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The End of Vandalism

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  970 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
Ten years ago, Tom Drury's groundbreaking debut, The End of Vandalism, was serialized in The New Yorker, was compared to the work of Sherwood Anderson and William Faulkner by USA Today, and was named a Best Book of the Year in multiple publications. Now, appearing simultaneously with his first new novel in six years, Drury's debut is back in print.

Welcome to Grouse County
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 2nd 2006 by Grove Press (first published 1994)
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16th out of 151 books — 52 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Patrick Brown
Feb 22, 2008 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is a literary highwire act. There's no good reason it should be as wonderful as it is. The plot meanders all over the place. It jumps from character to character with little reason, and it has what would be described as "tone problems" if we were all sitting around workshopping it. Yet it's perfect. I can't decide whether it's the funniest sad book I've ever read or the saddest funny book. It was better than Hunts in Dreams which I really liked. Just read this guy already.
Sep 04, 2008 Martin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008books, favorites
The End of Vandalism was a great book once you start to "get it." It is written in extremely simple language, deliberately paced, and the humor is DRY in the extreme. The writing has a very specific rhythm to it -- unlike any book I can think of that I've read before -- that takes some getting used to. But once you are won over to these characters and style and pacing it is an absolutely wonderful read and ultimately very affecting. (I am interested to read something else by Tom Drury; this was ...more
’En el condado de Grouse’ (The End of Vandalism, 1994), del norteamericano Tom Drury, fue publicada en principio por capítulos en The New Yorker, hasta que tras su éxito fue completada para formar una novela propiamente dicha. La acción transcurre en el territorio ficticio de Grouse, y el peso de la historia recae en tres personajes, el sheriff Dan Norman, Louise y Tiny. Aunque se les da voz a más personajes (predicadores, granjeros, comerciantes, estudiantes, artistas, etc.), y por tanto podría ...more
Sep 21, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
Drury has such a wonderful and distinct style that blows my mind. How he's able to write this novel with such a detached omniscience, yet give such an intimate understanding of these characters, is something I don't know if I'll ever understand. And I suppose that's alright. I know that there's no way that I'll ever be able to write like this, as it's just not my voice, but, man... I do love this man's writing.

I read this simply because I picked up his newest novel, PACIFIC, only to see that it
Aug 23, 2010 Kirby rated it it was amazing
I really loved the hilarious simplicity of this. I'm getting so tired of this trend of ridiculous quirkiness in literature and film, where the "interesting" characters wear two different shoes and own gerbil-costume stores and talk in Juno-speak. It always seems like the author is trying too hard.

On the other hand, Drury effortlessly creates completely engrossing characters whose quirks are understated and believable; whose deadpan dialogue is sparse yet powerful; who can capture your attention
Jinny Chung
Aug 14, 2014 Jinny Chung rated it really liked it
Shelves: love-love-love
"Fargo" meets Wes Anderson.

"The visitors were farm women, for the most part, and they came shaking the water out of their scarves, and carrying bundles of diapers, cases of formula, and bales of bleached-out clothing that in at least one case had not been worn since World War II. Helene Plum even brought a beef-macaroni casserole in Corning Ware, although it was not clear who was supposed to eat it. But then, Helene Plum reacted to almost any kind of stressful news by making casseroles, and had
Oct 04, 2011 Edan rated it it was amazing
"Dan's tie was crooked and he had a kind of careless happiness on his face. This is the way of men."

"Dan surprised Louise with his sexual side, and she felt like a retired skier from the movies who learns everything over again and wins the big jump against the East Germans in a blur of sun on snow."

"In the window of the houses she could see people washing dishes, huddling before the flickering fire of television, reading magazines in chairs."

