Back in professional yachting days, my way of keeping in touch with the best writing around was the New Yorker magazine. If you aren’t aware of the magazine, you might well think it odd to look to America, and that country’s regular slaughter of the English tongue, to see new trends in literature.

However, the magazine had very high writing standards, and commissioned top writers for some really excellent short stories.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The unusual Mr Boyle ... A rather different writer. By Amrei-Marie - selbst fotografiert von Amrei-Marie, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,

I confess that I didn’t invest in a subscription. Well, I seldom knew when I'd be on terra firma and, anyway, because South African libraries did.

Within a few hours of reaching a port in that distant land, usually magnificent Cape Town, I would pass many hours catching up on trends, and on the magazine's gifted contributors.

Short story brilliance

These days, the web version of New Yorker magazine has quite a campaign going in UK to attract customers.

You don’t need to subscribe to get a taste of what the magazine rates as short story brilliance.

They do keep prompting you for a subscription, I should admit, but you won’t need a degree in computing to avoid it. However, if you have the funds and want to, it certainly seems a good investment. I don’t, thanks to extreme injustice which is why I am obliged to make do with the freebies.

And this weekend it introduced me to a new writer – new to me – who seems to have been around for some time, quite long enough to have had a library of novels and short stories published.

I got to know T. Coraghessan Boyle’s short story I Walk Between the Raindrops this weekend. Apparently he was known as the less challenging T C Boyle.

As I sit here before the pc telling you about it a few hours later, I confess I really don’t know what to make of it.

A strange woman approaches him

The story is told is such a strange way... I mean, we are in the thoughts of the writer as he arrives in a bar, waiting for his wife.

A – well - nutter of a woman approaches him and gets short shrift. He moves to another part of the bar and she follows. Then he complains to management about her.

This might be the stage when his insensitivity causes the reader to stop reading, perhaps preferring instead to lodge a complaint about his lack of humanity.

Only it didn’t stop my curiosity and desire to read on. True to the form, this unfortunate lady reappears later on – strangely melodramatically. However, other characters alive and dead are introduced and simply exit for good.

It’s very odd. I suspect that in spite of his different approach – or perhaps partly because of it - Mr Boyle is a very powerful writer. I can’t make up my mind – except that he has had sufficient influence to make me want to pass on his name.

Two new words

He did produce two words that failed to ring bells and that doesn’t happen every day – oenophile and stochastic.

Stochastic, simply put, means describing something that was randomly determined (Google quotes Wikipedia here) and perhaps the teetotal me ensured I didn’t recall that an oenophile is a connoisseur of wines.

This is where you’ll find the raindrops story on New Yorker. I’d be very pleased to hear what you make of him. As you’ll see from the link, he’s produced a lot of stories, with at least more than one on New Yorker magazine.

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

The short story on New Yorker magazine
Wikipedia's look at T C Boyle

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