Image: SkyNews

“Chicxulub” by T. Coraghessan Boyle

I had no idea what “Chicxulub” referred to before reading this short story. As I learned, a six-mile-wide asteroid or comet slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, contributing to the dinosaurs’ extinction and forming what is now known as the Chicxulub crater. In this amazing story, Boyle’s narrator alternated between musing about meteors and describing a disaster that is occurring in the life of his family. This structure is really what made the story stand out for me.

The thing that disturbs me about Chicxulub, aside from the fact that it erased the dinosaurs and wrought catastrophic and irreversible change, is the deeper implication that we, and all our works and worries and attachments, are so utterly inconsequential.

The story begins with the narrator’s daughter walking down a highway alone at night in the rain. Between the situation and the father’s digressions on life-ending meteor impacts, the reader expects the worst. But Boyle made me feel the panic, the devastation, the helplessness, the frustration of the narrator and his wife.

The ending is a surprise, though. If you want to read the story, and I definitely think you should, it was published in The New Yorker on March 1, 2004 and can be found on the website, here. Thanks, Teddy Rose, for recommending this one.

John hosts Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set. Head over there to see what he and others have been reading.


  • I LOVE TC Boyle. I even tried to go study with him, but at the time, he was only working with undergrads and I was ready for graduate work.

    Biggest bummer of my life. I had an undergrad prof who thought we’d be wicked fun together (me and Boyle, not me and the prof).

  • Carol, I’m so glad you decided to join our little Boyle club. As you know, I LOVED this story. I have been enjoying some of his other stories as well. The New Yorker has other short stories by him as well.

    Susan, too bad you didn’t get to work with Boyle. I think that would have been a blast!

    Morgot, read it! This is Teddy twisting your arm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.