T.C. Boyle

I first discovered the plays of Eugene O’Neill as a seventeen-year-old freshman whose experience of literature was limited, to say the least. I began with Emperor Jones and The Hairy Ape and worked my way through nearly all the other plays, from Desire Under the Elms to Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh and the crowning and devastating achievement of Long Day’s Journey into Night. I read them apart from classes, for the sweep and power and enjoyment of them. So taken was my young self by O’Neill, in fact, that I began to think of myself as a playwright—one of my first creative ventures was a one-act play. Alas, it was my last, and it was fiction that spoke to me, but I do believe that my dramatic foundation was laid by O’Neill, and I will forever be indebted to his influence, as so many of us are, whether we work as poets, novelists or dramatists.