T. C Boyle Drop City

ISBN 13: 9780747571568

Drop City

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9780747571568: Drop City
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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.

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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:

'Boyle's riveting new novel lays bare the raw reality behind the city-dweller's romantic dream of living at one with nature' The Times TC Boyle's doorstop of a book will have you rushing to bed early to find out what happens next ... a gripping book and a timely reminder of the sexism at the heart of the hippy movement' Good Housekeeping

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9780747560395: Drop City

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ISBN 10:  0747560390 ISBN 13:  9780747560395
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2003
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