Interview with Author Tom Drury about his Grouse County Novels


My name is Tom Drury. I’m an American writer.
I’ve been living in Berlin since 2015 and what I’m doing right now is going around and
touring with several books. A translation in French that we just did for a week and
then the collected Grouse County novels, which Klett Cotta published under the title “Grouse
County”. These are three novels I wrote about a fictional Midwestern town. I think if you read the novels you see that the style changes over the course of the twenty
plus years in which they were written. The characters are probably the one consistent
aspect. And my interest always when I came back to them after writing other novels and
doing other things in between was always to find out just what was happening with these
people that I’d created for “The End of Vandalism”. And what was going on in their lives and how
were they… what happened to them as the grew older and the children in the first book
started to grow up. And just following as much as you would an actual community. To
me I feel like they sort of exist and I’m just checking in with them to see how their
lives are going. Not really, I don’t think so. I knew obviously
in writing the first book I knew I was writing a novel about Grouse County. And what happened
is I wrote another book called “The Black Brook” and then after that I felt like I wanna
come back to Grouse County and see what’s happening there and to follow a different
group, follow a much smaller cast. Because the cast at “The End of Vandalism” was very
large, it was like sixty-eight people listed in the back like a cast list for a play. And,
so… Then after I did two it seemed logical to do a third and I usually have done a Grouse
County book and then another book that’s not connected and then a Grousy County, then another
and then a Grouse County. Sort of like after writing an unrelated novel I find myself very
curious about going back to them. When they connect with these novels they feel
that they have been to a real place and met real people and almost lived among them. And
that’s kind of the feeling that I would hope they would have. That they would experience
the novel as they would experience life. And the novels are written to reflect the way
that life appears to me. Rather than trying to reflect a literary model, I take the model
from the world around me and the life that I’ve lived and life that other’s have lived. I came in 2015 to be at the American Academy. And actually there were… probably five or six
people who were in that American Academy Class who stayed on in Berlin afterward because
it’s a great place for arts. It’s affordable, it’s lively and it’s easy to become part of
the artistic community there. I had to go back and I taught in 2016. I taught in Virginia
for a semester and when I came back to Berlin just coming in from the airport in the cab
I was looking around thinking this feels like home. So I value that. The current project I’m working on is a novel set again in a kind of a fictional place in
the Midwest but it’s based on the legend and to some extend the reality of the character
Faust. Whom of course we know primarily from Goethe’s Faust but there have been many other
versions written and I guess whatever attracted these other writers to this legend and this
figure, this doomed man, also appeals to me. So I’ve been working on that.

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