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End of Vandalism

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  879 Ratings  ·  146 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 (first published 1994)
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Patrick Brown
Feb 22, 2008 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jinny Chung
Aug 14, 2014 Jinny Chung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 04, 2014 John Pappas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2011 Edan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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.
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
Peyton Van amburgh
"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
Jun 13, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 11, 2015 Bert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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.
Aug 23, 2010 Kirby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I need to read more of his books--loved this!
Jul 18, 2007 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 27, 2015 Jillwilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 17, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Garrison Keillor comparisons do go deeper than just setting, there is something in the spirit of the characters that both writers capture. But Drury paints with more muted colours, the humour is more wry, the story feels closer to the real world than Keillor's enclosed bubble. This isn't to run down either in the comparison, merely that GK is a handy yardstick for me to measure this against.
In Jon McGregor's intro, he suggests some readers might grumble at the lack of plot, and it's true tha
Chris Perry
Aug 13, 2011 Chris Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 13, 2016 Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 25, 2014 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 14, 2015 Miles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A small town contains a universe, or as Prince Hamlet would have it: 'O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count, myself a king of infinite space..." Drury gives us a slow walk through the intertwined lives of a few small town midwesterners. It's hard to believe that something this laconic, this almost directionless, could hold the reader's attention so well. Chapter after chapter contains snippets of meandering conversations, difficult situations that end ambiguously, people who maybe m ...more
Oct 16, 2015 Jrnl010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Show, don't tell,' is een bekende schrijfregel die Amerikanen vaak bij uitstek beheersen. In Nederland hebben we Nescio en Bordewijk, maar in de Verenigde Staten zijn er veel meer voorbeelden, van The Catcher In The Rye, via In Cold Blood tot Stoner. Ook Tom Drury is een meester in het droog beschrijven van gebeurtenissen.

Als een van de hoofdpersonen, de plaatselijke sheriff Dan Norman verliefd wordt op de vrouw met wie hij later trouwt, staat er geen beschrijving van de vlinders in zijn buik
Dec 31, 2007 Cory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 03, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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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