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First published in Paris Review 84 (Spring 1982): 14-24. 

Walker, Michael.  "Boyle's 'Greasy Lake' and the Moral Failure of Postmodernism."  Studies in Short Fiction 31:2 (Spring 1994): 247-255.  ISSN: 0039-3789.  In English. 

Posted by su on June 16, 2000:

Hello:  I am a college student.I read the story -"Ggreasy Lkake". I don't get a clue about this story. Could somebody analysis the story and tell me the theme about this story 

Posted by sandye on June 16, 2000:
dear su,

read the link below. it contains answers given by T.C. Boyle in response to other questions about Greasy Lake.

      Answer to Question #24-Greasy Lake (from sandye's FAQ)

Posted by Jef Tombeur on June 16, 2000:

> I read the story -"Ggreasy Lkake". I don't get a clue about this story. 

Dear Sue,
In computer linguo, we had this : RTFM (Read the Fucking Manual). So, read previous messages first.

The story is about coming of age, which is no longer mimicking adults, but acting like an adult (or miming adults, but really Actor's Studio like). So, it's a story about boys wanting to be really bad, and have nuns doing fellatio to them (again, read previous messages). But somehow, there's some unexpected trouble. One of the nuns is an hermaphrodite (that, I only got info about it recently, couldn't know at the time). So the boys think : hey, sex is not quite what we thought it could be. And for the rest of their lives, they'll have to cope with it.
Replace sex with : politics, consumerism, spirituality, whatever you like. Nuns with doctors, nuclear scientists, sandwich-boy/girl people (this is Brit. Eng., ie. a male or female part-time employee in the advertising business). Change the lake for Saint Tropez, Sarajevo, Oradour-sur-Glane, Bobo-Dioulasso, Rostov na Donu. 

Ok, let's take it differently : you're in Summer camp, you think you are bright, daring, everything. You've got role models. You're going to bully someone. Something goes wrong. And you wonder whether you're so bright, daring, etc. And meet some kind of mirror. And don't recognize yourself... GL is about compromizing yourself with yourself... 
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Posted by Kevin on October 03, 2000:

I would like to know where I could find a critical analysis on GREASY LAKE. I would really appreciate your help. I am writing research.

Posted by sandye on October 03, 2000:

dear kevin,

have you made a visit to your library? you are not going to find what you are looking for online without digging. you may wish to consult the following reference books for literary criticism, "Studies in Short Fiction," "Short Story Criticism," and "Contemporary Literary Criticism."  these are a start. there is also a paper out there somewhere titled something like "Moral Relativism in Boyle's 'Greasy Lake'"--but i'm not sure that's the exact title and i can't remember the author. maybe you can find it in your research.

Posted by sandye on October 03, 2000:

the paper's title is "Boyle's 'Greasy Lake' and the Moral Failure of Postmodernism" by Michael Walker; Studies in Short Fiction 31, no.2 (1994 Spring): p.247-55.

Posted by sorehand on October 03, 2000:

Sandye's got the best lead right here. Michael Walker's essay is very good. And I'm not just saying that because I've met him. He's a S[anta] B[arbara] local and his essay will open Greasy Lake like a can of sardines. It's just what you're looking for.

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Posted by Kathy Fallon on November 10, 2000:

I'm currently working on an essay for English class regarding Greasy Lake. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. A few of my classmates felt that the attempted rape was just because the charcters were bad. I on the other felt it was the heat of the moment so to speak. I know that each person has their own ideas, however the main focus of my essay is on the chracteristics of the narrator and his two friends so I was wondering if I am on the right track?  Thanks for any input. 

Posted by sorehand on November 10, 2000:

You are definitely on the right track already! The characters are not as "bad" as they pretend to be. Boyle gives them an oppourtunity to rape(and purposely interrupts the scene), but they are interupted because they wouldn't have done it anyways. The story reveals something bigger than simply sarcasm and horror. Sarcasm and horror are the vehicles for our "nasty little epiphany" at Greasy Lake. In this epiphany, what is too be learned(hint-->your thesis!)?

