Home—Brooklyn, NY. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and novelist.
Transatlantic Henfield Award; Ingram Merrill Award; Granta Best American Writers Under Forty shortlist.
Green Bananas, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.
Disobedience: A Novel, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1993.
Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
Novelist Michael Drinkard is a writer whose novels have both looked forward into the future and backward into the colonial history of the United States. Disobedience: A Novel is set in what a Publishers Weekly reviewer called a "semi-futuristic, Pynchonesque world" where social interaction occurs over video lines, where food is treated with sprays that block carcinogens, and where information technology rules the home and the workplace with equal authority. The story glances backward to Eliza Tibbetts, who in 1885 is planting orange trees to symbolize the family she so badly wants to start. In the novel's present, Eliza's great-granddaughter Mavy is a hippie-type involved in an improbable relationship with corporate climber Franklin, whose teenage son, Aaron, is experiencing the awakening of his sexual identity. As the story progresses, Aaron becomes a suspect in an arson at his school, and also begins to unravel a long-held family secret involving the disappearance and possible murder of his mother. Drinkard's work offers a "lyrical, devastatingly witty commentary on alienation in our increasingly irrational, violent world," the Publishers Weekly critic concluded.
In Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead, published almost thirteen years later, Drinkard focuses on the Revolutionary War years and the betrayals, misfortunes, and redemption of a Long Island family profoundly affected by the progress of the war. Booklist reviewer Jay Freeman called Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead a "curious but thoroughly enjoyable novel" constructed around amiable hemp farmer Salt, his wife, Molly, their son, James, and Molly's aged Loyalist father, Ebeneezer. Fighting between the patriots and British soldiers continues to intensify, and the Redcoats have commandeered Salt's large farmstead as a garrison. When James impulsively shoots and kills an arrogant British officer, Salt accepts responsibility for the act to save his son, but finds he must flee his home or face execution. With Salt gone, presumably forever, Molly submits to sexual advances by British general Michael Drayton; Ebeneezer sinks deeper into the throes of dementia; and James considers an offer to become an officer in the British army while secretly supporting the revolutionary cause. Salt, meanwhile, is forced into service to pirates, suffers the harsh conditions aboard a British prison ship in New York Harbor, and despairs of ever seeing his home or family again. Drinkard "has fashioned an imaginative, unique take on American history, charged with the subtleties of shifting and treacherous loyalties, and all wonderfully human," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Freeman called Drinkard "a gifted writer who effectively mixes irony, rollicking humor, and high drama" in constructing the historical world of the novel. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that Drinkard's novel stands as a historical account of the majority of early Americans who "didn't fight in the American Revolution but got caught in the crossfire all the same."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2006, Jay Freeman, review of Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead, p. 52.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2006, review of Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead, p. 54.
Publishers Weekly, April 19, 1993, review of Disobedience: A Novel, p. 49; December 12, 2005, review of Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead, p. 39.
Beatrice,http://www.beatrice.com/ (February 13, 2006), Ron Hogan, "Michael Drinkard Discovers the (Revolutionary) War at Home," review of Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (October 8, 2006), review of Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead..
Michael Drinkard Home Page,http://www.michaeldrinkard.com (September 23, 2006).*