How TC Boyle Finds His Endings

By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature. See entries from Jonathan Franzen, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, and more.

Doug McLean

T. C. Boyle has never written the same book twice. Across 15 novels and well over 100 short stories, he’s consistently shifted genre, historical epoch and narrative approach. (“I exclude no form or mode,” he once told the Paris Review).

But there’s at least one thing Boyle looks for consistently: an ending that opens the work up with a new, almost magical sense of possibility. In our conversation for this series, he analyzed how Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral” pulls off an uncanny sleight of hand by bringing the story to a place readers never dreamed it could go. We discussed how Carver opened up Boyle’s stylistic palette, why he never knows the

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