Just re-read this and am stunned by how odd it is.
Simon A. Smith
Jun 07, 2013 Simon A. Smith rated it it was amazing
If you like authors like Richard Yates, Raymond Carver, Evan S. Connell and/or Sherwood Anderson, you'll probably like this book. It's filled with quiet, subtle moments of grief, humor and glimpses into the everyday human condition. Drury may be guilty of using too many characters, but his central ones here are fully formed, believable and intriguing. Drury isn't quite as brilliant as the previous writers I mentioned, but he's damn good. He's one of the best around at charging and injecting the ...more
John Pappas
Jan 04, 2014 John Pappas rated it it was amazing
At first I was frustrated with the seeming lack of narrative momentum in this phenomenal novel, but the lovingly rendered characters of the small rural towns of Grouse County quickly conspired to work their magic on me. Each character, especially the two major protagonists and their antagonist, is drawn with such sympathy and generosity of spirit that it is impossible not to root for them all as they struggle through their lives. While billed as a comic novel (and it is hilarious at times) it al ...more
Jun 11, 2015 Bert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orgasmic
While I was reading this I kept thinking of interesting things to say about it, but I can't really remember them now. This novel reminded me that novels don't have to go anywhere or do anything to be great, they can just be great. There's something magical about that, but it also involves great craft. This is a really funny novel, anecdotal, laconic, also heartwarming and sad, and if you like Richard Russo or Gilmore Girls, that kind of thing, then this is in the same general ballpark. So great.
David Davy
May 26, 2015 David Davy rated it it was amazing
Not sure if Grouse County can be found on any map, but I'm pretty sure it is somewhere between Winesburg, Ohio and Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.
Mar 17, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few months ago I listened to a short story based on this book on the New Yorker magazine's excellent podcast. I'd never heard of the writer but was keen to read the novel. It takes a while to adjust to the writing style at first, the writing is not flowery, events are narrated as they happen with little embellishment but the writer creates a world of characters and their lives so well that the reader is quickly hooked.
So much happens as well and the mundane becomes pivotal to the readers exper
Jul 29, 2015 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a widely praised debut novel that I found to be a little unusual. Set in a rural Midwestern town (seems like Iowa or southern Minnesota), the story revolves around three central characters; Dan, the mild-mannered sheriff who may be a little to forgiving and naive, Louise, a photographer, and Tiny, Louise's soon to be ex-husband who continually finds himself in some sort of trouble. Swirling around these three are dozens of local characters, so many that the author provides us with a cast ...more
Mar 05, 2015 Apollinaire rated it really liked it
A very odd, brave novel. Drury pushes disjunction so far--between scenes, people, episodes--that until you get used to his mode and begin to trust that it's a legitimate take on the world and lives, "The End of Vandalism" risks toppling into twee comedy, as in the Coen Bros' "Fargo," say.
This novel's power depends on the rightness of its weirdness--that it contain a spark of likelihood psychologically if not actually. All you have to do is read Drury's later "Pacific," which takes up this same
Jun 13, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
I started reading this book after I heard a portion of it read on a New Yorker podcast. I understand that it is the first part of a trilogy of books about the same basic characters. I will be seeking out the next two books because this writer creates characters who are vivid, funny, and quietly heroic without seeming to be made up at all. Anyone who grew up in a small town (whether you stayed in that small town or escaped to some other place) will relate to these characters. Drury seems to be a ...more
Peyton Van amburgh
Aug 21, 2015 Peyton Van amburgh rated it it was amazing
"I am always hungry these days," she wrote. "Promised food, we do not get enough. The yard people have been here since morning. They miss so many leaves it seems to make things worse instead of better. They sit on the sidewalk eating their lunch and I want their chips. I would like to go out and rake with them. They probably never took care of a place alone. They probably never had a house to themselves. Raking would be a way for me to make some money and buy a clock radio. I know I have mention ...more
Jul 18, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
if garrison keillor's Lake Wobegon stuff were actually funny, with a healthy dose of darkness, this book is probably what would happen. set in a small midwestern town, drury paints the various goings on of its citizens in a voice i'd describe as deadpan americana. imagine raymond chandler in iowa without the cynicism and crime. something like that. wry, witty, and warm. his other books are pretty good, too. but i think this is his best.
Dec 20, 2014 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Drury's forte is writing about the peculiarities of small town Midwestern folk. The voice is funny and knowing. The storyline was not as much of a driver here, unlike similar stories from, say, Richard Russo. I identified with the citizens of Drury's town, being from the Midwest near Iowa (and having some peculiarities) myself. (And on an odd note, this is the second fiction book I've read this month that mentions Davenport, Iowa.) I laughed at quite a few lines throughout.
Chris Perry
Aug 13, 2011 Chris Perry rated it it was amazing
Tom drury really captured the heart of the American Midwest. He really set the scene for a small town where most people know each other and too much about each others lives. I throughly enjoyed the heavy dialogue and the narrative was spot on. If you are looking for a book that captures the essence of a small town and the lives of it's people, this book is for you. If you need suspense or a meaning to the overall story, this book may not be for you. Great read!
Mar 13, 2016 Douglas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
The meaning of our lives is revealed in the anxiety, heartbreak, and mystery of small moments. Like Drury's characters, we're adrift. We grab at the lifelines that run between us, unsure of what's at the other end. It's a clumsy set up, the task we're set in this world, but If we can muster the compassion--er, love--for each other that Drury has for these characters, we'll make our way through the storm. We'll summon the white dog.
May 06, 2016 Shaindel rated it it was amazing
I started reading The End of Vandalism because I heard Antonya Nelson read a chapter from the novel on the New Yorker Fiction Podcast and immediately fell in love with it. Such a beautiful novel. If you're from the Midwest, it doesn't even feel like you're reading. It just feels like you're home. I can't wait to check out the rest of the trilogy.

