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Book Review of Drop City

Drop City
Drop City
Author: T. Coraghessan Boyle
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
perryfran avatar reviewed on + 909 more book reviews


I graduated from high school in 1968, the height of the free-love/summer-of-love/hippie movement. And living and growing up in Utah, I always thought that I had missed out on this. I didn't go to San Francisco and live the life-style in Haight Ashbury and Berkeley and no, I didn't make it to Woodstock. But after reading Boyle's superb novel, Drop City, I'm actually glad that I missed out on this misguided movement.

The novel takes place in 1970 and alternates between the tale of a California commune near the Russian River and a group of trappers and bushmen living and surviving at the farthest outreaches of Alaska. The group in California is living the life most of them always wanted, dropped out from society with no laws or rules, smoking pot and using LSD, and sleeping with most anyone willing. But then the leader of the group, Norm, who owns the ranch they are living on, runs into trouble with the local community when he is unable to pay his taxes. As a result, he comes up with a plan to move the entire group to Alaska where his uncle had a cabin used as a base for his trapping operation. Well, they make it to Alaska using an old school bus but do they have the stuff to survive? The group is mostly naive about the hardships there especially when it gets to 40 below zero in the winter.

The book is full of memorable characters including Sess Harder and his wife Pamela who have dropped out of society in Alaska but can achieve their existence through hard work. Sess and Pamela do make friends with some of the hippie group but conflicts with others still exist. The conditions of the commune in California and later in Alaska were pretty deplorable as described by Boyle. This included a lack of sewer facilities, meager food and subsistence, a lack of bathing by the group, and the inevitable conflicts that come up. As I said earlier, I'm glad I missed out on this experience! Overall though, this was an excellent novel full of emotions from humor to grief. High recommendation.


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