The Driftless Area

Tom Drury’s slender new novel is as meandering as its title, though it still manages to explore themes of fate, life, and death. It’s a lot to cram in, but this wry story mostly succeeds. Pierre Hunter, a Midwestern bartender, seems to have a bad-luck cloud following him around — he gets arrested for drunkenly wandering into a New Year’s party, falls through a patch of bad ice and nearly drowns, and hitches a ride with a psycho criminal. With a spare and direct prose style, Driftless is full of wonderfully ironic characters and cool moments of small wisdom, though a third-act shift into the metaphysical might leave some floating toward disbelief.

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