DROP CITY by Tom Coraghessan Boyle

DROP CITY by T C Boyle (hier online bestellen)

The story:
Flower power may be a thing of the past but the '60's counterculture dominates T.C. Boyle's latest novel. Drop City is the name of a commune in Sonoma, California. Set in 1970, the group consists of seventy or so hippies headed by 40-something 'Norm Sender' and his girl friend 'Premstar'.

One of the primary protagonists in Drop City is 'Star', a young girl from New York state who has driven all the way out to California with her high-school friend, 'Ronnie' -- who calls himself 'Pan'. Star gets increasingly disillusioned with Pan and latches on to the first somewhat sensible guy she meets - 'Marco'.

A few chapters later, the novel shifts focus to rural Boynton, Alaska, where a different kind of "living off the land" is in practice. Here, a little implausibly, Pamela is checking out a few bachelors because she has decided to go back to the land; "she was going to live in the bush, and she was going to be one hundred percent self-sufficient." She is willing to put herself in "the hands of some grizzled, twisted, sex-starved fur trapper with suet-clogged arteries and guns decorating his walls." After a brief romance, she hooks up with Sess Harder, a self-made man who seems to be just Pamela's type.

Back at Drop City, the paradise where there were "big pots full of mush, women with their tits hanging, health and simplicity and the good rural life," might seem glamorous, but reality is a lot harsher. Norm runs Drop City according to the principle LATWIDNO, i.e. Land Access to Which is Denied Nobody. This principle predictably invites many freeloaders and troublemakers. What's worse, the California government officials want to close the commune down due to health hazards: "nobody wanted a free-form community in their midst, because free-form meant anarchy, it meant heaps of trash a mile high and human shit in the woods."

At such time, Norm Sender decides to move his commune to yes, Boynton, Alaska. His uncle, Roy Sender, has left him a cabin up there and the rest, they can build, right? "We're going to take down some trees, because that's the way you do it," Norm explains to Drop City residents, "lumber is free up there, can you dig that, free -- and we're going to build four more cabins and a meeting house and we're going to build right on down to the river because the salmon are running up that river even as we speak and they're running in the millions…We're going to eat the land because it's one big smorgasbord."

Inevitably, as Drop City settles into Alaska, we get to watch the incredulous natives shift around and try to absorb them. "The world was changing," Sess Harder admits to himself, "men had hair like women, women wore pants like men and let their tits hang loose, and who was going to argue with that?"

Boyle's narrative paints the hippie culture and native Alaskan life in vivid detail. At times though, the story does tend to drag and wander around in a haze. The contrasts between the denizens of Drop City and Boynton may be glaringly evident at first (Star has a tough time explaining what bell bottoms and LSD has with getting back to nature) but as the citizens gradually find their place, the distinction becomes more of a blur. Boyle treats these subtle character shifts very well.

About the author:
Tom Coraghessan Boyle was born in the suburbs of Manhattan in 1948. He has written five previuous novels: Water Music, Budding Prospects, East is East, World's End and The Road to Wellville. He is also the author of four collections of short stories, the latest of which is called Without a Hero. He now lives near Santa Barbara in California.
Lakeland High School, Shrub Oak, NY, 1964; State University of New York at Potsdam, B.A. in English and History, 1968; University of Iowa, Iowa City, M.F.A. in Fiction 1974; Ph.D. in British Literature, 1977.

Extract from book:
'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 afloat in goat's milk and drifted through the door and out into the yard to perch on a stump and feel the hot dust invade the spaces between her toes. Eating wasn't a private act--nothing was private at Drop City--but there were no dorm mothers here, no social directors or parents or bosses, and for once she felt like doing her own thing. Grooving, right? Wasn't that what this was all about? The California sun on your face, no games, no plastic society--just freedom and like minds, brothers and sisters all?'

Taschenbuch: 464 Seiten
Verlag: Bloomsbury Publishing; Auflage: New edition (1. März 2004)
Sprache: Englisch
ISBN: 0747568073
Preis: € 6,60

More works from the same author:

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After the Plague
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A Friend of the Earth
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East is East
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World's End

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