eminent T.C. Boyle.
The powerful titular story is by far the longest, actually a novella, and based on history - in 1797 a feral child, Victor of Aveyron, was found somewhere in France's wilderness, and given over to the care of a Parisian doctor who strove to teach the boy the ways of civilization. Unsurprisingly it was a struggle; the heart of the tale lies in Victor's observations.
"Sin Dolor," features a Mexican boy who evidently doesn't feel physical pain. He' quite capable of burning himself with no ill effects or happily playing with deadly insects. It doesn't take his father long to realize that he can make money by taking the boy throughout the country in what we once called freak shows. The boy was compelled endure pain for ticket buying audiences. He exhibits "feats of senseless torture" and experiences an agony that is not physical.
Boyle treats us to varying situations and characters - a father who lies about his baby in order to get out of work, an escaped tiger, a town embroiled in a Creationism controversy, an alcoholic's treatment of his daughter.
All of these stories are vintage Boyle causing us to consider, to ponder our own actions and reactions. Doubling the pleasure for this listener was hearing Boyle reading his own works, bringing to each the nuances and emphases probably known only to the author himself.
- Gail Cooke