Dec 31, 2007 Cory rated it it was amazing
What a great way to end the reading year. Drury's book is amazing: at times funny and then devastating, spare and yet rich with life. He writes in a simple manner about characters who themselves are not simple. I've heard that The Black Brook is also great, so I may read that next.

Thanks for the heads up on this one, Edan!
Vivienne Strauss
May 02, 2014 Vivienne Strauss rated it it was amazing
My first book by Drury - love his style. Really great writing, believable and well developed characters. I couldn't put this down. He captures the joy, sadness and absurdity in every day life. I laughed out loud many times, cried hard once and didn't want the story to end. Can't wait to read more.
Jan 27, 2009 Kassandra rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub
This was a fairly easy book to read. It generated quite a lot of discussion at my book club. There were parts that made me laugh out loud. I would recommend this book to those that come from the midwest.
Nov 03, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it
One of the driest, funniest books I've ever read though I would not categorize it as a comedy. The plot is almost impossible to summarize, other than that it is a collection of scenes about the inhabitants of a small town and the various hardships and tragedies that befall them.
Oct 11, 2012 Roger rated it really liked it
Tom Drury writes about the midwest with stunning detail and deadpan humor. His dialogue is spot on. A rare look at life in the margins. Emotional, authentic, and funny. I love this book.
Sep 02, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it
I need to read more of his books--loved this!
Apr 27, 2015 Jillwilson rated it really liked it
The Americans are giving me a good reading year. I loved this novel. First published in 1994, it must have flown under the radar and has just been republished. I stumbled across it while listening to the always great New Yorker Fiction podcast. ( ) The New Yorker features what became chapter 4 of the novel though within the podcast, it is called ‘Accident at the Sugar Beet’. It’s read by Antonya Nelson and discussed with Deborah Treisman. Listen to it for ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
Sometimes you read a book and wonder, "Where have you been all my life?"

Well, Tom Drury's "The End of Vandalism" has been sitting tucked away in boxes and hidden closets the past seven or so years, in fact, not making the grade for inclusion on my overflowing main bookshelves. Finally, I found it again and resolved to read it at last, and it was a total delight.

This novel is a stellar example of the quirky American regional novel — Midwest, in this case — peppered with humor, odd characters, rea
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Tom Drury was born in 1956. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Drury has published short fiction and essays in The New Yorker, A Public Space, Ploughshares, Granta, The Mississippi Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. His novels have been translated into German, Spanish, and French. "Path Lights," a story Drury published in The New Yorker, was made into a ...more
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