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Publisher's Summary

Right on the heels of his New York Times best-selling and National Book Award-nominated novel, Drop City, T.C. Boyle has crafted an even more captivating tale with memorable characters and a rollicking plot that will delight both his longtime devotees and a legion of new fans. The Inner Circle is a love story narrated by John Milk, a virginal young man, who in 1940 accepts a job as an assistant to Dr. Alfred Kinsey, a charming professor of zoology at Indiana University who has just discovered his life's true calling: sex. As a member of Kinsey's "inner circle" of researchers, Milk (and his beautiful new wife) is called on to participate in sexual experiments that become increasingly uninhibited, and problematic for his marriage. For in his later years, Kinsey (a sexual enthusiast of the first order) pushed the boundaries both personally and professionally.
©2004 T. Coraghessan Boyle; (P)2004 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"One of the funniest...most subtle novels we've had about the hippie era's slow fade to black." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A vastly entertaining tale." (Los Angeles Book Review)
"Provocative....[Boyle] maintains his mix of irony and emotional fidelity with buoyant wit. In the end, the novel can be read as a case study of the price paid by ordinary human beings when they become the apostles to men of genius." (Publishers Weekly)
"An intrepid and astute interpretation of the revolutionary work and fanatic personality of sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey....Mesmerizing and chilling....Strong medicine from a phenomenally artistic, morally inquisitive, and unfailingly compassionate writer." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Boyle interrogates the interrogator

The detractors on this site miss the point entirely - both those who claim that 'nothing happens' as well as those for whom FAR TOO MUCH is going on. This book is not flat, or boring, but understated in a way that Boyle has not been before - all the better to take on these 'objective' scientists, using their own methods (the narrator is john Milk, an unrepentent acolyte of 'Prok' Kinsey's, and one has to be patient and attentive to allow the ironies emrge from Milk's all-too-human 'testimony') to eviscerate their pretensions.

As for those who complain of there being too much sex? Well, given the historical/biographical evidence, I'd say Boyle has actually restrained himself here - he could have gone into far more explicit detail. Instead, he included just enough of the lurid factual material to allow the Kinsey project to self-deconstruct. Context, people, context!!

Boyle successfully has the specimen-collector wriggling under his own pin. He demonstrates how pathology is inherent to taxonomy. He interrogates the arch-interrogator...QED

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Laurie
  • Albany, CA, USA
  • 01-03-05

Not sex-shy or just freakish?

Granted, this book held my attention for its many hours, although sometimes the dishes I was washing were more interesting. It has some very slow parts, and is a bit predictable, but the subject matter is definitely interesting. This book made me think about the separation of sex and science, and it gave a whole new meaning to "taking one's work home". Yes, some parts were disturbing, especially the musicale scene in the final 90 minutes (which gave me real heebie-jeebies), but I never thought it was gratuitous. Instead, the book has left me wondering what the real Kinsey was like...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carl
  • West Palm Beach, FL, United States
  • 06-07-05

Great Story About a Great Man

A great story about a great man without hiding his imperfections and humanity. Boyle is for the literary listener that loves great language, realism, and the humdrum tediousness that is the ground work for all great science and research. Wonderful!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Hawthorn Woods, IL, USA
  • 09-25-08

Facinating character study

I found this book to be extremely well written and truly enjoyed the narrator's performance. I thought it took a fascinating topic, the Kinsey sex studies, and gave it and interesting twist as told through the experiences of Kinsey's "apostle" John Milk. I would highly recommend it.

  • Overall

A Real Bore

I was bored with this book from start to the last five minutes (when the only interesting bit of action happens). This is about as exciting as a medical textbook. Do not expect to be titilated by the subject matter, but be put to sleep.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pamela
  • Sonoma, CA, United States
  • 05-01-05

Provocative material, and not what I expected.

After reading "The Tortilla Curtain" and "Drop City," I came to think of a T.C. Boyle novel as one rich in imagination, filled with characters that help texture the story and providing a plot that moves forward on every page. Although I enjoyed this read, I felt the author was limited by the real life of Kinsey and his circle -- a most interesting group of people who broke so many rules in their time that have made our time what it is now. I love Boyle's fiction, and eagerly await a novel that allows the author's imagination to shine.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Is Kinsey a jerk or what?

I am not halfway through this audio book yet, but I am forcing myself to listen to it only b/c it is better than talk radio during my extended commute. But I find myself truly disliking this fictional-version of Kinsey (how much is based on reality I'd like to know). He is narrowminded, boring, and one-dimensional. And I don't "buy" some of the plot points... the main character describes many things in detail, but then a major plot point (I won't give it away, but it has to do with a relationship b/t 2 main characters) is totally glossed over. But I guess my ire with the characters is keeping me listening to some extent. Oh, and the way the narrator does the female voices is rather annoying.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful