There's Something Kinda Punk Rock about You, TC Boyle

I stopped by Tom's office yesterday to get his signature for my qualifying committee forms + also shoot the shit. I haven't chatted with him in quite awhile except for the occasional email. I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. Among the many highlights of our conversation, we talked about:

1. Tom's relationship with John Cheever at the Iowa Writers Workshop (IWW) who apparently was always drunk all the time, but was also gentle, insightful + brilliant considering he got kicked out of high school for smoking + never returned.

2. Tom's relationship with Raymond Carver, who he said, like John Cheever, drank and smoked all the fucking time. TC Boyle told me that for a while, Iowa was distancing itself from Raymond Carver, but that he + all of his classmates thought that Carver was a genius + that once the NYT Review of Books starting heaping a shitload of praise on Carver's work, the IWW asked him to teach a workshop.

3. Lan Samantha Chang, who Tom calls "Sam." I confessed to Tom that I wasn't particularly impressed with Hunger + that I'd read other Iowa fiction writers that I was much more impressed with. Tom said he hadn't read Hunger, but agreed that he didn't think she was an amazing writer based on the stories he'd read of hers, but he also argued that she had the hardest job in creative writing, which is probably true. I wouldn't want that gig. Too much pressure, man.

4. Dave Eggers, who Tom said was one of the nicest guys in the business. Not a great writer or a great reader, for that matter, an evaluation I happen to agree with having met Dave at his book signing at the Notre Dame Literary Festival back in 2006, but by all means, an important writer if for no other reason than his 826 volunteer organization, the creation of McSweeney's, The Believer, his political engagement of Sudanese causes + his annual Nonrequired Reading Anthology are all awesome, important + amazing literary things that make this world a better place. But in terms of Eggers's reading persona, that's a totally different deal. In fact, Tom mentioned that while he liked Dave Eggers a lot as a person, he found his performance as a public reader left much to be desired, in part because instead of actually reading his novel to his audience/fangirls/fanboys, Eggers mostly talks about random shit, cracks jokes, tells stories, which Tom sees as belittling Egger's own writing. And I have to say: I agree.

Near the end of our chat, I told Tom that I knew there was a reason that I always wanted to work with him when I was working on my MFA: --There's something kinda punk rock about your attitude as a writer that I really enjoy, I said, in part because it happens to be close to my own vision, though I lack the awards.
--Oh, they'll come, he said, and someday when your novel is getting a lot of buzz, you'll have to deal with all of this too.
--Well, anyway, I guess I see a kindred spirit.
That's when Tom smiled, we shook hands + said goodbye. It was a perfect chat with TC Boyle.