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Drop Cityby T. C. Boyle
Finalist for the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction
In Drop City, Boyle gives us an insider's view of two very different, self-constructed realities, each with their own set of mores. From the rugged individuals eking out a living in wild Alaska to the communal hippies struggling to be "one," Boyle lays it all out, the gritty and the sweet. This is my favorite book by an author I recommend all the time for his great characters and kick-ass storytelling.
"Boyle has long produced political novels that make you hanker for a good book club. In Drop City, which portrays a raucous West Coast commune in the 1960s, he shows the same elaborate command of historical detail and social milieu that he demonstrated so effectively in Tortilla Curtain, which dealt with Mexican immigration into California in the 1980s, and Friend of the Earth, which parodied radical environmentalists. But Drop City may be his most sophisticated work to date because here he seems more willing than ever to let the colorful characters he creates follow their own paths. The social studies final exam questions that risked taking over his previous novels — à la Sinclair Lewis — here recede into subtler and more unresolvable themes." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)
Synopses & Reviews
It is 1970, and a down-at-the-heels California commune devoted to peace, free love, and the simple life has decided to relocate to the last frontier—the unforgiving landscape of interior Alaska—in the ultimate expression of going back to the land. Armed with the spirit of adventure and naïve optimism, the inhabitants of “Drop City” arrive in the wilderness of Alaska only to find their utopia already populated by other young homesteaders. When the two communities collide, unexpected friendships and dangerous enmities are born as everyone struggles with the bare essentials of life: love, nourishment, and a roof over one’s head. Rich, allusive, and unsentimental, T.C. Boyle’s ninth novel is a tour de force infused with the lyricism and take-no-prisoners storytelling for which he is justly famous.
"Boyle has worked this territory before in several sensationally effective stories, but never with such telling detail and devastating characterizations....Probably the fullest picture of the hippie culture of the late '60s since Marge Piercy's early fiction, and one of Boyle's best." Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. Boyle's sheer brio as a storyteller and his delight in recounting his characters' adventures quickly win the reader over....
"Boyle has a wonderful eye for the comedy of imposture....While the Day-Glo of the hippie era has long since faded, this novel brings it all back home — and helps us see how much in the American grain it all really was." Publishers Weekly
"What is surprising is how soulful Drop City frequently is, and how much human complexity Boyle manages to smuggle in....Boyle [provides] one of the funniest, and at the same time most subtle, novels we've had about the hippie era's slow fade to black." Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review
"Though some may find the blend of realism and naturalism too conventional for a novel about free love and communes, Boyle, always a skilled and generous storyteller, offers a stream of adventures, surprises and rewards." James Schiff, Book Magazine
"Drop City resonates with a stately and humble authority and just may be Boyle's finest work to date....
"Boyle is a funny writer, a deft handler of the complexities of this ensemble piece — the dozen or so commune members are remarkably distinct — and most gratifying of all, an expert storyteller. He's also got enough of a tough, acerbic edge to steer him clear of the tedious buffoonery that the scribes of flackdom inevitably call 'rollicking.' Drop City is partly a satire of '60s-era communitarian dreams, but it doesn't let contemporary readers off quite so easily, either." Laura Miller, Salon.com
"Boyle's prose lights up every page....
"There are a million stories in Drop City, and the way T.C. Boyle tells them, my response is somewhere between 'Wow, man' and 'Amen.' (Grade: A-)" Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"[F]illing but vaguely unsatisfying....Boyle employs every cliché he can muster. The language is forced." Jane Hoback, Rocky Mountain News
"Drop City has all the predigested passion of a 1970s ABC 'Tuesday Night Movie of the Week'....For all its vérité and occasional turn of phrase, Drop City engenders few feelings at all, and that includes sympathy or laughter." Michael Anft, The Washington Post
"Boyle captures the drop-out-and-get-back-to-the-land spirit of the era, as well as the chill and isolation of the Alaska winter, with a clarity that has earned him a reputation as one of our best writers. Highly recommended." Library Journal
About the Author
T.C. Boyle is the bestselling author of After the Plague, T.C. Boyle Stories, Riven Rock, The Tortilla Curtain, Without a Hero, The Road to Wellville, East Is East, If the River Was Whiskey, World's End (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award), Greasy Lake, Budding Prospects, Water Music, and Descent of Man (all available from Penguin). His fiction regularly appears in major American magazines, including The New Yorker, GQ, The Paris Review, Playboy, and Esquire.
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