Saturday, March 03, 2007
I just finished reading Drop City, the 2003 novel by T.C. Boyle. It takes place in 1970 and deals, sympathetically but not uncritically, with hippies in a commune. I liked this book a lot. Wonderful characters and great descriptions of two settings, California and the bush of Alaska. It's been fashionable recently to think the novel or fiction in general irrelevant, to consider true stories the only worthy ones. Drop City shows that the novel is alive and kicking. The novel was king because we believed it could illuminate truth, could show us life as it was really lived. Boyle in Drop City accepts that challenge and succeeds brilliantly, as does Tom Wolfe in his unfashionable novels. A novel can succeed where rafts of sociological studies fail; a point slyly emphasized in Drop City when a sociologist character's tape recorder is thrown into the fire in mid-interview.