A review ofModern Love and Other Tall Tales:
With prose as clean as Hemingways and a Kafka-esque sense of the absurd, Greg Boyd delivers a memorable book inModern Love and Other Tall Tales. But these tales are not quite so tall as the title might suggest; in fact, their distinction lies in the way they negotiate a fine line between veracity and the farcical.
Each narrator seems to fancy himself the rational one while elaborating the most bizarre situation with little or no comment. Boyd exploits this irony by mingling a crushing sense of isolation with a host of eccentric, straight-faced characters whose predicaments become the readers source of stupefaction and endless mirth. In Horny, a man walks around town carrying a heavy wood cross on his back, convinced that suffering will erase his primal instincts; listen is a one-sided conversation in which the narrator formulates a sad and defensive logic that falls on dead ears oras one might imagineno ears at all; and The Further Adventures of Tom, Huck, and Jim transports Twains classic characters to Southern California and brings us hilariously up to date.
ButModern Loveisnt just one laugh after another. Though Boyd makes light of unfortunate circumstances, there is an underlying feeling of loneliness and sadness throughout, as if his characters idiosyncrasies were born from an acute sense of helplessness or an inability to participate in or relate to typical activities. The characters themselves seem real but flimsy, as if they will at any moment be blown off the page by a Kafkan ill wind, as if they were all once, as in Unglued, shy and sickly, largely ignored by the other children.
Boyds writing, like his characters, is straightforward and descriptive. Theres no need for verbal trickery here because the authors imagination provides us with more than enough to digest. InModern Loveits quite possible to become so engrossed in a story tl“-
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