Course Hero Logo

Greasy Lake | Study Guide

T.C. Boyle

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Greasy Lake Study Guide." Course Hero. 4 Oct. 2019. Web. 9 Dec. 2022. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, October 4). Greasy Lake Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "Greasy Lake Study Guide." October 4, 2019. Accessed December 9, 2022.


Course Hero, "Greasy Lake Study Guide," October 4, 2019, accessed December 9, 2022,



T.C. Boyle

Year Published



Short Story



Perspective and Narrator

"Greasy Lake" is told in the first person by an unnamed narrator who is remembering events that happened when he was 19 years old.


The story "Greasy Lake" is told in the past tense.

About the Title

The story "Greasy Lake" is set in and around a polluted lake, which local youths use as a hangout and make-out spot. The name of the lake is taken from "Spirit in the Night," a song released by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen (b. 1949) in 1973. In the song a group of young men and a woman named Crazy Janey go to Greasy Lake, which is the nickname for a body of water "on the dark side of Route 88." Greasy Lake and Route 88 in the song are both real places located in New Jersey. The story begins with an epigraph that references Route 88 as mentioned in the song lyric. However, in a 2000 letter to the New York Times, Boyle explains that the story is not based on the characters in Springsteen's song, though the song similarly includes teens drinking, fighting, and getting "hurt" (intoxicated or high). Boyle says his story is inspired by the song, "a free take on its glorious spirit." In truth, while the Springsteen song is about teens having a good time by the lake, Boyle's story is far darker, employing a dead body, an attempted murder, an attempted rape, and a smashed-up car.


This study guide for T.C. Boyle's Greasy Lake offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Greasy Lake? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!