The Harder They Come: Book summary and reviews of The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle

The Harder They Come

by T.C. Boyle

The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle X
The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2015
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author T.C. Boyle makes his Ecco debut with a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and anti-authoritarianism 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 towards an explosive confrontation.

On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, seventy-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 non-applicable. Adam's senior by some fifteen 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [Boyle] tellingly explores the anger, paranoia, and violence lurking in the shadowlands of the American psyche. A powerful and profoundly unsettling tale." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Boyle's illumination of minds in the grip and whirl of overwhelming fear, fury, and madness as well as stubborn and courageous love blazes in its specificity and empathy." - Booklist

"[Boyle's] hypnotic narrative probes the complexities of heroism, violence, power, and resistance" - Publishers Weekly

"Boyle's vision and ambition remain compelling, though his characters here seem like plot devices." - Kirkus

"This new work of fiction from Boyle presents a fractured threesome: a 70-year-old ex-Marine, his troubled son and the son's older girlfriend - a right-wing anarchist. A dark novel, The Harder They Come explores violence and the American psyche." - Houston Chronicle

"T.C. Boyle again explores his favorite territory, the American psyche, in , a gripping novel about an aging Vietnam vet and his mentally unstable son." - Tampa Bay Times

"The Harder They Come is the usual T.C. Boyle...circus of serious-minded zaniness." - The Millions

"The latest from a prolific and acclaimed novelist, The Harder They Come is a family saga that maps the relationships between the three people at its heart, as their potent mix of violence and paranoia urges them toward tragedy." - Huffington Post

This information about The Harder They Come shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Nadja Jackson

Deep character examinations
Maybe I've just read too many books where they describe the same sequences of events through different characters' eyes, or maybe I felt like he chose the wrong characters to describe the events, but there was something about the structure and pacing of this book that missed the mark for me.

It definitely grabs you from the very beginning, and I found the two main male characters intriguing and heartbreaking in their own way, but the female voice I found unrealistic and deeply unlikable. I was hoping for a book that would be good for book group discussion and this was 2/3 of the way there.

Can partially recommend for individuals, might prove difficult for a group.

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Author Information

T.C. Boyle Author Biography

T. Coraghessan Boyle is the author of twenty-eight books of fiction, including, most recently, After the Plague (2001), Drop City (2003), The Inner Circle (2004), Tooth and Claw (2005), The Human Fly (2005), Talk Talk (2006), The Women (2009), Wild Child (2010), When the Killing's Done (2011), San Miguel (2012), T.C. Boyle Stories II (2013), The Harder They Come (2015), The Terranauts (2016), The Relive Box (2017) and Outside Looking In (2019).

He received a Ph.D. degree in Nineteenth Century British Literature from the University of Iowa in 1977, his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974, and his B.A. in English and History from SUNY Potsdam in 1968. He has been a member of the English Department at the University of Southern California since 1978, ...

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