Fiction writer T.C. Boyle reading from his latest book The Harder They Come at the Tattered Cover on April 30, 2015. Wonderful, once again, to give a listen to—as well as to speak briefly with—the prolific, provocative, and profoundly-entertaining author, whose love of literature always proves infectious.
I have a background with Boyle: I conducted feature interviews with him, published by High Times in 1989 and Salon in 1990. (I also appreciated his words of encouragement when I was finishing up my novel A Western Capitol Hill; Boyle wrote of the early chapters that I sent off to him, “This is beautifully done.”)
Given that Boyle's early work was primarily satire—although he's written his fair share of dramatic literature, since then—I gave myself the assignment to ask him the following at the Tattered Cover:
What are your thoughts on satire, and the P.E.N. recognition of Charlie Hebdo?
BOYLE: You know I'm known a lot as a satirist and my natural play on the world is to make crazy sick jokes to keep from crying. This is what satire does for me...
[The Charlie Hebdo killings are] an attack on our democratic society and on our ability to live together. I stand for absolute freedom of expression--no matter what it takes. I don't know if I would have had the courage of the editor of Charlie Hebdo, but I think if a group, any group—and we go back to Salman Rushdie and the Ayatollah—starts to dictate what we can and cannot say in our country, we're doomed. So, I admire the courage of [the editor of Charlie Hebdo]: a kind of fatal courage, a kind of suicidal courage. But, I've said here before to you, I'm proud to be part of a democracy and able to be who I am and say anything I want and do anything I want without having to care about anything: I mean, that's our essential freedom.
United we stand up for satire.