End of Vandalism
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End of Vandalism

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  494 ratings  ·  79 reviews
The exciting debut of an exceptional writer. Tom Drury describes life in the American Midwest with deadpan humor and unsparing affection. The story centers around a dedicated sheriff, a petty thief, and a woman searching for herself. All are part of an odd triangle underlying their ordinary lives. The first 11 chapters were published in The New Yorker to wide acclaim.
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (first published 1994)
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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.
Martin
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
Chris
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...more
Apollinaire
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...more
Jinny Chung
"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 once, in Faribault, Minneso...more
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
Kirby
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...more
John
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.
Tim
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...more
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!
Jeff
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...more
Cory
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.
Eric
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.
Kassandra
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.
Roger
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
Oscar
’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
Terri
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...more
Jason Heath
Feb 04, 2008 Jason Heath rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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...more
Alice
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
Don Sommers
He's captured the cadence, pace and sense of dramatic scale of the rural Midwest like nothing else I've read. This guy obviously comes from these places. It would make the world's dullest movie, but as a book, it somehow holds attention. I wonder how confusing it might be to someone who's never experienced interactions like these beyond watching Fargo or an episode of Parks & Rec.
Who, though, but someone speaking from experience could capture types so well and with such economy? E.g.: "Marie...more
Elizabeth
As a reader I'm a story gobbler. Drury's first novel is replete with stories, some intertwined, some not, all set in Grouse County. He gets us to laugh, but not at his characters. The tale of Dan and Louise are at the center of this book and I found their joys and troubles the most compelling. Often, when I returned to the book after a day away, I couldn't remember who the characters were and how they related to one another and this bothered me. The reader is dropped into the middle of their liv...more
Stephanie
Like Richard Russo but with edge, sophistication of style and subtle darkness.

One of my favorite passages:

Tiny had to wait in line behind two young women - a tall one in embroidered denim and another one with straight black hair - who were looking at the course catalogue.
"I'm thinking about Rock Poets," said the taller one.
"Who are they doing this semester?"
"Tom Petty and Wallace Stevens."

And another:

Mary had read in Reader's Digest about an Indian man who could slow his heart to a standstill by...more
Alex Brown
The humor here all stems from a deep and wry knowledge of the characters. It's dry wit, but more important it's compassionate. The plot wanders (a lot) in the service of following the people and there's an unusual kind of suspense in wondering who will or will not have a tidy story arc. Beautiful, spare writing.
Tyler Bigney
Took me about 50 pages to "get it" and once I got it I really enjoyed the rest of the book. Funny, serious, and moving, sometimes all at once.

Reminded me of Carver - the setting, the deadpan dialect, the dryness. Really excited to read Pacific now, which reintroduces the characters.
Jeff
Man oh man, this is a wonderful, aimless, hysterical, lulu of a novel. It's not about much of anything--it's about a small town and the people who live there and try (and try) to connect in one way or another. Drury's voice is direct, funny and ironic--but never in a mean, oh look at these rubes--sort of way. These people, and the feel like people, live mostly quiet unremarkable lives, but Drury understands the miracle in the everyday.
The ending isn't as strong as everything else, but I've read...more
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