5100kiSL-PL._AA160_T.C. Boyle is a writer who’s created a very uneven path for me to follow. I give you, for example, his superb novelized bio of Frank Lloyd Wright–The Women— followed by his disappointing take on Cyrus McCormack–Riven Rock . I’ve quit on him, then returned a few times. The Harder They Come is his newest and, I’m glad to say, one of his best. Its attractions for me are many, but one of the chief ones is the geography. The action is concentrated around a Northern California region I know pretty well–Willits, Fort Bragg, Mendocino. Small coastal and foothill communities surrounded by a lot of semi-wilderness. It’s a place where people go to escape the urban madness, pursue their art,  raise some goats in a communal environment, meditate their days away, enjoy the ocean, grow drugs, practice survival skill in anticipation of the days of the black helicopters, or any number of other semi-reclusive activities.

Into this environment, Boyle throws a retired high school principal with a military background and a bed temper, his schizoid son, and a would be vet lady who believes in personal sovereignty to the extent that she thinks no California laws apply to her because she has no contract with state governments (it’s in the 14th amendment. You can look it up.), and some suspect hispanics. Those are the central people. There are a number of other fascinating individuals, all of whom interact with skillful dynamics with Boyle at his very

Absorbing, energetic, original. Pick it up and have some fun.

sitting up clapping

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