This story is about the future commenting on a naive past. Most Boyle stories have this motif which I really enjoy. The elements of a good story are timeless, and Boyle's Greasy Lake is a way of communicating this perspective(the old narrator looking back, mockingly upon his youth). If you are looking for things indigenous to Boyle's "narration characteristics," then I hope that this has helped you get started.  Having said that, I have probably said enough. Write away and good luck to you.

And, I was just curious. What level English class are you in(grade, high school/college)? And, was this story assigned to read, or did you get the opportunity to CHOOSE Greasy Lake as an essay topic?


Posted by Kathy Fallon on November 13, 2000:

Thanks for the input. I appreciate your comments. I am currently taking English 1010 in college, basic English. Starting over, decided to go back to college. Anyway we were assigned this story for general reading and had the opportunity to choose a story for our essay. I chose Greasy Lake because I loved the story.   Your comments are great. They are going to help. I just hope I can pull it all together.  I'll let you know.  Kath 

Posted by sandye on November 10, 2000:

:dear Kathy,

you may wish to read the link below. it doesn't speak directly to your question, but does give TCB's more-or-less standard answer for questions about his stories.

you may also find it helpful to scan down the messageboard for previous questions and responses re: Greasy Lake.

      FAQ #24: Greasy Lake

Posted by TCB on November 11, 2000:

Dear Kathy Fallon: Yes, the messagistas have good advice. I do like your "heat of the moment" idea though. These are guys who like to think that they are bad. TCB. 
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Posted by Kate on November 14, 2000:

I'm writing a research/midterm for my college English class and I chose to do it on T.C. Boyle and Greasy Lake. The problem is that I'm not sure what theme/idea to write the paper on. I noticed your commentary and I was wondering if you could elaborate on the "nasty little epiphany" that you mentioned. Also, could you elaborate on something that you stated earlier, "This story is about the future commenting on a naive past"? This is the first Boyle story (but not the last) that I have read and I was really drawn into it. That's why I chose to write on it. Unfortunatly I have yet to grasp all of the symbolism and allusions that frequent readers of Boyle catch. So any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Kate

Posted by Kathy Fallon on November 14, 2000:

I too am doing an essay on Greasy Lake. I agree with the comments that have been going back and forth. I think it depends on a persons view on their uptake of the story. Most of the people in my class just felt the narrator and his buddies were a bunch of bad guys. I had a different take on the story. it is truly timeless, because people who grew up inthe 60's can relate, peole who were teenagers in the 70's (late 70's for myself) can also relate, as well as
the early 80's. 

Posted by Ruthie on November 14, 2000:

How much do you understand about plot structure?  "Greasy Lake" is an example of simple plot structure. Writers generally use this type of plot when the story does not have enough action to sustain a longer piece. It's a "slice of life" scenario, usually presented from the viewpoint of one character. In simple plot, the writer uses language to gradually increase dramatic tension in the piece until at the point of highest dramatic intensity, the character experiences an emotional relization. THIS IS YOUR EPIPHANY! The epiphany may be anything from the proverbial "flash of insight" to something a bit more subtle. Masters of this plot include: Joyce, Chekhov, Katherine Mansfield and Sherwood Anderson. (See Anderson's "I Want to Know Why" for a classic example.)

Since "The Skinny Guy" does not provide interpretations for his own works, YOU may draw any plausible conclusion about the piece without risking your g.p.a. However, your professor is less likely to conclude that you waited until the last minute and then got your info from some website, if you provide citations to previously published works that support your conclusions. And for pete's sake, run it through Spellcheck!

Posted by sorehand on November 14, 2000:

The interpretation of the theme of Greasy Lake will vary from reader to reader. Some readers not accustomed to Boyle's style will find it hard to find a theme at all. Does Greasy Lake have a theme? That question could be part of your thesis! If you want to discuss Boyle's trademark style, you will most certainly want to read a couple other short stories by him to contrast and compare(All Shook Up, Carnal Knowledge, Modern Love, A Bird in Hand).

Of course, there are many other articles out there(like the one by Michael Walker entitled: "Boyle's 'Greasy Lake' and the Moral Failure of Post-Modernism") that have been written about Greasy Lake. These are good examples of what the story means to different people. I'm not sure if Sandye has a link or if this article has been archived already. I haven't looked for it yet. If Sandye would be so kind as to link it for you, then you will be set.

I think we've given enough hints already. For me to elaborate anymore on what I have previously hinted at would go beyond the purpose of hinting. What do YOU feel about GREASY LAKE? I know you like the story, but do you have any problems with the specifics? As for the thesis, you must discover this YOURSELF. Be selfish and original. Do the research. Find your voice. What do you have to say?

"Art is long and time is fleeting..."


Posted by rgolomb on November 14, 2000:

Sandye's bibliography has no link to the article that Sorehand mentioned, but it has the following citation:  "Boyle's 'Greasy Lake' and the Moral Failure of Postmodernism. Michael Walker. Studies in Short Fiction v.31, no. 2. Spring 1994, pp. 247-55."

Be sure to look through Sandye's TCB resources site, which is linked in the Links item in the menu at the top of the Message Board. It's your gateway to just about everything else. Also be sure to look around this site (

>being new to Boyle's writing style I have yet to grasp all of the symbolism and allusions that frequent readers of Boyle catch.

The story is just as accessible to you, on your own, without any prior knowledge. It really speaks for itself. What do you think? Have fun rereading it and good luck. 

Posted by sandye on November 14, 2000:

this paper is readily available through a visit to your local library or possibly even through using your library's electronic resources database. ask your friendly local librarian for assistance. i was able to read and printout the whole paper from home doing just that, but i cannot post a link to it.

Posted by rgolomb on November 15, 2000:

Kate--You don't seem to be reading the replies that you've already gotten. Hope that you'll relax, reread the story, and draw some of your own conclusions. As I wrote earlier, the story speaks for itself, and it doesn't contain any symbolism or allusions that aren't just as accessible to you as they are to frequent readers of TCB. You can become a more frequent reader of TCB yourself if you'll just read a few other stories of his, and someone (Sorehand, I think) even suggested some for you to read. 
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Posted by Marcella Bello on December 04, 2000:

I am doing a English paper on you and on Greasy lakes .  I am taking Eng 102 and we have read some short stories. I decided to pick Greasy lake and yourself becaues out of all the short stories, your story happens to be the one that kept me interested and i could also relate a little to the characters. At first I thought you possible hung out a lake and smoked weed but I found out on your website that you took it part from Bruce Springstein's song and then where else you came up with the story from. You sound very interesting and I would love to chat with you one day if ever possible either online or even on the phone. My prof. saids the best source for my paper is obviously the source themself. I have to admit I did wait a long time to start this especiallysince my paper is due next week. I know I will be able to do this paper without speaking to you but to me this would be a very special occasion.I am a 21 year old female looking to possible get some intake from you or possible just find out some information that no story or interview can tell me. I also know that probley if I really would ever get in contact with you for my paper I would get a great achievment from my prof. I hope im not taking too much of your time with my letter to you. I hope to speak to you soon. I'm usually never online but i willc check my email everyday to see if I have a message from you. I'm going to be honest I will leave my cell phone number (pls dont think I'm crazy for dong so) but I mean I really am very interested about you and I hope that new writers who are choosing you to do their research paper you would only feel honored and ecxept it as a high compliment. cell number xxx-xxx-xxxx I also work for the xxxxx I have a 800 number at work in case you dont want to call long distance 800-xxx-xxxx. I'm in the ---- dept. also ome delivery only work 9-2 b/c of school. I hope this message reaches yo in good health. Than you so much for your time 

Posted by rgolomb on December 04, 2000:

Marcella--Please don't put so much personal information on the Internet (not only your cell phone number but your place of employment, your department there, your schedule, and your age). It frightens me; I think that it's dangerous and so, yes, a little bit crazy.

Either right away or as soon as you finish writing your paper, I hope that you'll post another message in which you give Milo, the webmaster for this site, permission to remove your first message from the board. I think that he might be willing to do so with your permission.

I was always taught that the best source of information on a story is the story itself, but in any case, I hope you'll take my advice about getting your message removed. Thanks!--Rita (rgolomb) 

Posted by TCB on December 05, 2000:

Dear Marcella: rgolomb has a good point. At any rate, let me say to you that I have indeed been to Greasy Lake on innumerable occasions, and that the stupidities engaged in by the characters in the story can't begin to match the stupidities that I perpetrated in real life. It's amazing to be alive! If you search this website, you'll find plenty of info. for your paper, but feel free to quote this too. TCB. 

Posted by sandye on December 04, 2000:

dear Marcella,

i suggest you read the messages in the link below regarding "Greasy Lake". this story is the subject of many a research paper and TCB's usual response is that he cannot interpret it for you. it sounds like you may have already read the FAQ for this site (there is a question about "Greasy Lake" there); you may also find a visit to my site about TCB's work to be helpful. it is the first one on the "Links" page at the top of the messageboard.

      Doing a Paper on "Greasy Lake"

Posted by Sean K on December 05, 2000:

Sandye, perhaps a section in your FAQ about doing papers on "Greasy Lake"? The question seems to come up at least once a month or so. 

Posted by sandye on December 05, 2000:

dear Sean,

i believe it will always be so. and what a great idea! i'd hoped originally that the FAQ section about "Greasy Lake" that's already there would help, but maybe when i upload my revamped site in a few weeks, i should just do a completely separate page instead of an addition to the FAQ:  Everything you ever wanted to know about writing your paper about "Greasy Lake"!
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Posted by Julie on January 23, 2001:

What are the references "That was nature" at the beginning and the end referring to? Thanks. 

Posted by TCB on January 25, 2001:

Dear Julie: It's not for me to say. But a close reading should reveal an answer. And, if the other messagistas are feeling merciful, they may chime in with their own theories to stimulate your thinking. TCB. 
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Posted by Julie on January 25, 2001:

Can you or anyone give me some input on the references to "nature" in Greasy Lake? Any other comments regarding are also appreciated!! 

Posted by John H. ( on January 25, 2001 at 21:17:23:

I wrote this for a English Comp II class. I thought you may like it. It is for your viewing, although I would not like to see it copied.

"Greasy Lake" is the story of a group of teenagers, pseudo tough-guys, searching for the one encounter that will establish their place in the world of hoodlums. As the story begins, the narrator gives the reader the impression that he feels he and the others should have taken notice of some obvious clues about themselves. These clues would have led them to the conclusion that they were far from the bad guys they wished to be. However, the young men ignore these signs and continue in search of their goal. 

In this story, the author uses many symbols to establish the theme. The individual vehicles are each symbols in the portion of the story that they appear. For example, early in the story, the narrator describes the car they drive to Greasy Lake as an old station wagon, obviously not the "ride" of a true tough-guy. When the boys arrive at Greasy Lake, a "chopper" is parked on the shore, and next to it is a 57 Chevy. Both are hotrods that imply a
"greaser" image. The Chevy owner is a tough "muscle-bound" character who "beats the tar" out of the narrator and his friends. The biker, whom they regard as a burnt-out main-liner, is dangerous by stereotype alone. Consequently, the vehicles are representative of the individuals who drove them. Another symbol of the danger the young men face is Greasy Lake itself. Dark, murky cold and disquieting, every aspect of it spells danger. Its glass-strewn shores and marshy shallows create a barrier only the reckless will traverse. It is a sign that nothing good lies within, as the narrator initially discovers when he seeks refuge in the water. 

The discovery of the biker's body is the turning point in not only the story, but also in the narrator's life. All in a short while, he has been beaten; he has hit someone in the head with a tire iron;  he nearly raped a young woman; he found a dead body and he watched his mother's Bel Air be destroyed, all in the name of excitement. While hiding in the water that was previously seen as a tarn of doom, with all the nights occurrences spinning in his head, he has an epiphany. Standing there he realizes what becomes of "tough-guys" and discovers that he has found his salvation within his true self. Accordingly, as the narrator emerges from Greasy Lake, he is a new person with a newly discovered perspective. As the sun is rising and the songs of birds replace the sounds of crickets, he leaves the pool of once dismal waters. This signals his rebirth and his baptism as a reformed adolescent.

The narrator tells the story of this incident from his youth in the words of an educated man. His actions as a teen are in stark contrast to his phraseology as an adult. Early in the story, he viewed "nature" as sex, drugs and rock and roll. However, as the story ends and the turmoil subsides, the narrator sees nature for the first time, through the eyes of a person matured by this traumatic experience. The "sun firing buds and opening blossoms" replaced the once revered pot smoke and beer. 

At the conclusion of this story, the girl from the Mustang comments to the narrator and his friends that they look like "some pretty bad characters." Upon hearing this statement they finally, as a group, realized that being a tough-guy requires much more than just looking like one. And that the fate of most tough-guys is similar to that of the floating biker. As if to confirm their transformation, the narrator and his friends, who earlier would have jumped at the opportunity, turn down the girls' offer of drugs and a good time. "Greasy Lake" is an excellent story that illustrates the great deal of truth in the old adage, "be careful of what you wish for, you just may get it."

I wrote to TCB about the biker but didn't get a response. I guess he did me a favor letting me  figure it out for myself.

John H. 

Posted by sandye on January 29, 2001:

dear John,

as you can probably imagine, "Greasy Lake" is TCB's most popular short story to be used as a term paper subject by students, so i'm not surprised that you didn't get a personal reply from him in writing. i know he'll appreciate the paper you've shared with us though and i plan to incorporate a link to it when i finally upload my newly revised TCB site soon, along with links to Sorehand's earlier "Greasy Lake" posts. i think they may serve as a valuable reference point for the many fans who are always looking for ways to interpret the story. 

Posted by TCB on January 30, 2001:

Dear Julie and John H.: I've read the story too. And John H., you've done a heroic job. Julie, as John H. says, you need to work this out on your own--all it takes is a little reading and thinking. And the great thing is, there are no wrong answers. Or hardly any. TCB. 
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Posted by MConsidine on January 25, 2001:

Mr. Boyle,
In your story 'Greasy Lake', I couldn't help noticing the numerous references to war in general and particularly Vietnam. Also, the loss of innocence of the ninteen year old caught my attention as being the average age of the grunts in Nam. Regulation pressure in the tires..., zombies, like war veterans..., sole survivor of an air blitz..., the air force had strafed it..., these are too numberous to be incidental. Would it be possible to comment without self-interpretation?
I enjoyed the story at the surface level and was wondering just how deep the story went? It keeps me thinking!! By the way, good to see a local make it big?
Hyde Park, NY 

Posted by TCB on January 30, 2001:

Dear MConsidine: Thanks for the praise. You Hyde Parkers weren't all that far from us Peekskillers (or Town-of-Cortlandters). You make a good case for the war metaphors, and others have developed papers around this thesis. TCB. 
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Posted by BArbara on February 09, 2001:

You often quote the lyrics from songs in your work, so I thought you might be able to answer the following:

I am somewhat familiar with the guidelines for fair use as set out in Section 107 of the Copyright Act. The sticking point is that there are few practical guidelines for interpreting Sect. 107(3) "The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole."  Generally, your likelihood of getting sued increases with the amt. you take from the copyrighted work. However a court can rule that quotation of a nominal amount of the copyrighted work is an unfair taking in cases where the words go to the very essence of the protected work, or if they are highly expressive and original--e.g. lyrics. 

I would like to use at most 4 lines of copyrighted lyrics in a piece I am working on. Unfortunately, the song has only 20 lines; and I'm sure that "his people" would find 20% "legally significant." Since it's all a matter of money in the end, somebody, somewhere must have designated either a number or a percentage that is the Maginot Line for Fair Use. Is there a commonly accepted standard?

The song is not listed with ASCAP/BMI or any of the online catalogues. The company listed as the original copyright holder has since been swallowed by a corporate mega-merger. Where can I find the mailing address for the present copyright holder? Any info would be appreciated.

Yes, I suppose I could find lyrics in the public domain that convey approximately the same sentiment. But those words are not followed by Chuck Leavell's signature attack on the piano keys--and it's that emotional intensity, the anger and the frustration of it--that I want. 

Posted by J. Mc. on February 10, 2001:

Authors often have to secure permission themselves for song lyrics used in their books. Alyce Miller wrote an article about this in an AWP Chronicle. Her publisher, Doubleday, had her take care of all permission requests for song lyrics in her book, and she had to pay for the permissions out of her advance. Unless you're a proven commodity in the publishing world, don't expect the publisher to do you any favors. 

Posted by TCB on February 11, 2001:

Dear BArbara: The messagistas are right on, as usual. You need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. Budding Prospects quoted a number of songs, and the copyright holders' prices ranged from Bruce Springsteen's gratis to Berry Gordy's $500 in the U.S. and another $500 overseas.  Also, of course, you might run into the problem of someone who will not grant rights at any cost. I tend to avoid song lyrics if I can. TCB. 
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Posted by Brandon Strohbehn on February 21, 2001:

I attend Mira Costa community college in Oceanside, Ca. I had a question. We are doing a presentaion on your short story Greasy Lake, and I was wondering. Is there a reason that the narrator does not have a name?? Does that mean something? Please e-mail me back A.S.A.P., presentaion on Friday! Thanx. 

Posted by TCB on February 21, 2001:

Dear Brandon: This problem was resolved by the filmmaker Damian Harris, whose short of "Greasy Lake" featured a narrator named T.C. and played by Eric Stoltz with a raspy voice-over. Does this give you a clue? Also, see the rest of the site and Message Board archives for tons of info. on "Greasy Lake." TCB. 
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Posted by news you can use on February 25, 2001:

The New Reviews "Greasy Lake"

from 'The Daily Register' (Shrewsbury NJ)

April 7, 1981 

(Freehold) -" Borough officials last night said they will attempt to subdue the "spirits in the night" at Lake Topanemus in response to several complaints registered by residents in the area.

Several residents of Pond Road and areas adjacent to the lake complained to the Borough Council last night of acts of vandalism, littering and blaring music at the lake from young people in the area."

TCB as a rule, declines to discuss the 'meanings' of his stories; this is particulary ironic in the case of Greasy Lake, as virtually everyone else seems eager to expound on it.

Greasy Lake is, by a wide margin, the Boyle work most likely to be chosen for various theses and term papers. Perhaps this is because the story is so rife with symbolism that it simply begs deeper analysis; or possibly, many readers find a special affinity with the subject matter contained therein.

In any case, there are nearly as many historical renditions of the story as literary ones.

TCB's narratve is based on the Bruce Springsteen song 'Spirits in the Night, an enigmatic tale in itself.

By most accounts, a place fitting the description of 'Greasy Lake' does exist. Lake Topanemous was a popular teen hangout in the l970's, and a place which Freehold-born Springsteen was familiar with. Others claim the 'real' Greasy Lake is Lake Shenandoah, located on Route 88, near the black community of Lakewood, NJ (hence the lyrics, "the dark side of route eighty-eight"). There are other feasible locations, and the possibility that the lake is simply an amalgamation of memories.

While TCB's characters are fictitious, Crazy Janey, Hazy Davy and others in the song are likely a combination of real and imagined personages.

Ironically, disturbances like the one described in 'The Daily Register' article occured after the song was released, a fiction-to-fact sort of oddity.

TCB loves to play fast and loose with history, and in Greasy Lake, he seizes on a topic already the subject of speculation, and crafts a masterful story from it.

While the facts surrounding the case of Greasy Lake are elusive, the 'true meaning' of the story is not. It can be found where it always has been, and always will be; in the minds of the individual readers. 

