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Drop City [Hardcover]

T. C Boyle
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Mar 2003
It is the seventies, at the height of flower power. Star has just joined Drop City, a hippie commune in sunny California living the simple, natural life. But underneath the drugs, music and transcendent bliss, she slowly discovers tensions and sexual rivalries that threaten to split the community apart. A world away in Boynton, a tiny town in the interior of Alaska, Sess Harder, a pioneer who actually does live off the land, hunting, trapping and fishing, yearns for someone to share the harsh winters with him. When the authorities threaten to close down Drop City, the hippies abandon camp and head up north to Alaska, the last frontier. But neither they nor the inhabitants of Boynton are completely prepared for each other - and as the two communities collide, unexpected friendships and dangerous enmities are born. Revealing human behaviour at its rawest, tenderest and most compelling, T.C. Boyle portrays the two communities in vivid detail, bringing them together in a dramatic conclusion. Epic and gripping, this is a magnificent novel from one of America's finest novelists.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (17 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747560390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747560395
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,191,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Drop City, TC Boyle's touching and comic ninth novel, finds him among those original anti-establishment rebels with a cause: the hippies. It takes him a step further back than the futuristic A Friend of the Earth (and yes, he did used to be known as T Coraghessan Boyle) in which he considered the politics of 80s and early 90s environmentalists.

Drop City is an early 70s Californian commune set up by acid-addled guru Norm. It's a place where "chicks" like Star, Merry, Lydia and Verbie, "cats" like Marco, Sky Dog and Pan/Ronnie (a man who appears to have taken the lyrics to Dave Crosby's "Triad" as a personal creed) and even "spades" like Lester and Franklin can "just ball and do dope all day long". "Everything is groovy" and they're all making "a new age, free and enlightened and without hang-ups, climb every mountain, milk every goat".

Well, that's the theory anyway; even the Garden of Eden had a serpent, after all, and poor sanitation, freeloaders, sexual abuse, petty rivalries and the unwelcome attentions of the authorities are giving Drop City a severe case of bad karma. With the bulldozers closing in, Norm decides that the only option is to up sticks and relocate to the frozen wastes of Boynton, Alaska--population 170. Drop City North is born.

While they don't exactly wears flowers in their hair, Boynton already has its fair share of "renegades, anarchists and wild hairs". And without making this sound like the "we're not so different, you and I" pronouncements of a cat-stroking Bond villain, when the two communities collide it's the unlikely similarities rather than the differences that Boyle, with his customary oddball humour, emphasises. Charming self-sufficiency nut Sess and his new wife Pamela are just as unwilling to yield to the "plastic society" as any of the by now crab-infested children of the revolution. And conversely, the essentially selfish Ronnie/Pan and Sky Dog find a kindred spirit in gun-toting Nam vet, Joe Bosky. Suffused throughout with an authentic whiff of Mary Jane, Boyle's novel is big and rangy in the classic transatlantic tradition, peopled (as so often in his wry fictions) by a gaggle of eccentrics faced with the bitter realities of their fundamentally American dreams. --Travis Elborough

Review

"'Drop City' is a novel of sensations, particularly smeslls, both erotic ... and scatological." -- Word

"most compelling. … Boyle's gripping tale refuses to judge either community." -- Belfast Telegraph, February 22nd 2003

'He is one of the finest American contemporary novelists,' -- The Sunday Tribune (Dublin)

'Here his vision is more compassionate, more hopeful than ever before. Full of pure invention. A glorious read.’ -- The Scotsman April 5th 2003

'a brilliant and epic exploration of flower-power idealism.' -- The Sainsbury's Magazine, April 2003

'a profoundly satisfying book.' -- Scotland on Sunday, 23rd March 2003

‘Boyle is a maverick talent … the reader finally emerges with despair and admiration for the human spirit. Highly recommended.’ -- Daily Mail 4th April 2003

‘One of the funniest, most subtle, novels we’ve had about the hippie era’s slow fade to black’ -- The New York Times Book Review

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What a disapointment 3 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Drop City has all the right ingredients. It is an interesting subject juxtaposing a hippie commune with the wilds of Alaska and the author has a fine pedigree. The Tortilla Curtain was one of the best novels of the 1990's. Drop City was a book I was really looking forward to reading. Unfortunately, I found it very disappointing. Unlike the Tortilla Curtain which at its heart compared the rich with the very poor of California in a compelling and socially relevant way the comparison between hippie ideals and those who really live off the land in Alaska is not made to work. The author's attempts to draw comparisons always seemed contrived, as is the story line, and were a long way from being insightful. Most significantly the characters in the book are never persuasive and invariably one-dimensional. A few days after completing the book I have trouble recalling any of them.
The idea behind the book is a terrific one but the execution and with it the reality is really unsatisfactory. The Tortilla Curtain is a vastly superior book.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near or Far the Past�s Truth Lacks Gloss 9 Nov 2002
By taking a rest HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
Prior to this novel my experience with T.C. Boyle has been limited to collections of his short stories. The author states that those of his readers who admired, "The Tortilla Curtain", or "A Friend Of The Earth", will find that, "Drop City", is the book they have been waiting for. The book begins in 1970 on a California commune, and were the book another attempt to romanticize and embellish the lifestyle documented in this book, I would likely have stalled after a handful of pages. There is no doubt the decade that ended with 1970 was a momentous one The United States and in many other nations, but the reasons that are worthy of note are often overlooked when glimpsed through the distorted view of Timothy Leary and the legions who attempted to expand their minds chemically, reject conventional society, while all the while leeching their existence from the local welfare office.
Boyle claims that, "we are in the dusk of human life on this planet", whether his tongue is firmly planted in his cheek I don't claim to know. What I can say is that he only states that thirty some years ago we "seemed" to be at the dawn of the same planet. Of course it appeared as dawn to some, and to many of the players in this book, for running away from anything you don't like, or in many cases, truth be told, fear, is a false dawn at best, and pure self delusion in truth. It is simply a fraud, and that is the life that Boyle brings to readers through this book. There is no nostalgia in this book, no, "hyperbole or high jinks common to novels of the sixties", to use the author's words. So, if your memory of the sixties is full of longing to return to them this book is not for you, don't touch it, it will scald your hands and your precious memories, as altered as they may have been when created and continue to be.
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