When I was still on vacation in Nevada County, California I strolled into a bookstore. There is a little history here because the owner of this bookstore use to have a lot smaller store inside a coffee shop. For a brief moment in time after I graduated high school I worked at that coffee shop. I hate to admit it, but I took a book from one of his bookshelves and never paid. I did get fired from that job without any real explanation. I doubt it was from the book as the owner of the cafe was a bit stuck up, and I was still coming out of my "hippy" phase from high school.
I guess coming back to the store nearly 10 years later and purchasing a book or two is kind of like paying back the book I so graciously "took."
The book I bought this time was Drop City by T.C. Boyle and it is a well written story about the misguided dreams of hippies and the essence of adult life. I heard about T. C. Boyle through one of the NPR podcasts I listen too, either "Forum" or "Talk of the Nation." I knew I wanted to check out one of his books but didn't know which one. That is why when I was in the bookstore I asked the store clerk. (Note: not the owner but his collegue)
This guy was an aging hippy himself, with long gray hair in a pony tail and giving off that kind of easy-going walk. He told me he was reading a few books by the author and so showed me where they were. He recommended one of them, although it wasn't Drop City. He went back to the front desk and I was left to make my choice.
I have figured out that the best way to pick out a book is to read the first few chapters. If it catches my attention and makes me want to keep reading then I know it won't be a disappoint. That is exactly what happened for me with, "Drop City."
I was excited to read this book because my parents were hippies and to some extent still are. What I learned from this book is a great deal of insight into the inner workings of hippies during their heydays. Sure they were all about "peace and love" but it seems that they still had their own ambitions driving them.
The story is intertwined with a couple of square characters who are making their lives out in Alaska. It shows you how there were people at that time interested in getting away from the "man" but in different ways. One was to live out in the middle of nowhere and subside for yourself. The other was to rebel and do drugs as the hippies did.
Mixed in with the stories are vivid imagery of the Alaskan and Californian countryside. Having lived in Northern California I was able to re-imagine the scenery in the book perfectly.
I highly recommend picking up this book because if you were born from actual hippy parents, the ones who really got into it, then it will give you a great perspective on their generation. Although my father has never read this book it provided us with great conversations over Skype. I have yet to talk to my Mom about it, but hope to do so soon.
My notion of hippies is that I thought they roamed the country in search of their own meaning and did a lot of drugs. Yet there is so much more to it than that. It leaves me wanting to know about this generation, not only from what the hippies did to the people who didn't catch onto the same vibe. I am curious now about the movements they started and what impact it has had on the West and the rest of the world.
If anything, I am sad the story has ended and wish there was more to read. Hopefully you too can catch on to this great book.