Pacific by Tom Drury / Grove Press, 208 pages
“Live in the world” is the slogan of Micah Darling’s controversial high school club The New Luddites, his call-to-arms against indifference, and Tom Drury’s credo as an author. Drury’s new novel Pacific is another astute and perceptive trip to Grouse County, once again following the beloved characters from The End Of Vandalism, and Hunts In Dreams. Pacific is more gold from Drury, whose unparalleled deadpan humor and meticulous prose are on full display, ready to be devoured in a single reading.
Pacific follows Dan Norman (former sheriff turned private investigator) as he investigates strangers in Grouse County, and tries to locate a mysterious and valuable ancient stone. Dan’s wife Louise has inherited a photography studio she operates as a thrift store, and is dealing with intangible problems of her own. Tiny Darling is struggling in life without steady work and his children Micah and Lyris, as Micah travels to Los Angeles, and Lyris moves in with her boyfriend. Tiny, once a petty thief, is now drawn into a different kind of crime. In Los Angeles, Micah is presented with city life, new friends, freedom and romance, but yearns for his home in the Midwest.
Pacific will work best after reading The End Of Vandalism, and Hunts In Dreams, but can also stand alone. Drury’s dialogue can take some getting used to, and can be compared to Raymond Carver, Stewart O’Nan, and filmmakers Hal Hartley and the Coen Brothers. His descriptions are sparse and the narratives are meandering, but once you’re acclimated to Drury’s language, there is no comparison. Pacific alternates between longing and realization, becoming and desperation. Drury’s Grouse County novels are naturalism verging on surreal, simultaneously heartbreaking and funny, and supremely true. His characters want to find themselves, and live in the world. Find this book.