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 ...
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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I was born too late to be a real hippie. Too late for free love. Too late for all-day drug binges. Too late for all those bell?bottomed jeans. That?s just as well, because Drop City transported me?without the risk of overdose or social disease?to a Northern California hippie commune just after the Summer of Love. A finalist for the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction for this novel, author T.C. Boyle expertly captures the highs and the lows of that era, painting the hedonism not as heroism but a lifestyle fraught with both intense pleasure and pain.
Boyle?s fictional commune, the titular Drop City, is populated by a psychedelic cast of characters?most of whom have renounced family, work, and traditional responsibilities for the laid-back, freewheeling, chemically enhanced life. But all is not golden at Drop City. The hair is long (and greasy). The relationships are open (to jealousy and V.D.). The minds are blown (and dulled). Indeed, the psychedelia is mellowed by a lot of gray, which is where Boyle?s immense skills and imagination as a storyteller really shine.
When the marijuana ethic overshadows the work ethic, Solano county seizes the commune land for unpaid back taxes, and the hippie family decides to convoy to a new dream: establishing Drop City North in the wilds outside Fairbanks, Alaska. The Land of the Midnight Sun shines brightly for our comrades, promising them abundant natural resources and unrestricted freedom to live the wild life.
In the end, Boyle makes you glad you were along for the trips, whether via bong or bus. His characters are sympathetic and human, both the California hippies and the Alaskans they befriend. His writing is unrestrained and utterly free of self-consciousness; it?s also downright beautiful at times. The story he tells is involving until the last page, giving you a chance to vicariously live a life as big and bold as that far-northern state.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-01-06 Boyle has a wonderful eye for the comedy of imposture when the self-deceived themselves practice deception. His ninth novel, which centers on the travails of a hippie commune, Drop City, in the early '70s, gives him plenty of poseurs to work with. Drop City, in Sonoma County, Calif., is run, in a manner of speaking, by a gold-toothed purveyor of Aquarian notions, Norm Sender. The Drop City family includes Pan (aka Ronnie) and his high school pal Star (aka Paulette Regina Starr), who have fled from the East Coast together; two rather predatory black dudes; and a variegated crew of longhaired "cats" and flower-child "chicks." Star, sweet but often naive, is the opposite of Pan, beneath whose free love patter lurks an unnerving rapacity. Star soon hooks up with Marco, whose solid virtues are concealed beneath his veil of hair. When "The Man," in the person of the Sonoma County sheriff's department, condemns the property, Norm, who has inherited other property far away in Boynton, Alaska, proposes a tribal migration north. Meanwhile, the news in Boynton is that local trapper Cecil "Sess" Harder is marrying Pamela McCoon, after an eccentric courtship ritual. Sess's major problem lately has been a violent feud with Joe Bosky, the local bush pilot. When the Drop City hippie bus rolls into Boynton, a comic clash of civilizations ensues. Building utopia upriver from the Harders, Drop City's denizens discover that polar climes demand rather drastic behavioral adaptations. Boyle understands the multitudinous, sneaky ways innocence insulates itself from ambiguity-but in this novel he leavens that cynical insight with genuine sweetness. While the Day-Glo of the hippie era has long since faded, this novel brings it all back home-and helps us see how much in the American grain it all really was. (Mar.) Forecast: 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. Boyle will embark on a 12-city author tour, and publication of the book may stir up off-the-book-page discussion of the legacy of the counterculture. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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