Jonathan at Bookseller Crow described as ‘once in a lifetime’ the launch party of the new UK publication of Tom Drury’s The End of Vandalism on Thursday 26th February, and his excitement was palpable: one of the shop regulars said to me about the bookseller, “he’s as excited as a kid meeting Santa Claus”.
The shop was fit to bursting, not least with fans of Tom Drury – Jonathan confessed to having pressed this book into many hands over the years. For those fans, the only thing better than The End of Vandalism was hearing Tom Drury read it, in his soft American accent.
Tom Drury had something for everyone, winning over the crowd by admitting that he was as nervous about the evening as he was about first meeting his agent, Sarah Chalfant. For the readers, Drury shared his love of the characters in The End of Vandalism and talked about books that had influenced him. For the writers, Drury was frank about the process of bringing a cast and a setting to life. For the die hard fans, Drury admitted that he likes to keep checking back in to see how those characters are doing, and that there may well be another installment in the chronicles of Grouse County to follow Hunt in Dreams and Pacific. For those hoping for a good laugh, Drury didn’t disappoint either.
Drury was clear about his reasons for wanting to write: “My experience growing up in a small town, where there wasn’t tonnes of communication, somehow made me want to write a novel in which people would come out and talk. They would talk the way I wanted them to when I was a kid.”
Asked if he sat in the Hemingway (what’s in the book is the tip of the iceberg) or Beckett (everything I know is on the page) camp, Drury said “Whatever I know to be true is in the book. Everything else is just speculation on my part.”
Many of us, sometimes without being conscious of it, read to get more out of the world, to get more out of life. Drury suggested about his book that “…if it has any positive influence, it would make people look around a little more and notice what’s going on and notice the beauty and the sadness and the humour and the trouble that’s around us all the time.”
The proceedings were deftly orchestrated by writer Jon McGregor, who penned an introduction to Old Street Publishing’s new release and was on hand to share his own enthusiasm for the book – but not the warning contained in that introduction that “If you read The End of Vandalism you will become one of those people who try to foist it upon other people, your eyes shining with the unsettling delight of having lived through it.”
About his time as a journalist, and his decision to stop working, Drury said “you only have so many words, and you want to use them on the right thing.” The End of Vandalism is just that.