One of the highest compliments I can pay a book or author is to finish reading it, and then to ask, of myself or the empty room at large: "Where have YOU been all my life?" When I finished reading his novel The Driftless Area, I turned back to the title page and asked, "Tom Drury, where have you been all my life?"
Drury's 213-page (score one for the author: I loves me some SHORT novels) novel is a marvel of economy and small but subtle shifts in perspective. It's the story of Pierre Hunter (score two: that's a great name), a somewhat aimless mid-twenties guy who is bartending in a supper club in his Iowa hometown (score three: I can just taste the brandy-old-fashioned-sweets served at such a club). One winter night, out ice-skating late--don't question me here, just accept that aimless young men in the American midwest might conceivably do such a thing--he falls through thin ice and is rescued by a mysterious and solitary young woman who lives alone in a house near the lake, with whom he promptly falls in love.
But hilarity does not really ensue. The woman with whom he falls in love is not what she seems, and Pierre, bless him, can't seem to stop getting into trouble, as when he comes into the possession of $77,000--in a way that only he could manage, on a hitchhiking trip--and the money's (understandably) irate owners come after him.
It's got a little mystery, a little violence, a little love, even a bit of paranormal activity, and it presents it all through the eyes of one of my favorite male characters yet. Read this one, even if my review hasn't done it credit. I'm off to find some other Tom Drury titles.