Drop City Paperback
by T. C Boyle
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.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 464 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publication Date: 01/03/2004
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780747568070
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by franhigg
This is an excellent novel which seems to me to have no weak points at all. The action is set in the late 1960s, and charts the fortunes of Drop City, a hippy commune in California that is forced by the opposition of the straight world to up sticks and transfer its operations to one of the remotest parts of Alaska, where its leader has inherited some property. The first half of the novel develops two parallel story lines, one following the declining fortunes of the commune, and the other setting the scene in and around the remote town of Boynton - the furthermost reach of mainland USA's road system - where the hippies will eventually arrive. The second half of the novel deals with what happens when they do, and although I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot too much to give anything away, it will not spoil your pleasure if I say that there is far more to this clash of cultures than a simplistic opposition of locals and interlopers.The author's style is punchy and direct, and so is ideally suited to the subject, with an omniscient narrator whose tone of exposition varies according to whichever character is prominent in the story. There is a lot of fun at the hippies' expense, but they are not caricatures, for some of them reveal unexpected strengths and talents: one of the pleasures of the book lies in the author's exploration of their multi-faceted personalities. Likewise, although the novel is no advertisement for the denizens, culture or climate of Alaska, we come to understand something of what impels people to live lives of almost unimaginable hardship in hand-built cabins with no services or communications, enjoying a diet of moose and bear and not much else, and where the night of winter is several months long and the temperature regularly falls to 40 below freezing. Having no experience whatsoever of all this, I am quite unable to say how authentic the author's narrative actually is, but I found it totally convincing - parts of it could almost be used as a survival manual!Although the topography and natural history of Alaska, not to mention its strangeness for most readers, almost require the author to indulge in passages of description, these are always subservient to the development of plot and character, and there are no wearisome purple patches. Indeed, the narration carries the reader along in fine style, the pages flash by, and in an almost unprecedented event I kept away from the internet for 48 hours, every spare moment being given over to finding out what happened next.Wholeheartedly recommended!
Review by sanddancer
The book begins in a commune in California in the late 1960s where a group of hippies of living out their ideals. But factions start to form in the commune and there is trouble with the authorities so they decide to move to Alaska where they hope they can be truly free. At the same time, a young woman moves to Alaska looking for a man to live with out in the wilds. The narrative changes perspective from the point of view of various characters over the its course. There is a sense of inevitability that things are going to go wrong with the communal living so it isn't the most original storyline, but the Alaska part adds an interesting dimension and you get a real sense of the hardships of these lifestyle choices.