Summary and book reviews of Drop City by T.C. Boyle

Drop City

by T.C. Boyle

Drop City
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2003, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2004, 512 pages

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Book Summary

Infused with the lyricism and take-no-prisoners storytelling for which T.C. Boyle is justly famous, this is a surprisingly rich, allusive, and non-sentimental look at the ideals of the 60's generation and their impact on today's radically transformed world.

A brilliant and vividly rendered tale of ordinary people in the throes of idealism, passion, and sub-Arctic temperatures at a moment when our world changed forever.

T.C. Boyle has proven himself to be a master storyteller who can do just about anything. But even his most ardent admirers may be caught off guard by his ninth novel, for Boyle has delivered something completely unexpected: a serious and richly rewarding character study that is his most accomplished and deeply satisfying work to date.

It is 1970, and a down-at-the-heels California commune has decided to relocate to the last frontier—the unforgiving landscape of interior Alaska—in the ultimate expression of going back to the land. The novel opposes two groups of characters: Sess Harder, his wife Pamela, and other young Alaskans who are already homesteading in the wilderness and the brothers and sisters of Drop City, who, despite their devotion to peace, free love, and the simple life, find their commune riven by tensions. As these two communities collide, their alliances shift and 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.

Drop City is not a satire or a nostalgic look at the sixties, though its evocation of the period is presented with a truth and clarity that no book on that era has achieved. This is a surprising book, a rich, allusive, and nonsentimental look at the ideals of a generation and their impact on today's radically transformed world. Above all, it is a novel infused with the lyricism and take-no-prisoners storytelling for which T.C. Boyle is justly famous.

Chapter 1

The morning was a fish in a net, glistening and wriggling at the dead black border of her consciousness, but she'd never caught a fish in a net or on a hook either, so she couldn't really say if or how or why. The morning was a fish in a net. That was what she told herself over and over, making a little chant of it-a mantra-as she decapitated weeds with the guillotine of her hoe, milked the slit-eyed goats and sat down to somebody's idea of porridge in the big drafty meeting room, where sixty shimmering communicants sucked at spoons and worked their jaws.

Outside was the California sun, making a statement in the dust and saying something like ten o'clock or ten-thirty to the outbuildings and the trees. There were voices all around her, laughter, morning pleasantries and animadversions, but she was floating sail and just opened up a million-kilowatt smile and took her ceramic bowl with the nuts and seeds and raisins and the dollop of pasty oatmeal ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Book Magazine - James Schiff

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.

Boston Globe

Boyle may be the most entertaining writer in America.

The New York Times

On of the most inventive and verbally exuberant writers of his generation.

Newsweek

America's most imaginative contemporary novelist.

Publishers Weekly

Even readers who were alienated by the didactic streak of novels like A Friend of the Earth will be won over by Boyle's latest, arguably his best since East Is East.

Booklist - Donna Seaman

An accomplished, versatile storyteller and discerning social observer, Boyle writes with enthralling momentum and seductive detail, avidly describing everything from California sunshine to the northern lights, psychedelicly altered states to the cramped interior of an Alaskan cabin. But for all its glorious physicality and riveting action, this is a frank and penetrating critique of a naive but courageous time, a stinging indictment of machismo and a paean to womanhood, and an unabashed celebration of true love and liberty.

Library Journal

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.

Kirkus Reviews

Probably the fullest picture of the hippie culture of the late '60s since Marge Piercy's early fiction, and one of Boyle's best.

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