Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Audiobook Review: The End of Vandalism
Author: Tom Drury
Introduction: Paul Winter
Narrator: Lloyd James
Unabridged, Length 10.5 hrs
Publisher: AudioGo 9/1/13
Welcome to Grouse County, a fictional Midwest that is at once familiar and amusingly eccentric, where a thief vacuums the church before stealing the chalice, a lonely woman paints her toenails in a drafty farmhouse, and a sleepless man watches his restless bride scatter their bills beneath the stars. At the heart of The End of Vandalism is an unforgettable love triangle set off by a crime: Sheriff Dan Norman arrests Tiny Darling for vandalizing an anti-vandalism dance and then marries the culprit's ex-wife Louise.
When I began listening to Paul Winter's introduction to The End of Vandalism I was impatient and didn't really pay attention. He was talking about an author I wasn't familiar with and I wanted to get on to the story. Except, there really wasn't a story. The characters were engaging (there was around 60) and their details were interesting, but there was no plot. No clues to pick up on, no exciting action to move it along. Yet it was one of the best books I've listened to in a long time. When it ended, I was ready to hear what Paul Winter had to say so I listened to the introduction again. He described it as "an intelligent and kindhearted examination of a group of economically adrift characters in the modern American Middle West. And it's fucking funny." He was right. When I heard Mary's description of how her friend Hans Cook took LSD because it made his neck feel better, you could probably hear me laughing in the next county. I replayed it and laughed again until I had tears in my eyes. Suddenly I didn't care it lacked plot, clues or exciting action. I was listening to people such as I've known in my life except they weren't from the south, and well, maybe they were more eccentric. And definitely funnier. It was like a delightful river of conversations and scenes flowing along with no apparent destination and I never knew where it would take me. Lloyd James has a wonderful way of carrying you through the river of narrative. His performance of all the voices was perfect, especially the women and Mary in particular. I am sure The End of Vandalism is wonderful in print but with Lloyd James, it was absolutely fantastic.
This was my first experience with Tom Drury's work. I loved it and I'm looking forward to more. I'm also adding Lloyd James to my list of favorite narrators. I give The End of Vandalism 5 stars and highly recommend it.
Review copy provided by AudioGo.