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Hunts in Dreams Paperback – July 5, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (July 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618127402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618127405
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,001,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Somewhere in the Midwest, the Darling family is in for an intricate and difficult transformation one October weekend, in Drury's lyrically bleak but oddly hopeful third novel, which follows several of the characters of his praised The End of Vandalism. Charles (aka "Tiny"), a plumber who "would fix something in such a way that it would need fixing again soon," yearns to possess a vintage double-barreled shotgun once owned by his family and currently in the possession of a minister's widow. Charles's wife, Joan, is headed to Stone City for the weekend, to attend the animal shelter convention, but winds up having an affair with her egotistical doctor. This leaves Charles stuck with the kids, an overly imaginative seven-year-old son named Micah who thinks he can see ghosts, and Lyris, 16, the daughter Joan gave up for adoption at birth and who, after a succession of foster parents, now lives with the Darlings. Meanwhile, Charles's middle-aged brother, Jerry, has taken up with Lyris's teenage friend, and Lyris herself gets involved with a local miscreant and budding arsonist. Stark in its depiction of family life going nowhere, the novel (with its title inspired by Tennyson and its domestic drama reminiscent of Rick Moody's The Ice Storm) describes smalltowners who must compromise their unruly desires, and confront their failures and weaknesses. Charles, trapped in his well-meaning but blundering ways, may be able to defend Lyris's honor, but he cannot hold his family together. The children likewise do their best: Lyris is a scarred survivor who trusts no one, and young Micah invents playmates in a town devoid of excitement. Those who do manage to break out of their daily existence, like Joan, face the horrifying prospect of a life beyond the accepted pattern, where one finds not freedom but an abyss of confusion. Drury portrays this potential unmooring with persuasive clarity. His gift for dead-on realism and unfussy dialogue reveals the humorous, edgy pathos of his characters and invests his story with the ambiguity of real life and the poignancy of unrealized dreams. Author tour. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

You could call this novel warm and funny and you wouldn't be wrong, although wry and weirdly edgy is probably closer to the mark. Here, Drury returns to small-town life, a setting similar to that of his first novel, the well-received The End of Vandalism (LJ 1/94). He focuses on one family, each member of which is in perpetual motion and filled with yearning. Charles, the father, longs for an heirloom gun that sits above the fireplace of a minister's widow--a longing so great he is willing to risk arrest. Joan, his wife, would seem to want out of her marriage, although her thoughts don't necessarily line up so clearly. Nevertheless, she ends up in a hotel room with the local doctor, certainly a good start. Their young son, Micah, wants to push beyond the boundaries of his world and spends his nights roaming through town. And as for Lyris, a teenager who has only recently been reunited with birthmother Joan through the efforts of the radical group Home Bringers, all she wants is a family. Certainly things fall apart, but at the same time and in a nearly magical way, they begin to come together. Drury is an absolutely delightful writer who has carved out a world of his own in American fiction, one that is odd, revealing, and yet filled with love.
-Brian Kenney, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Weird in a hilarious way.
Elizabeth Hendry
His style in this book is deceptively simple, often masking layers of symbolism.
Ben Welch
The choices his characters make feel logical in their own thwarted ways.
Grady Harp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ben Welch on May 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Tom Drury is one of those gifted writers who deserves wider attention than he has. After the publication of his first novel, The End of Vandalism, Granta chose Drury as one of America's best young novelists. With Hunts in Dreams, he makes good on that promise. Drury is a master of dialogue who can show the emotional distance between husband and wife in just one exchange. His style in this book is deceptively simple, often masking layers of symbolism. His characters are quirky midwesterners who spend a weekend searching for meaning in a largely indifferent universe. One of them stops at nothing to retrieve an antique gun once owned by his stepfather. A seven-year-old boy wanders the town at night surprising himself with his adult thoughts while wielding his secret six-shooter pistol. These characters often try to root themselves in the present by identifying with their pasts -- and they don't always succeed.
Drury is at his best -- and funniest -- in the details. Drury names a bomb lover's dog after an explosive chemical. " 'Here, Cordite,' " he would call, with darkness settling over the suburb where they lived. 'Come home, Cordite.' "
For any readers who love true fiction, this is the book for you. Drury uses his imagination, and he has an uncommon ability to see meaningful, interesting details in that imagined world. Such details make Hunts in Dreams memorable even after you close the covers and place the book on the shelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lee Rusch on April 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This small, but dense book delivers more of what I enjoy about Mr. Drury's writing: Smart, precise, but easy sentences; dead-on dialogue filled respectfully with the incidental, accidental humor of people trying to get it right; a narrative style that seldom lingers or overexplains; and a gift for expressing the fragililty of our connections to ourselves and others. A brave and honest outing for a this gifted artist.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on June 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I should not have read this book without having read the predecessor, or should I? The jacket says this novel is set in The American Midwest as his previous novel was. That comment alone in no manner suggests to me this is a sequel. I tried to divine whether it was by checking on, "The End Of Vandalism", and it's still not clear. My comments are based on this work as a stand-alone story.
Mr. Drury writes very sharp, and at times very clever prose. Some of the dialogue is as witty as you will come across. He also provides enough characters for a 500 page novel much less the 200 pages we are offered here. If this were indeed an installment in a series I would have thought more highly of it, and enjoyed it more. He creates a dysfunctional setting full of dysfunctional characters of varying degree and it makes for a good read. And that is where it ends.
Unless of course this is a series and the stories of his characters are going to continue. For this is one of those books that do not culminate in any form of resolution, rather it feels as though someone tore out the last several chapters of the book.
I like finding new Authors and enjoying their work. I have a real problem with expensive short books that are closer to a large fragment than a book, and may or may not be part of a greater whole because the jacket and the interpretation of it by others is at best vague, at worst wrong.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Julie Lahr on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Really, an excellent example of why books will not die. This book has it all -- the kind of book that becomes part of your life -- you keep thinking about the characters after you've read it, to the point you're wondering about your sanity, what with having to remind yourself you don't really know these people, since they are, ahem, actually fictional.
Read this one and I will also pass on to you a word about another slim and eminently readable novel about contemporary America: "Love Songs of the Tone-Deaf" by Asher Brauner. A wonderful slice of American life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on August 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Searching for stability and an overall sense of purpose in life is the underlying theme to Tom Drury's latest novel. Set in a mundane, midwestern town over the course of an October weekend, the characters seek out personal comfort in their dreary lives.
In an attempt to connect back with his long-lost childhood and stepfather, Charles Darling goes to any length to retrieve a sentimental shotgun. His wife Joan retreats to a weekend, animal-shelter seminar while trying to find happiness in her otherwise lack-luster marriage. Her orphaned daughter returns home trying to gain a solid stepping stone into adulthood. And their young son Micah inquizzitively explores what reality his little world holds.
Although wonderfully written, I didn't really connect to the characters or much care about their plight. It just seemed like, young or old, everyone hit a mid-life crisis at the same time. There are no great issues tackled here, just the overall blandness that life con sometimes produce and how one family dealt with it.
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