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Pacific Hardcover – May 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119995
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In his acclaimed debut, The End of Vandalism (1994), Drury introduced readers to an offbeat cast of lovers, cheaters, and criminals from Grouse County, Iowa. Set partly in the same town, his fifth and latest book reinstates some of his inaugural characters, including former sheriff Dan Norman, now an undercover detective investigating an ex-con’s scam selling forged Celtic relics; Tiny Darling, a small-time crook and unsuccessful plumber; Tiny’s ex-wife, Joan, who lives in L.A. and stars in a forensic TV show; and her stepdaughter, Lyris, a former foster child, who has recently moved to town. The fragmented, multiperspective story line begins when Joan returns to Grouse County to reclaim her 14-year-old son, Micah, whose new West Coast lifestyle finds him dabbling in drugs and sex. All the jumping around and the lack of a lead role result in a spotty overall plotline, which is at times dizzying. But as in his previous masterful novels, Drury weaves carefully metered sentences, deeply felt scenes, and struggling characters into an endlessly entertaining tapestry of human comedy and small-town living. --Jonathan Fullmer

Review

—A New York Times Editors' Choice
—A San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book
—An Amazon.com Best Book of the Month


"I like [Drury's] oddball but easygoing rhythm. . . . I like his occasional bouts of absurdity. . . . All great books are strange. Every lasting work of literature since the very weird Beowulf has been strange, not only because it grapples with the strangeness around us, but also because the effect of originality is startling, making even the oldest books feel like brand-new stories. . . . Drury overlays the grand and mythic with the specific and everyday, giving ordinary moments the majesty of legend. . . . [He] gives us the wondrous and engaging stuff of real storytelling, of actual inquiry and investigation into the haunting and jokey puzzles of the world, at a time when so much literature stops short of invoking something larger or spends so much time touting grand themes that it forgets to make something happen. Pacific is a terrific book, and a strange one, as strange as the world and the great literature that helps us make our way through it."—Daniel Handler, The New York Times Book Review

"Drury gives his characters the sharpest dialogue I've read in some time. He's interested in people, their odd decisions and their strange perceptions about everyday things. . . . Drury never loses focus. . . . Each new character [he] introduces plucks an intricate web, and the reverberations are felt far and wide. On the surface, Pacific is a disarmingly plain tale about people managing loss. But look closer, and you'll see it's as deep as the ocean it's named after."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Elegant, simple prose . . . Drury's fiction is chockablock with . . . tiny epics unfurling and resolving in quick, universally funny vignettes. In Pacific, these center around the characters from his debut, The End of Vandalism, certainly among the funniest, most humane American novels of the last quarter-century. . . . The philosophy in [his] fiction resides somewhere between humanism and absurdism. . . . [Pacific] has a Hollywood audition scene as unsettling, absurd, and deadpan as anything in Sunset Boulevard . . . [and a] pitch-perfect satire of a [student activist group] worthy of Wet Hot American Summer."—The Boston Globe

"There are novels you read to find out what happens next, and novels you read to linger in the moment. Tom Drury's new book, Pacific, falls squarely in the second category. . . . [Written with] sharp observations and deadpan wit."—NPR

"The reader never sees where Drury is headed with his story, which is what makes his stories so fresh and satisfying and unlike other authors. His novels are reminiscent of the films of David Lynch, with a touch of author Haruki Murakami thrown in. . . . Reading him makes one feel more human. That's the beauty of Drury. . . . You read Drury to linger in the world he has created and marvel at the weird and wonderful characters that inhabit it."— World-Herald (Omaha)

"Some writers are good at drawing a literary curtain over reality, and splashing upon the curtain all colors of their fancies. And then there are the writers who raise the veil and lead us to see for the first time. Tom Drury belongs to the latter, and is a rare master at the art of seeing. Reading Pacific makes me once again fall in love with Drury’s words, and his perception of a world that is full of dangers and passions and mysteries and graces."—Yiyun Li

"A fine percussive beat sweeps the reader along . . . The always fresh perspective of this one-of-a-kind writer will have you responding like his character who 'laughed with surprise in her heart."—Kirkus Reviews

"Uncanny dialogue, deadpan humor, a few morbid twists, and a considerable amount of quirk make [Pacific] an engaging read."—Publishers Weekly

"As in his previous masterful novels, Drury weaves carefully metered sentences, deeply felt scenes, and struggling characters into an endlessly entertaining tapestry of human comedy and small-town living."—Booklist

"Poetic, clever, and concise . . . Drury-ese [is] a language that exists mostly in dialogue and description, a dry bed of humor built on a sturdy rhythm and benevolently wry observation. . . . If The End of Vandalism provided a world for readers to slow down and catch their breath, Pacific is determined to knock it out of them."—New York Observer

"One of the great strengths of Drury's fiction is his ability to suggest the deep funny-sadness of life without sinking to ridicule or bathos. He celebrates quirkiness of speech and habit for its ability to particularize the individual beyond stereotype. Unexpected gestures connect characters and reveal wounds of the heart. . . . Drury invests his characters with a warm-blooded immediacy that demands respect. . . . It's rare to read a novel with so little cliché or convoluted prose, in which the dialogue is both believable and exceptional."—Shelf Awareness

