T. Coraghessan Boyle is everywhere these days. His latest novel, Drop City, a finalist for last year's National Book Award, has just appeared in paperback. He has a short story in the current issue of Harper's and another in an upcoming New Yorker. A new novel, The Inner Circle, is due out in the fall (an excerpt will appear in Granta), along with a book of short stories -- for a total of sixteen novels and collections of short fiction since Descent of Man appeared in 1979. Once seen as a bad boy made good (though still carrying about him that tantalizing whiff of sulfur), T.C. Boyle is now an established literary name. He's also middle-aged, married, a father, and a professor of creative writing at the University of Southern California. But time and success have done nothing to detract from his intellectual curiosity, his profound concern about the future of our planet or his vivid writing style.
"When I first came out with books, I was the darling of the press," Boyle says. Then came The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, which examined the problems of illegal immigration in the U.S. "I was attacked and reviled from one end of the country to the other -- it was such a hot-button topic. Now that book is accepted as a classic. I've been around long enough and I'm building enough of an audience that I'm being treated well in the press again. I just keep doing it and hope for the best."
His approach hasn't changed, however. "I am pleased to see how all the books are linked, and I have got a life's work going on," he says, "but I only see that in retrospect. When I'm working, I'm just working."
Boyle's tone is often knowing and satiric, but his take on his themes is multi-dimensional. Tortilla Curtain has comic elements but also moments of profound empathy. In writing Drop City, which deals with the sexual and social upheavals of the '60s, Boyle deliberately avoided the black comedy that defines most writing about the era in favor of a more realistic approach.
"It seems like such a conscious decision now," he says, "but in fact, each of my stories and novels begins with the first line and just reveals itself day by day as I go along."
Boyle will read from Drop City tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder. Call 303-447-2074 for details. -- Juliet Wittman
Avant Garden blooms at BMoCA
Before spring has even sprung, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art will shower patrons with flowers during the second annual Avant Garden fundraiser, a public exhibit and gala. And in keeping with that spirit, the art on display will be fresh as a dewdrop. Local floral and landscape designers have created unusual arrangements inspired by artworks on loan from Boulder-area galleries, and examples of both will be available for viewing -- and buying -- over the weekend at BMoCA, 1750 13th Street, Boulder. "There's a strange tradition among American art museums to do this sort of thing," BMoCA spokeswoman Brandi Mathis says of the event. "We're just following in that tradition."
And even though last year's inaugural displays didn't catch on right away with the public, the idea was just too good to let go. "No one could anticipate just how much fun and how beautiful the floral interpretations would be," Mathis notes, adding that tonight's gallery dinner is almost sold out. Remaining tickets are $125 and going fast.
A more egalitarian opportunity to view the show is scheduled for tomorrow, when folks of all ages can enjoy exhibit tours, tea and scones, plus garden-inspired creative workshops from noon to 4 p.m.; admission is $10 for adults and free for children ages eighteen and under. For more information, call 303-443-2122 or go to www.bmoca.org. -- Susan Froyd
Celebrate the expansion of the Butterfly Pavilion at tonight's Butterflies and Beaujolais benefit. "We're going to take people on a worldly adventure," says development director John Donovan. "Each exhibit will feature specialty hors d'oeuvres and wine. We'll have everything from a Polynesian celebration to a Mexican fiesta." Also on the bill are live music and a silent auction.
The insect zoo's new wing, which opens to the public tomorrow, is home to the 3,200-square-foot exhibit Shrunk. "It looks at your back yard from the viewpoint that you've been shrunk down," explains marketing director Wilson Porterfield. "We've got giant blades of grass and twelve-foot tall animatronic insects like a preying mantis, a scorpion and two carpenter ants." The display, he adds, "is the first major change that we've made. We're very excited about giving people another reason to come back."
The party goes from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Butterfly Pavilion, 6252 West 104th Avenue in Westminster; tickets are $50 and can be purchased in advance at www.blacktie-colorado.com or by calling 720-974-1863. For more on the BP, visit www.butterflies.org. -- Julie Dunn
Let It Grow
The Scion Art Tour rolls into town
A scion is a seed, offspring with new potential. Viewed from that perspective, Installation: The Scion Art Tour, which opens today for a month-long run at Denver's street-savvy Revoluciones Collective Art Space, makes even more sense. Although the traveling show -- sponsored by the new Scion automobile and put together by lifestyle marketing agency the Rebel Organization and URB magazine -- could be construed as a rolling advertisement aimed at underground youth culture, it's also an opportunity. Spawned by an event at the Los Angeles Auto Show for which top graffiti and street artists painted temporary exterior murals on Scion vehicles, the tour is a tip of the beret to ultra-hip artists who rarely get their due. "One of their main initiatives was to work with emerging artists outside the mainstream and keep them from falling under the radar," says spokesman Patrick Courriellche. "The installation tour is a platform for artists to get their messages out there." And the character-driven messages, delivered by such street-art legends as Asylm, Axis, Andy Howell and Dez Einswell, are both strong and comic.
Revoluciones, at 719 West Eighth Avenue, will host a reception and party from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday, March 5; call 303-825-3845 or log on to www.revoluciones.com. -- Susan Froyd