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The End of Vandalism

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  571 ratings  ·  93 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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Community Reviews

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Patrick Brown
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.
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
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
Jinny Chung
"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
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
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.
Simon A. Smith
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
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
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
I need to read more of his books--loved this!
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.
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
Chris Perry
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!
Aug 12, 2014 Spiros rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people
I have hand-sold many copies of this book (we had remaindered copies for years), and yet I'm always at a loss to tell people exactly why they should read it. I usually say something to the effect of "It's insidiously funny, but in an unostentatious way" and leave it at that. Having just reread it for the first time in about 10 years, I am still at a loss.

"Tiny Darling was still living with his brother Jerry Tate down in Pringmar. This was going better than might have been expected. Jerry, who wo
This is a surprisingly strong book. I stumbled across this book when reading a blurb on Amazon about Tom Drury's newest book due out this spring.

The strong blurbs posted in regards to The End of Vandalism are all valid and if anything understated.

The book visits a small rural county in the Midwest, in Iowa I believe but here at one thirty a.m. I may not be remembering that correctly.

As the book begins we see Tiny and Louise Darling giving blood. They are helped along in the process by County
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jim Loter
Brilliant, generally plotless novel that perfectly captures the people, tone, and rhythm of the American Midwest without judgment or condescension. Written in a simple, sparse, and almost Runyon-esque prose, the book largely follows county sheriff, Dan Norman; his wife, Louise; and Louise's ex-husband, Tiny as they meander through a couple years of life in rural Iowa. Drury's narration and dialog reflects all the small-talk, passive-aggressivity, and down-home pseudo-philosophy of the region. To ...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
Patrick Faller
Drury's first novel works on a number of levels--as a comic-realistic pageant of the Midwestern character; the development and closure of a love triangle between a sheriff, a thief, and a stubborn, compassionate photographer's assistant; an open-door story of life as it is lived, meandering, full of complications and small victories and defeats and frustrations. If for nothing else, read this book for its ability to make you laugh out loud--such a hard thing to do, but Drury manages his humor la ...more
I received a copy of The End of Vandalism through a Goodreads Giveaway.

Sometimes when I read an author's first novel, I find myself noticing the author's effort--sometimes a first novel feels labored, and sometimes it just doesn't work. Barely a quarter of the way through The End of Vandalism, though, I realized that I trusted this author. I wasn't distracted by the attempt to craft the novel, I was just reading and enjoying it. This is not an ordinary first novel.

I enjoyed the map at the front
Jason Heath
Feb 04, 2008 Jason Heath rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lit. Lovers
A Small Town Novel

After receiving a new copy of Tom Drury’s The End of Vandalism as a gift, I evaluated the interesting and colorful cover, a picture of a barn’s hayloft in orange twilight, and read the short summary on the back. My first thought was, “a novel about a Midwestern town?” But, after reading the first chapter, I realized that the novel is really about the connections and relationships in small towns—lives, not so different in their basic form from our own—and the funny and tragic th
Barrie Collins
This was mentioned somewhere by Jo Ann Beard (In Zanesville) so I had to check it out. Dry humour, it was so flat and dry in the beginning that I almost gave up, until I 'got it'. I wasn't quite prepared to believe Paul Winner's intro at first, but he's right, it is 'fucking funny'. I'm reading it concurrently with In Zanesville, there's a kind of fit.
Quote from intro:
... takes a personality test given by a man claiming to be the local representative of a program called Lunarhythm, which which d
Jan 07, 2015 Gila rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Small town troubles and heartache in the Midwest. I'd read many passages of this novel years ago when they were published in the New Yorker as stories, and thought they were very strong in that form, but sitting down with the book in its entirety, my interest wandered and never quite returned. I know I'm in the minority on this book, with all its numerous and repeated accolades and awards, so probably best for me to leave it at that (zips mouth, metal on the tongue).
Good summer fun reading. Two scenes in the book were so hilarious that I nearly fell off my couch while reading them! But beyond that, the stories are rambling with a large cast of characters, lovingly but realistically presented with warts and all. The small-town nature of Grouse County's literal small towns provides the back drop for the story of three main characters. The book's richness is provided by lots of additional minor characters, each contributing to the picture presented of life in ...more
Beth Johnston
This was an enjoyable book. After reading all the reviews, I feel like I’m missing something. The humor was dry, witty, but not “hilarious.” The trajectory of the plot was nontraditional, which I liked, but that didn’t make it an “epic novel” for me. I guess it felt like how my brain naturally meanders. The pace was very slow, which a lot of people liked, but the ending was like “That’s it???” Its strength is in the character development and the style made them feel like they were part of my lif ...more
precise/off-kilter saga of a county in an unnamed midwestern state. sort of like fargo without any serious crime, but simultaneously more twee/more humane than that. about 100 pages in i was ready to give up on this as mannered and toothless but i came to love the characters in a way that i am usually immune to. not a whole lot happens in this book: a guy wins a sheriff election, there is a pregnancy, an endearing shithead teen and the foreign exchange student he loves almost die in a snowdrift. ...more
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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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