Disobedience by Michael Drinkard

This book was recommended to me by a friend on Instagram and the description looked good so I picked it up, and once I started reading it I was immediately hooked.

The book was published in 1993 and it’s so right-in-my-wheelhouse that I am still sorta shocked I had not heard of it or come across it before 2022. It’s a madcap comedy, it’s a multi-generational saga, it’s a Gen X snapshot, it’s a history of orange groves in Southern California, and much more. At various points it reminded me of Girl with Curious Hair, Less than Zero, Mark Leyner, Pynchon, DeLillo, and many others. Also, for a book that came out in 1993, it’s remarkably prescient in its depiction of near-future technologies.

Drinkard is perhaps best known as the spouse of writer Jill Eisenstadt, whose novel From Rockaway is a stone-cold classic of 20th Century American fiction. But Drinkard should be better known and now I’m off to read his other two novels.

For anyone just picking up Disobedience, I’ve created a little cheat sheet to the cast of characters below. [Warning: I’m not posting any of the true spoilers here but there are some spoiler-ish details below, but I don’t think any of it will impact your enjoyment of the book.]


Luther Tibbets, Eliza Tibbets – earliest timeline, they plant the original orange trees and struggle to have children

Franklin Wells – “contemporary” storyline – he is the father of Aaron and Billybones

Mavy Tibbets – mother of Aaron and Billybones, granddaughter of Eliza and Luther Tibbets

Bernie Tibbets – father of Mavy, author of Ripcord

Aaron Wells – parents are Franklin and Mavy, 14 years old in the latest “near-future” timeline

Billybones Wells – youngest child of Franklin and Mavy

Linda Delgado – subject of Aaron’s desire

Jimbo – classmate of Aaron

Brainy – classmate of Aaron

Prudey – classmate of Aaron

Serena & Manny Delgado – Linda’s parents

Caroline – Franklin’s girlfriend after Mavy, only 5 years older than Aaron

John – tomato farmer interested in Mavy

Grandma Goretex – Mrs. Wells – Franklin’s mother, former Vegas showgirl

President McKinley – he actually was in California in 1901

Granny Fanny – born 1901, Mavy’s grandma

Victoria – Franklin’s boss at Solvtex

Stoddard Manville – Franklin’s rival at Solvtex (Franklin mockingly calls him ArManiville as a play on “Armani”-ville)

Annie – Mavy’s therapist


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