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Boyles, Denis 1946–

Boyles, Denis 1946–

PERSONAL:

Born August 15, 1946, in TX; son of D.W. and Marilyn Boyles; married; wife's name April.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Baltimore, MD. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and editor. Has worked as a staff editor for Crawdaddy, New York Times Magazine, and National Lampoon. Also worked as a lecturer and assistant professor in Baltimore, MD; London, England; and Dublin, Ireland.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Three-Art Award for poetry, 1969.

WRITINGS:

Trashing Ladies (poetry), IMC Press, 1971.

Maxine's Flattery of Denis Boyles (poetry), Dryad Press (San Francisco, CA), 1976.

Design Poetics (criticism), Assembling Press (New York, NY), 1976.

(With Alan Rose and Alan Wellikoff) The Modern Man's Guide to Life, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1987.

African Lives: White Lies, Tropical Truth, Darkest Gossip, and Rumblings of Rumor—from Chinese Gordon to Beryl Markham, and Beyond, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (New York, NY), 1988.

Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere: An East African Traveller's Nightbook, Including a Summary History of Zanzibar and an Account of the Slaughter at Tsavo: Together with a Sketch of Life in Nairobi and at Lake Victoria, a Brief and Worried Visit to the Ugandan Border, and a Survey of Angling in the Aberdares, photographs by Alan Rose, Ticknor & Fields (London, England), 1991.

The Modern Man's Guide to Modern Women, Harper-Perennial (New York, NY), 1993.

A Man's Life: The Complete Instructions, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1996.

(Compiler) The Lost Lore of a Man's Life: Lots of Cool Stuff Guys Used to Know but Forgot about the Great Outdoors, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1997.

(With James Kennedy) Jimmy the Bartender's Guide to Life, Rodale Press (Emmaus, PA), 1999.

Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

Superior, Nebraska: The Common-sense Values of America's Heartland, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2007.

Also contributing editor of Playboy.

SIDELIGHTS:

In his 1987 work The Modern Man's Guide to Life, Denis Boyles, with coauthors Alan Wellikoff and Alan Rose, creates a how-to source on a wide range of subjects for men. Arranged as an encyclopedia, this book "aims to give advice and information about everything from making pasta to wearing the right clothes," stated Washington Post staff writer David Streitfeld. Other topics include aftershaves, haircuts, and women (a subject that appears often in the book's three thousand entries). More than 500 men contributed their helpful hints to Boyles for use in the guide. According to Boyles, not all of the information will be new to the book's readers, but it contains "little tidbits of wisdom that men don't usually share unless they're intimate friends."

In Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere: An East African Traveller's Nightbook, Including a Summary History of Zanzibar and an Account of the Slaughter at Tsavo: Together with a Sketch of Life in Nairobi and at Lake Victoria, a Brief and Worried Visit to the Ugandan Border, and a Survey of Angling in the Aberdares, published in 1991, Boyles chronicles his journey by train through East Africa. The author admitted in an interview for the New York Times Book Review that he used this train trip as "a device for threading together a few good stories and a lot of personal observations." Beginning in Zanzibar and continuing through parts of Kenya, Nairobi, and Uganda, Boyles relates tales of the people and cultures he finds as he travels through different landscapes. The title story focuses on the Man Eaters Motel in Tsavo, Kenya, Africa, the name of a now-abandoned location where, in 1898, a group of Indian railroad workers were attacked by man-eating lions. More than one hundred of the workers were killed. Other episodes in Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere encompass a confrontation at the Ugandan border and a fishing trip in the Aberdare Mountains. The author also analyzes white European tourists, dwelling on them "with delicious cruelty, noting how they … scurry over the Kenya savannah in their zebra-striped vans," New York Times Book Review contributor John Maxwell Hamilton commented. Washington Post Book World reviewer Judith Chettle reported that Boyles "combines this narrative with clear-eyed commentary on the way it is now and the way it was," and has "done it with wit, honesty, and a rare good humor."

Boyles wrote Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese during a time of increasing cultural animosity between France and the United States, with France leading the opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and Americans responding to this perceived betrayal by denigrating all things French. Boyles, who has a home in rural France, uses a satirical approach to suggest that these negative stereotypes about France are true. He describes a country that "looks great and seems swell, but … acts hideously." He faults France for "eagerly abetting the Holocaust; perpetrating more postwar anti-Semitic acts than any other country in Europe; [and] enabling and supporting state-sponsored genocide and slaughter in Africa and Asia," as well as selling arms to countries that are a threat to Western democracies.

