Prof. Jon Frederick
April 2, 2013
Greasy Lake by T.C. Boyle
The short story Greasy Lake is written by T. C. Boyle the son of Irish immigrants. Boyle recalls growing up ‘as a sort of pampered punk’. We see this pampered punk attitude in the story’s main characters. I was completely captivated with the way events unfolded in Greasy Lake as they struck like bolts of lightning one after the other. Three teens’ summer vacation told in vivid detail by the narrator and buddy of Digby and Jeff went out of control intensified by every decision they make. We are told little of the narrator other than he is the driver on this fateful night. With the two previous nights’ bringing them little satisfaction, they choose to head to Greasy Lake. The narrator pulls into the lake’s dirt lot along with Digby, Jeff, and a bottle of lemon-flavored gin.The title Greasy Lake refers to the once pristine water’s now murky state, but the story’s characters come across rather greasy as well. The ideal backdrop set by Boyle for this night of savagery has many references to nature such as the “mysterious nighttime grass of Greasy Lake.” The images conjured while reading this story were dramatic and intense; I put down Greasy Lake keenly aware that I wanted more yet oddly satisfied. As I came to the part of the story where the boys attempt to cause a friend to “experience premature withdrawal”, I was not amused. The vulgarity was not my style, nor was Boyle trying to please the masses. With that in mind, I overall enjoyed this story collection. I was amazed at the depth of content for such a short story and could imagine myself standing on the shore of Greasy Lake with my toes kneading the mud, unpainted! While this story was a work of fiction, many of us can relate to driving in our parents’ cars and, regardless of make or model, feeling on top of the world. We can be oblivious to the consequences of our actions until we get knocked on our asses a few times.
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