Interview (Written): T.C. Boyle

A deep dive into the creative genius of T. Coraghessan Boyle.

T.C. Boyle

From The Paris Review, The Art of Fiction No. 161 Summer 2000.

What is the key to making people laugh?
I have no idea. It’s just my natural way — to be funny. I don’t know why that is. But as I’ve said, humor is a quick cover for shock, horror, confusion. The critics hate funny writers, for the most part. They think funny is not serious, but I think that funny can be even more serious than nonfunny. And it can be more affecting too.
How so?
Because you can pull the rug out from under the unsuspecting reader. In Shakespeare’s comedies, we know that all will come right in the end, just as in the tragedies we know that things just aren’t going to work out, not this time, uh-uh. Evelyn Waugh does a fine job of making us laugh at horror — think of A Handful of Dust — but a writer like Flannery O’Connor, in stories like “Good Country People” or “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” can not only make you laugh aloud, but make you cringe too. And make you think. To engage your humor and your emotions, that’s quite a trick. I’d like to think that I’m able to do that, to keep the reader off balance — is this the universe of the comedy or the tragedy? or some unsettling admixture of the two? — to go beyond mere satire into something more emotionally devastating, and gratifying. If that ain’t art, I don’t know what is.

For the rest of the interview, go here.

T.C. Boyle website.