T.C. Boyle’s Zombie Cocktail and Stuffed Camel
by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
T.C., you look tough in your press pictures. Have you ever gotten in a bar fight? If a big burly guy comes after you, what are some fighting moves you'd do to take him down?
I am extremely tough. Mentally, that is. As for physical toughness, I can still scramble up a rock face with the best of them, but at 6'3" and 160 pounds, I am hardly ready to take on any NFL linebackers. As for burly guys coming after me in bars, I usually just step aside and let my bodyguard pound them to the consistency of hamburger, after which my lawyer sues them and my cardiologist removes their hearts.
If you had to pick a reality TV show to be in, which one would you choose?
I am a TV virgin and so do not know of any of these dreary and moronic shows.
Alaska. Your most recent book Drop City takes place in our most northern state. I'm not familiar with Alaska. I imagine a lot of moose and grizzly bears and people with long beards. Tell me how right or wrong I am.
You are absolutely right. The Alaskans I met, both in the cities and in the interior, were delighted to see me, principally because I was someone new (as opposed to all the other guys--and girls--sporting beards, with whom they'd been locked away in those dark bars during the endless dark winter).
You like to serve social issues with a nice helping of both gloom and comedy. What do you think about civilization and society right now? Is there any hope for us?
We are doomed, imminently. Sorry, folks, but that is how it is when you're so successful at breeding.
If you can select the next animal to succeed us as intelligent tyrants of this planet, what'll it be?
The next animal? The guinea pig. Why? Because of their fierceness. If you put two guinea pigs in a cage overnight, there will be one left in the morning. If you put one guinea pig in a cage overnight, there will be nothing but a set of teeth left in the morning, the sad result of autophagia.
Your next book Inner Circle is set in the 40s and 50s. It's about human sexuality, with much to do about the Kinsey reports. How did that idea come to you?
Kinsey is a natural for me, as his obsession was with the mechanism of reproductive biology in our species, as opposed to the emotional factors. I came to him a few years back after reading Halberstam's The Fifties. I had a marvelous time with the book, which is now complete and on its way to my publisher (as of early July, 2003, that is). Readers will want to compare my Kinsey with Dr. Kellogg of The Road to Wellville, I think.
Tell us more about the recipes below. Do camels go well with horseradish?
Good question. The recipe does leave out the condiments, but yes, horseradish is the ticket. As far as the Zombie is concerned, I must say that rum drinks were Kinsey's favorite, not that he was much of drinker--he just loved the idea of mixing exotic concoctions.
T.C. Boyle's ZOMBIE COCKTAIL from the upcoming book Inner Circle
2 parts dark rum
1 part light rum
1 part apricot brandy
float of 151 rum
Makes one potent drink.
T.C. Boyle's BAKED CAMEL (STUFFED) from Water Music
200 plover eggs
20 two-pound carp
4 bustards, cleaned and plucked
1 large camel
Dig trench. Reduce inferno to hot coals, three feet in depth. Separately hard-cook eggs. Scale carp and stuff with shelled eggs and dates. Season bustards and stuff with stuffed carp. Stuff stuffed bustards into sheep and stuffed sheep into camel. Singe camel. Then wrap in leaves of doum palm and bury in pit. Bake two days. Serve with rice.
T. Coraghessan Boyle is the author of fifteen books of fiction, including, most recently, A Friend of the Earth, After the Plague, and Drop City. His stories have appeared in most of the major American magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, The Paris Review, GQ, Antaeus and Granta, and he has been the recipient of a number of literary awards. He currently lives near Santa Barbara with his wife and three children.