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Customer Reviews

The writing is economical yet densely unspoken.
wordtron
As it is this was not written in a style I like - a lot of introspective, choppy narrative with characters I don't care much for and a plot that is dull.
Texaswomyn
As I read this book, I kept feeling like I was trying to penetrate an enormous translucent shroud to get in touch with the plot and characters.
betc2

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By brjoro VINE VOICE on April 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An interesting read. Tom Drury's 'Pacific' is split between two siblings stories, one a transplant to Los Angeles and one living in the Midwest. Not much really happens, and there are no startling revelations at the end. It's what's probably referred to as a 'quiet' novel. The writing is very cinematic, I mainly read this novel on the Metro to and from work with music on my IPod, and it seemed to me to go well with the music I was listening to, if that makes sense. I found the chapters set in Los Angeles to be more interesting, Drury does an excellent job of creating the 'vibe' of life in LA. It reminded me a little bit of some of Bruce Wagner's writing. The midwest chapters were good but to me didn't gell as well as the LA chapters. But overall this is a very good book, very readable (it's under 200 pages) with good characters and clever dialogue.

For me, when I read books from the Amazon Vine program, a benchmark I set for myself in evaluating the books I read are "would I seek out another novel by this writer." With Tom Drury, that answer would be "definitely"!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sara Gore on April 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Tiny Darling is father to Micah Darling. Micah is brother to Lyris Darling and Eamon Hammerhill. Lyris and Micah are both the children of Joan Gower, who plays sister Mia on the television show "Forensic Mystic." Tiny was once married to Louise Norman, thrift store owner. This is just a segment of the web of relationships that tie together Tom Drury's Pacific.

Each person has a first name and a last name. Each possess a weight in the text. As Eamon says, "everyone must have an arc and a conflict." These characters and the entire novel are a series of tiny details shellacked together. Scenes are specific, most a span of minutes only. Together these details repeat, clump together to create a work.

If there is a plot, it is this. Micah moves from tiny Stone City to L.A. to live with his estranged mother. His father starts a career as the white hat equivalent of a bandit. A stranger from out of town sets up a shady business selling Celtic antiques. Ex-sheriff Dan Norman investigates. There are drugs and sword fights and beach volleyball. Mystic elements abound. And funerals and a good bit of TV watching. It is a small town after all.

The end is unsatisfying--how could it be otherwise? One does not read a book like this to finish a plotline. One reads it to hear Tiny's parting advice to his son ("Put your head down and random in the solar plexs. It's unexpected.") One reads it to probe the tensions between Louise and Lyris, the daughter she could never have. ("`I get afraid sometimes.' `Of what?' `Oh, that I will be left, or that it's the end of the world?' `Yeah,' said Louise. `Yeah.'" ). All an ending is in this context is a television being turned of, replacing these curious lives with a blank screen.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By wordtron on April 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reviewers often reference Twin Peaks when trying to describe Drury's writing, but the analogy misses the target, though it is aimed in the right general direction. Drury's stories aren't about anything in particular, no important themes, no propulsive plots, and they certainly aren't creepy in that brilliant Lynchian way. They seem to be more about the sweetly weird mystical America that we miss if we're not paying attention. The writing is economical yet densely unspoken. You know how Barry Gifford is doing his own thing? Tom Drury is similarly doing his own thing. Readers who enjoy stopping to smell the roses will likely appreciate the Drury-ian aesthetic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julie VINE VOICE on November 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When it comes to sparse prose, Drury takes the prize. It's a dicey thing to attempt what I would call short story imagery in the novel format. Somehow the frozen-in-time pictures work as poignant pauses in short stories; whereas, they just slow down the narrative in a novel. Drury somehow achieves the feel of short story imagery without the annoying pause. He moves from image to image until full pictures emerge of full lives. This book isn't like all the others you've read this year (in a good way). And for the record, Drury is way funnier than Hemingway.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Polzin on November 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tom Drury is great at moving the action of his story forward briskly. His stripped-down prose kept me interested and involved. Pacific is about multiple characters (I count about fifteen), and I found them all interesting, however, there were a few whose stories grabbed me (Micah, Tiny) and who I wanted to know more about. No one character's story is given precedence over the others, which lessened the emotional impact of each character's individual story for me. This also made the book feel too short (but maybe that's an indication of good writing).

A good read, nonetheless. Drury's writing and the vividness of the characters made it involving and enjoyable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wilhelmina Zeitgeist VINE VOICE on August 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Pacific" by Tom Drury is a fun read that has a rhythm with a bit of skip and hop to it. The chapters are relatively short so if you only have shorts amounts of time to read, finishing a chapter or two won't be a problem. They aren't so much chapters as they are vignettes. A most unique story in a most unique voice.

The flow really worked with my own creative artsy brain; I think like this and drive my friends nuts so I was totally in sync with this book. The dry humor went in tandem with the more morose dark parts of the story so well it balanced into a real literary treat for me.

The characters, the story, it was overall a most enjoyable read.While this book did stand on its own, I have to read Drury's other book, "The End of Vandalism" where characters from this book are also featured.

This "not your usual story" sort of book was a real winner for me. I did so enjoy it!
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