Boyles criticizes France for neglecting human rights; protecting war criminals; ignoring the needs of its youth and its elderly; and ruthlessly polluting the planet while chastising other nations for their poor environmental records. Blog Critics contributor Damian Penny commented that Boyles's France is "militarily impotent, culturally inert, economically stagnant, governed by a hopelessly corrupt, out-of-touch business, media and governing elite, … overtaxed, racist, anti-Semitic, too lazy … and too self-centered." Even worse, Penny added, France is "astonishingly hypocritical in its dealings with other countries." Noting that the book occasionally takes unfair shots at the French, Penny stated that Vile France is a hilarious and often accurate pictures of a proud nation unwilling to face its dysfunctionality.

In Superior, Nebraska: The Common-sense Values of America,'s Heartland Boyles focuses his observant eye on the American Midwest. In an interview with National Review writer Kathryn Jean Lopez, Boyles stated that the region has much to teach others. In towns like Superior, Nebraska, Boyles added, "people appreciate common-sense solutions and policies, things that reflect qualities like self-reliance, tenacity, and resiliency, because those are the qualities that made it possible to settle and survive on those hard plains in the first place. Those are also the qualities that most of us like to think describes the American character." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Boyles a "good-natured guide" to this region and praised the book as an "amusing [and] instructive" examination of a place that many Americans do not adequately appreciate.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Boyles, Denis, with Alan Rose and Alan Wellikoff, The Modern Man's Guide to Life, Harper (New York, NY), 1987.

Boyles, Denis, Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere: An East African Traveller's Nightbook, Including a Summary History of Zanzibar and an Account of the Slaughter at Tsavo: Together with a Sketch of Life in Nairobi and at Lake Victoria, a Brief and Worried Visit to the Ugandan Border, and a Survey of Angling in the Aberdares, photographs by Alan Rose, Ticknor & Fields (London, England), 1991.

Boyles, Denis, Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July 15, 1978, review of Maxine's Flattery of Denis Boyles, p. 1714; June, 1991, review of Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere, p. 30; June 1, 1993, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Modern Man's Guide to Modern Women, p. 1742; September 15, 2007, Brendan Driscoll, review of Superior, Nebraska: The Common-sense Values of America's Heartland, p. 10.

Canadian Literature, summer, 1992, W.H. New, review of Man Eater's Motel, p. 214.

Christian Science Monitor, November 8, 1988, review of African Lives: White Lies, Tropical Truth, Darkest Gossip, and Rumblings of Rumor—From Chinese Gordon to Beryl Markham, and Beyond, p. 20.

Esquire, December, 1996, review of A Man's Life, p. 40.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1991, review of Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere, p. 574; August 1, 2007, review of Superior, Nebraska.

Library Journal, September 1, 1988, Michael Edmonds, review of African Lives, p. 164; June 15, 1991, Elizabeth DeMarco, review of Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere, p. 94.

Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1987, review of The Modern Man's Guide to Life, p. 14.

New York Times Book Review, December 25, 1988, Maria Thomas, review of African Lives, p. 7; June 9, 1991, John Maxwell Hamilton, review of Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere, p. 48.

Publishers Weekly, May 12, 1997, review of The Lost Lore of a Man's Life: Lots of Cool Stuff Guys Used to Know but Forgot about the Great Outdoors, p. 72; September 15, 1996, review of A Man's Life, p. 80; August 13, 2007, review of Superior, Nebraska, p. 56.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2005, review of Vile France, p. 43.

San Francisco Review of Books, annual, 1991, review of Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere, p. 24.

Virginia Quarterly Review, fall, 2005, Gerard Alexander, review of Vile France, p. 285.

Washington Post, January 15, 1988, David Streitfeld, review of The Modern Man's Guide to Life.

Washington Post Book World, November 29, 1987, review of The Modern Man's Guide to Life, p. 13; July 14, 1991, Judith Chettle, review of Man Eaters Motel and Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere, p. 9.

ONLINE

Blog Critics,http://blogcritics.org/ (June 30, 2008), Damian Penny, review of Vile France.

Denis Boyles Home Page,http://www.denisboyles.com (June 30, 2008).

National Review Online, http://article.nationalreview.com/ (May 7, 2008), Kathryn Jean Lopez, "Q & A with Denis Boyles."

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