T. C. Boyle grew up in Peekskill, New York, didn't go past the Hudson River until he was 21, and made his first trip "out West" to Buffalo to meet his future in-laws. But Boyle quickly made up for lost time; he published his first novel, Water Music, in 1982, became a professor of English at the University of Southern California in 1986, and today is considered by many to be the literary conscience of California.
Does that count as the West? It must, because tonight Boyle will receive the fourteenth annual Evil Companions Literary Award. In the early '90s, preservationist/ developer Dana Crawford, CSU English prof David Milofsky and Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis decided to create an award to honor an author connected to the West; they named it for a group of writers who'd met in downtown Denver decades before to drink, discuss their work and generally live up to the name Evil Companions. "Not only do I love the title of the award," Boyle says, "but I love the idea it celebrates: that literature is meant to stand a little apart from the ordinary, the bland, perhaps even the good. And, of course, the list of previous honorees puts me in very nice company, indeed."
For tickets to the festivities which run from $65 to $150 and include cocktails and jazz at the Oxford Hotel, 1628 Wazee Street, starting at 6 p.m., followed by the award presentation and a book signing go to www.denverlibrary.org. "And yes, California is part of the West," Boyle says. "Because we have the dry washes and the snow-capped Sierras and we ride horses and use our mules hard. And because we hang out on Sunset Boulevard, from time to time, along with the rest of the cowboys."
Wed., April 4, 7 p.m.