, 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
"'Drop City' is a novel of sensations, particularly smeslls, both erotic ... and scatological." -- Word
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 weve had about the hippie eras slow fade to black -- The New York Times Book Review