A critic recently said of T. Coraghessan Boyle, More happens in one of Boyle's stories than in most post-Victorian novels. This is precisely the case in Without a Hero, fifteen stunning stories that each, in its own way, displays a virtuosity and versatility rare in literary America. In this, his fourth story collection, Boyle takes chance after chance, even to the point of reexamining the ethos of Ernest Hemingway, one of the masters of the form. In Big Game, the wild animal safari takes place not in Africa but on a pay-per-shoot ranch in Southern California and includes an elephant hunt and its vivid consequences. There are echoes here of Hemingway's classic The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and Green Hills of Africa, but Boyle's hunting story is drawn for the age of ecology rather than an age without limits. Throughout, Boyle displays an astonishing range as he zooms in on such American specimens as the college football player who knows only defeat; the entrepreneur who creates a center for acquisitive disorders; the couple in search of the last toads on earth; and the boy caught between the ingenuousness of childhood and the cynicism of adulthood in The Fog Man. In some of these stories, Boyle makes you laugh out loud; in others you come closer to understanding the human condition because of the way he cuts to the secret places in his people's hearts. Here is the author of the highly praised 1993 novel, The Road to Wellville, entering a richer and deeper phase in his writing life, his stories bursting with what the Los Angeles Times has called his ferocious, delicious imagination, often darkly satirical and always infatuated with language.