Posted by BArbara on February 26, 2001:

There's a "Greasy Lake" just about everywhere. The mountains of western PA are laced with numerous artificial lakes that are either remnants of flood-control projects dating back to the 30's or local reservoir reserves. And then, of course, there are the "coal holes." PA is rich in coal; and while the mines were not nearly as large as the infamous Kennecott Copper open pit mine, the coal companies still left behind sizable pits. These "coal holes" as we called them would fill with water over the years forming small hidden lakes back in the hills. Some were over 100 feet deep in places--and they literally were "greasy" from the oil that seeped from the coal seams. And once Bruce Springsteen's beloved Garden State adopted a "birth-to-death" accountability policy for certain classes of non-biodegradable or carcinogenic chemical compunds, "midnight haulers" would often dispose of them in the coal holes--which further enhanced this "greasy" characteristic. It was not uncommon for the water to appear international orange in color--there were that many chemicals in some of them. 

Some of my closest friends in high school were either closet alcoholics or weekend binge drinkers. They couldn't stand their parents, their lives--or in many cases, themselves. Weather permitting, they preferred to do their drinking up in the mountains, near the coal holes. And inevitably, someone would get the brilliant idea to go swimming, or dare someone to dive off a ledge. Beneath the placid surface there was a world of abandoned mining equipmment, junked cars and indiscriminate rubbish hauled by the "townies" who didn't want to pay dump fees. At least one or two kids died each year from this stupidity. 

But even more bought it on the drive down the mountain via old route 220. (They didn't call that one stretch "Dead Man's Curve" for nothing!) My dad occasionally drove a tractor trailer wrecker, when the state police needed someone to clear a local road in an emergency. About every other month he'd get a midnight call to help clear a wreck that was blocking the hwy.--which at that time was one lane in each direction. The worst one had to be a head-on collision between a big rig and a car full of teenagers. Both were totaled, and there was so much blood at the scene that dad "tossed his cookies" upon arrival. And this is a guy who worked in a slaughterhouse when he was a kid.

To me, the story is about our collective stupidity. If there's any "message" to be gleaned, it's probably something along the lines of "There but for the grace of God go I." 

Posted by Werner on February 26, 2001

Hmm, sounds more likely to be an entry for the "1001 Faces of Death, Vol. 5", eh?

And we thought *we* were daring, throwing rocks at passing trains...

old and whoolish

Posted by TCB on March 03, 2001:

Dear News, BArbara and Werner: Wonderful takes all. I especially like yours, BArbara. TCB. 
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Posted by Faith Collins on April 04, 2001:

I'm doing a paper on "Greasy Lake" and I need some help finding critical essays on this particular story. Is there anything on the web I may have overlooked? 

Posted by sandye ( on April 04, 2001 at 18:39:50:

dear Faith:

we feel your pain. really we do. we are also really bored with this question. understand, it's not you personally. it's just that this question seems to be asked at least once a week (and sometimes more). have you looked at any of the other messages on this board? i know it can seem overwhelming. but there are others who have tread this same territory before you. 

have you consulted the librarian of your local library's literature section for help? (believe me, they LOVE to be asked for help like this.) i can guarantee that if you ask the librarian for some help on how to use your library's database access, either in the library or through remote access at your home computer, that you will be able to find the only in-depth piece of critical literature on "Greasy Lake" that i know of today: Michael Walker's "Boyle's 'Greasy Lake' and the Moral Failure of Postmodernism." Studies in Short Fiction 31:2 (Spring 1994): 247-255. ISSN: 0039-3789. In English. i believe it can be found in its entirety in the MLA (Modern Language Association) database. 

for other info, including book reviews, on Greasy Lake, you might wish to check out the info on the links below.

      Sandye's TCB Resource Center--site search for "Greasy Lake" references

Posted by sandye on April 04, 2001:

it's everywhere! 

      "Greasy Lake" for criminal offenders

@ Copyright 2001 Sandye Utley, Cincinnati, Ohio

* * For non-commercial use only * *

Last Page Update: 8 April 2001