Posted in Short Stories

T. C. Boyle: The Devil and Irv Cherniske (Deal Me In 2016 – Week 34)

J♣ J♣ J♣ J♣ J♣ J♣ J♣ J♣

I enjoy stories where characters make a deal with the devil – like Robert Johnson going down to the crossroads or a Georgia boy entering a fiddle playing contest. Both of those have a musical theme, too. Of course, that might be an additional reason why I like those two stories.

The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection

When I included T. C. Boyle’s short story “The Devil and Irv Cherniske” on my Deal Me In 2016 list, I was looking forward to reading another version. I also happen to enjoy an author who can take a tried and true formula and make it their own. And Boyle pretty much does that with this story.

I’m probably stereotyping a little bit, but the name Irv Cherniske brought up images of someone rather quirky and given what little I knew about Boyle’s writing, I figured “quirky” would be right up his alley. However, the character of Irv in the story isn’t quite what I imagined. Irv actually already has a lot of the devil in him prior to his negotiations with the Evil One.

One of the little twists Boyle adds to his story involves a side deal with Irv’s wife. You’ll have to read the story to determine for whom or whether this side deal ends well.  Another twist has Irv, in his later years, rethinking this bargain. So he ends up seeing Reverend Jimmy, who, being from “Staten Island [still] spoke in the Alabama hog farmer’s dialect peculiar to his tribe.”

So ulitmately, Irv sells his soul for money and then uses his money to try to buy it back.

Again, read the story to find out which side finally gets Irv.

This story is included in my copy of The Best American Catholic Short Stories edited by Daniel McVeigh and Patricia Schnapp.  I read it when I selected the Jack of Clubs for Week 34 of my Deal Me In 2016 short story project. My Deal Me In 2016 list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.



5 thoughts on “T. C. Boyle: The Devil and Irv Cherniske (Deal Me In 2016 – Week 34)

  1. I think “Devil stories” would make a good Top Ten Tuesday theme some day. I’ve read a few myself. Seems authors and readers will never tire of that Man & the Devil story.

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