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The End of Vandalism Hardcover – March 29, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence; 1st edition (March 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395621518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395621516
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The late Seymour Lawrence was celebrated for his discerning eye: Drury will figure among his literary legacies. Readers who encountered the 11 chapters of his first novel in the New Yorker can testify to the staying power of Drury's characters, generally lonely, well-meaning Midwesterners who live in the richly realized fictional terrain of Grouse County. In these small farming communities, where families have been intertwined for generations and no event can escape the shadow of the past and the petty gossip of the present, everyone knows everyone else, perhaps better than they should. A lovers' triangle is inevitable when petty thief Tiny Darling can't reconcile himself to his divorce from Louise; she, meanwhile, has drifted into an uneasy marriage with sheriff Dan Norman; and good-hearted, conscientious Dan now adds insomnia to the problems that plague him. Tiny is a comic and poignant antihero. Pugnacious and impulsive, but also confused and vulnerable, he is his own worst enemy, especially when he drinks. Tiny steals instinctively, because it seems logical to him: "Stealing is like being a chef . . . You can find work anywhere." Louise is muddled and unfocused until she becomes pregnant; Dan's quiet compassion can get in the way of his job. Drury has a bemused fondness for his characters' foibles and self-destructive impulses. In distinctive and dryly humorous dialogue, he captures the oblique, random chitchat of basically inarticulate people, who converse in a blend of ungrammatical vernacular and old-fashioned formality. His view of rural life is unsentimental: "Family agriculture seemed to be over and had not been replaced by any other compelling idea." And his sense of place and his eye for the particular in the mundane are extraordinary. This is a quiet book that grows in emotional resonance.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the 296 square miles of Grouse County, Iowa, "family agriculture seemed to be over and had not been replaced by any other compelling idea." Even so, Drury's fictional world teems with idiosyncratic life. We witness much of it through the eyes of Sheriff Dan Norman, who arrests Tiny Darling for vandalizing an antivandalism dance, marries the culprit's ex-wife, comforts a local stripper, and listens atop his trailer to a former actress witness for Christ. Drury's narrative style is as flat as the prairie land, but amidst apparent blandness we discover an abundance of droll characters and quirky events. Drury's first novel (much of which appeared earlier in The New Yorker ) affectionately chronicles the mundane but elevates it to a richly comic plane. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/93.
- Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

The characters are well-defined and real.
Manola Sommerfeld
It is laugh-out-loud funny and sweet without being saccharine.
jep
In a book this funny, that's enough for me.
Kate B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Wallace on December 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
My enthhusiasm for this novel sent me out searching a database of newspaper comments about it. A reader in Florida complained that the novel was too pointless to be any good. I am a notorious for reading a good book several times, and this novel is no exception. The deadpan humor fills me with glee whenever I pick it up. But there is more than just deadpan humor happening here. Like its literary ancestor, "Winesurg, Ohio," the running theme is the inadequacy of human communication in the face of petty meanness, true tragedy, and profound love. Before Louise marries Dan, she writes three times on a piece of paper, "Show me love." And then she hands it to him. Her need to communicate with Dan transcends even her sleep: She sleepwalks into his insomniacal nights and interrupts his excuses for avoiding their bed. I've determined that the Florida reader who was disappointed with this novel is probably a chatty type, probably also suburban. The characters in The End of Vandalism are taciturn and rural, from a place "where family farming ended and no compelling idea showed any interest in taking its place." There is a wonderful economy of language in places like Grouse County and in this novel, but the dialogue and narrative are as loaded as an opening-day shotgun. So, there is a point, Mr. Florida. You just didn't get it. Boy, I feel better.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
The End of Vandalism certainly is a unique, enjoyable read. Tom Drury's Grouse County and the people who inhabit it are quite a bunch. Ther eis Dan Norman, the rather half-hearted county sheriff; his wife Louise, who must contend with Tiny, her screw-up ex-husband and her tart-toungued mother Mary; and an assortment of other oddball characters who pop in and out of the narrative.
This novel does not take place in the "real world", but rather in an alternative America in a parallel universe. It's a shame that real people don't converse with the nutty, deadpan humor that Drury's characters do. The events in the novel happen to all of us, but most of us don't deal with them, or comment on them, like these Grouse County residents. It is these differences between reality and Grouse County that make this novel so enjoyable. It took me about 50 pages or so to get into the book, but once I did, I found it a completely enjoyable read. I would recommend this book to anyone and I look forward to reading Drury's latest.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Manola Sommerfeld on October 20, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sure, this book is about Middle America, and there are no exciting lifestyles, just people dealing with mundane every-day occurrences. So what's so boring about that? I find human nature endlessly fascinating, and Tom Drury does a wonderful job depicting it. Whether the problem is fixing your tractor or fixing your marriage, he makes it interesting. The characters are well-defined and real. Give me this before any hot and trendy novel with 'exciting' characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Wilding on December 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Tom Drury has written a sometimes sad, often funny book called "The End of Vandalism." What's it about? Absolutely nothing.

Set in a ficticious county in Iowa (Drury even drew us a map), the plotless novel takes the reader through a few years in the community, primarily focusing on the county sherriff, Dan, and his wife, Louise. With minor developments here and there, one almost feels like the plot is coming but not quite there all the way until the last paragraph, leaving you feeling hollow and without accomplishment upon completion.

What is lost in this book's absence of plot though, is somewhat made up for in characters. Sherriff Dan Norman is a completely believable do-nothing enforcer in rural Iowa, and his marital problems with Louise are as petty and irratic as those of couples across the continent. The large supporting cast is equally believable, and makes up a loveable, albeit slow-moving population.

"The End of Vandalism" certainly had its moments, and for all of my disinterest in it while reading, I ploughed through it like it was the best of novels. If you're looking for something light and simple some weekend, this is the book for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first discovered this book as short stories in "The New Yorker" a few years back, and would madly search through the Table of Contents each time a new New Yorker arrived in the hopes that there would be more on Dan and Louise and all the rest. I was able to track down the book later and got to read it all; from beginning to "end". Since that first time I have re-read the book at least 5 times and still laugh and cry. (Maybe for some of you that means nothing, but I am not a "book person" and this (for me) really means something.) I especially enjoy Mr. Drury's "ear" for the vernacular and I really enjoy the true-to-life characters and situations. (In this book there is no murder! Can you believe it?) A wonderful book. Thank you Mr Drury.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jep on December 31, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The End of Vandalism is beautifully written, and a joy to read. The truthfulness of the characters and how they keep moving forward as the midwestern farm life they have known slowly fades around them is at the core of this novel. It is laugh-out-loud funny and sweet without being saccharine. The tragedies we would ordinarily expect happily don't materialize, while the ones we don't anticipate are deeply moving and profound. I don't think any of the other novels by Tom Drury have lived up to this exquisite first novel, which I will continue to read again and again for all of the pleasure it continues to give me.
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