Acclaimed author and Santa Barbara local T.C. Boyle will kick off his book tour downtown on Monday by performing from his newly released collection of stories examining the human experience.

The man behind The Women — a popular fictional biography of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright — will discuss and read from his newest work Wild Child at a UCSB Arts & Lectures event. The evening with Boyle will take place 7:30 p.m. Monday at Victoria Hall Theater.

But, Boyle said, this will be no mundane book reading. He wants students to enjoy his show as they would a concert.

“I don’t lecture, I perform,” Boyle said. “Students at UCSB will get a show, full of fun and entertainment.”

Boyle also mentioned his excitement about starting his book tour in Santa Barbara, something he has not done since 1998.

UCSB English professor Yunte Huang wrote a recent review of Boyle’s The Women, dubbing Boyle a “master of style.” In fact, Huang said in an interview, Boyle has quite a bit of wisdom to impart on his UCSB audience.

“He’s a great writer, pure and simple; a stylist, like Henry James,” Huang said.

In The Women, Boyle tells Wright’s story somewhat unconventionally — through the lenses of the women in his life. This fictional take on Wright’s life and accomplishments, Boyle said, set the stage for an entertaining story that is fun but still grounded on reality.

“I am an artist,” Boyle said. “I don’t really care if the reader is enhanced. I am creating a work of art surrounding his life. I dramatized his life for fun. All the material in the book is factual and the way in which it’s presented is interesting.”

Nick Orrantia, a third-year physical anthropology major, said reading one of Boyle’s earlier novels, The Tortilla Curtain, left a marked impression. The book tells the story of two couples — one a pair of immigrants illegally crossing the Mexican border into the U.S., the other a wealthy American couple — living in southern California.

Orrantia said the issues of immigration and assimilation highlighted in the novel opened his eyes to the harsh reality of what his ancestors had endured reaching the U.S.

“I found it interesting and inspirational, seeing as my family had to go through the same thing about a hundred years ago,” Orrantia said. “The American dream was given to me, but my family had to fight for it.”

Boyle, a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, founded USC’s undergraduate program in creative writing in 1978 and continues to lecture there. While he has a busy schedule commuting from Santa Barbara to USC, Boyle said he still finds it important to teach and lecture about writing.

“I don’t think that teaching has changed me in any way as a writer,” Boyle said.
“It keeps me from committing suicide, for one thing. I get to go out into the real world.”