Connect with us


Phuket books: Battle of the Eco-Warriors

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: T.C. Boyle is the hardest working man in the literary business. Like the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he writes seven days a week, and it shows.

He has written 13 novels and nine collections of short stories. His first two novels – Water Music and Budding Prospects – are about the 18th century African explorations of Mungo Park and contemporary marijuana growers in northern California. They rank among the two funniest novels ever written in the English language.

His subsequent novels are biographies of famous figures like John Harvey Kellogg, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alfred Kinsey, or ecological doomsday tracts about the clash of man and nature. They lack the wild humor of his early novels, but are graced with Boyle’s limpid, onrushing, extravagant literary style. Whatever he writes is a good read.

Like many of his novels, his newest takes place in Santa Barbara, California. Specifically, most of the action of When the Killing’s Done (Viking, New York, 2011, 369pp) takes place in the northern Channel Islands, Anacapa and Santa Cruz, called the Galapagos of North America.

The novel opens with a young married couple, Till and Beverly Boyd, on a weekend fishing trip to Anacapa in their newly refurbished cabin cruiser. The year is 1946. Tilden is a veteran of the Pacific War and along for the trip is Warren, Tilden’s ex-Marine brother. The boat sinks in a storm and Boyle’s description of Beverly’s fight against the elements is brilliant and harrowing.

At the time, Beverly was pregnant with her daughter, who would later marry a Japanese American fisherman and have a daughter of her own, Alma Boyd Takesue. She would grow up to become a National Park Service biologist with a mission to eradicate the rats that have overrun Anacapa to the detriment of native species of birds.

In this she is fiercely opposed by the ecological warriors of the Friends for the Protection of Animals (FPA), led by Dave LaJoy, semi-retired owner of four home-entertainment stores and new convert to ecological purity. An irrascible misanthrope, here he is walking down a Santa Barbara street after making a big public scene at his habitual breakfast restaurant:

“He’s walking now, striding along in his business-as-usual gait, forty-two years old and as fit as the gym, Dr Reiser’s Lotensin and blood thinners can make him, ignoring the cars lined up at the light with their wipers clapping and the exhaust coiling out of their tailpipes in the last petrochemical gasp of the black stuff pooled up under layers of shale in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria and Venezuela, the death of the earth, the death of everything, smelling crushed worm, rotting leaf and the wet acidic failure of the newspapers stuck to the sidewalk where the Mexicans tossed them short of the house stoops and storefronts in the grim, desperate hour before dawn.”

You can see how this style will do well to describe the upcoming battles over the next stage of the National Parks campaign: ridding the island of Santa Cruz’s feral pigs. In protest, Dave LaJoy plots of his own infestation of racoons and rattlesnakes.

Oddly enough, the biologist and the protest leader are alike in that they find their only moments of peace amid the solitary beauty of the islands. They share this with their lovers, Alma with Tim Sickafoose, a fellow biologist, and Dave LaJoy with Anise Reed, a Joan Baez-type folksinger who spent four and a half of her early teenage years with her mother Rita, a fellow musician and singer, on an isolated sheep farm on Santa Cruz.
They all love the islands and will fight over them until five lives are lost. In the end, Alma, abandoned by her lover Tim, brings her newborn daughter in celebration to Santa Cruz Island just as Rita is returning to her old sheep ranch to scatter the ashes of her own daughter. Through ancient Indians, Spanish seafarers, Italian vintners, American sheepherders, shipwrecked rats, feral hogs, the Channel Islands abide forever. The novel ends:

“The grass stirs. The moon sinks into the water. Night on Santa Cruz Island, night immemorial.”

The book is available as an e-book at or by ordering through all good bookshops in Phuket.

— James Eckardt


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand50 mins ago

Phuket relaxes checkpoint requirements to help tourists and health officials

Phuket51 mins ago

Phuket Covid-19: 2 deaths, 4 Sandbox infections, 10k total cases

Thailand2 hours ago

Facebook page that claims to sell dog meat met with scorn on social media

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand welcomes its first AI influencer, “AI Ailynn”

Thailand4 hours ago

Umbrellas out, more monsoonal rain in the wake of ‘Dianmu’

Thailand5 hours ago

Sunday Covid update: 125 deaths and 12,353 new cases

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand14 hours ago

Record-breaking 1 million Covid-19 vaccines given yesterday

Technology17 hours ago

Junk messages must now be blocked by Thai mobile carriers

Kanchanaburi18 hours ago

Abusive Kanchanaburi temple rehab centre ordered to close.

Phuket19 hours ago

Phuket begins new subdermal injection method for vaccines

Bangkok20 hours ago

Police bust hotel party with ecstasy and ketamine, 59 arrested

Coronavirus (Covid-19)21 hours ago

Phuket Covid-19: 5 new deaths and 4 new Sandbox infections

Thailand22 hours ago

Saturday Covid-19 Afternoon Update: full provincial totals

Phuket1 day ago

Phuket man finds 30 million baht surprise on beach: “whale poop”

Malaysia1 day ago

Transgender who fled to Thailand faces extradition to Malaysia

Tourism4 days ago

Travel data to Thailand for 106 million people unprotected online

Economy6 days ago

Cuts to import duty on alcohol, cigars, part of plan to entice wealthy foreigners

Crime5 days ago

OnlyFans content creators arrested by Thai police on pornography charges

Thailand5 days ago

Party at luxury villa in Phuket raided, homeowner allegedly assaults police officer

Coronavirus Vaccines6 days ago

Doctors say cardiac arrest caused death of man given AstraZeneca booster shot

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 days ago

Covid-19: Detailed info on vaccinations, hospitalisations, and provinces

Thailand6 days ago

Around 20 people arrested at Koh Samui restaurant for drinking alcohol, gambling, playing pool

Bangkok5 days ago

Governor says Bangkok will only re-open when safe to do so

Phuket3 days ago

Police suddenly began raiding Patong bars selling alcohol

Thailand5 days ago

Bangkok re-opening Criteria, Thai Airways keeps Struggling | Good Morning Thailand | Episode 93

Pattaya4 days ago

October Pattaya reopening on schedule according to mayor

Crime4 days ago

Ex-cop “Joe Ferrari,” other officers charged with violating discipline policy over suspect’s death

Thailand6 days ago

Morning Top Stories | No approved October re-opening, Phuket easing restrictions | September 20

Phuket7 days ago

Phuket domestic travel rules need streamlining, officials discuss

Thailand5 days ago

Government warns that posting pornographic material is illegal following OnlyFans creator being questioned by police

Thailand2 weeks ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11