Acclaimed New York Times best-selling author T.C. Boyle makes his Ecco debut with a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and antiauthoritarianism inherent in the American character.
Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people - an aging ex-marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son's paranoid, much older lover - as they careen toward an explosive confrontation.
On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, 70-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal - only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.
Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens' Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and nonapplicable. Adam's senior by some 15 years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam's mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic - a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.
As he explores a father's legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, T. C. Boyle offers unparalleled psychological insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.
©2015 T. C. Boyle (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
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This is one of those books that grabs you and doesn't let go. It's close to a thriller, a fast-moving meditation on the theme of social and personal alienation. The three main characters: a 70-year-old recently-retired Vietnam vet, his disturbed son, and his son's older lover, a far-right woman who denies the legitimacy of state and federal government. Each is experiencing profound alienation, and their actions in response propel the plot. The writing is excellent, the story is involving, and the narration is well done. It's not going to make you feel much better about humanity, but it's well worth the listen.
I am a lifelong lover of books. I got my degree in English & worked in the publishing business for many years. Now I work with wildlife.
I live in Northern California where the events that this book is based on played out. It was a scary situation and the local media could focus on nothing else at the time. I am a T.C. Boyle fan, and familiar with the story, but I thought I would pass on this book. I was tempted though, so listened to the sample, at which point I became hooked!
This book is a very good read from page one through the finish. The story pulls you right in and never lets you go. Graham Hamilton does a great job of narrating. This is T.C. Boyle's 25th book, and I hope he keeps right on writing. He is a master.
A most depressing read with bleak, static characterization and an anticlimactic conclusion. I honestly kept waiting, hoping for a twist, an enlightening moment, but neither ever came!
As long as I have my Audible, I'm content.
Definitely not a feel-good book. It did keep me listening in spite of it being so depressing. It seems like it was written by someone who is dispirited, someone who has given up on life and now describes it with an unflinching candor that almost works to cause me to be dispirited. Yet it also has this quality about it that redeems it because in the same deadpan way, he finds a sort of calm or peace, possibly even happiness, in the tiniest bits of life - in the bits about Carolee. The narrator was perfect for this story, maybe even makes it with his rather detached storytelling.
A novel so rare and true that it seems wrong to have merely listened to it. The closing lines are as beautiful and meaningful as Fitzgerald's " boats against the current". I am grateful for the mind and heart of this magnificent author.
A few days after I finished listening to The Harder They Come, there was a news story complete with a photo of a young man with crazy eyes. The author has a knack for making current events real. Reading the news felt a bit personal.
TC Boyle is one of my favorite authors. He is such a chameleon, he can believably write as any character, male and female. His work is funny, sad, insightful and thrilling. Sometimes all at once. From what I've read about him, he's a grounded person with a family and a comfortable life. I would love to know his secret for having so much insight and keeping it in perspective. Channel it into a productive pursuit.
I enjoyed the history lesson inside this book as well as the fictional tale. There is so much going on in every chapter. The tension builds darkly, and you know something really bad is going to happen. The book moves steadily towards this, unstoppable. Adam is no Coulter and the Wild West was a long time ago.
Couldn't finish this, in spite of an excellent narrator. The characters were just too off-putting. I didn't want to spend any more time with them.
TC Boyle gives us multiple points of view of unlikeable characters who engage in frivolous activities that somehow trigger a hardly believable schizoid episode of murder and mayhem improbably inspired by the Wikipedia entry on mountain man John Colter. Nine hours I will never get back. Skip it.
A 12-hour bus ride, to nowhere. I held on 'til the end, hoping for some sort of payoff, only to see it just trail off to nothing. What a waste of time!
Yes, to enjoy the underlying themes without as much attention to the outcome. It was suspenseful at times.
It explored the streak of American exceptionalism that has been part of the country from the start through characters who enacted this without really understanding their own motivations.
This was well acted narration with the ability to convincingly voice many different age groups and personalities.
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