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Caribou Island


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A great American novel from the new Cormac McCarthy

About the Author

David Vann was born on Adak Island, Alaska, and spent his childhood in Ketchikan. His first work of fiction, Legend of a Suicide, was originally published in 2008. It won seven literary awards and was selected for twenty-five 'Books of the Year' lists including the New York Times.


Vann, author of the prize-winning story collection Legend of a Suicide, turns in an impressive debut novel that examines an odd mix of people near Skilak Lake, AK. Irene and Gary have not been compatible for decades, yet they are building a log cabin on deserted Caribou Island. Gary is no carpenter, so the cabin evolves into a primitive, lopsided structure, just one of his many failed ventures during their married life. Irene and Gary's daughter, Rhoda, lives on the mainland, longs for a home and husband, and doesn't know that her dentist boyfriend has a spoiled, demanding girlfriend on the side. Rhoda's brother, Mark, works on the fishing boat Slippery Jay but has no strong purpose in life. Frantic with worry about her parents, isolated on the island, Rhoda sets out across the lake before the first snowfall. On the way, she vows to put a stop to her parents' foolishness, bring them home, and marry Jim. It will be a new beginning. Sadly, Irene has already made a decision that will change their lives forever. Verdict Vann delivers an authentic story, even lyrical at times. He is a writer headed for notable accomplishments. Enthusiastically recommended.-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gets to places other novels can't touch * New York Times *
An extravagantly gifted and moving writer * Sunday Times *
Wields an unforgiving, elemental power that is breathtaking to read * Independent on Sunday *
Beautiful, richly atmospheric . . . deserves to consolidate Vann's position among America's literary high flyers * Evening Standard *
The prose here frequently achieves a quite astonishing beauty * Daily Telegraph *
A novel of fine artistry and stark emotional truth - full of our darkest currents and faintest sounds * The Times *
A writer to read and reread * Economist *
Beautifully written and bitterly funny * Financial Times *
Caribou Island is a scant 300 pages, and written in prose as pellucid as the rivers he used to fish as a boy. But it says so much: about men and women, about marriage, about the desperate gap between who we want to be and who we are * Observer *

People haunted by their own failures and lost dreams drive Vann's earnest but uneven first novel, which opens with Irene, an ailing middle-aged Alaskan woman, telling her grown daughter, Rhoda, about coming home and finding her mother "hanging from the rafters" one day when she was 10 years old. Irene also tells Rhoda that she believes her husband, Gary, wants to leave her. Gary, "a champion of regret," wanted to be an academic, but ekes out a living fishing and building boats while planning a self-imposed exile with Irene on an island in Alaska's Skilak Lake, where he's building a crude log cabin. Rhoda envisions marital bliss with her boyfriend, Jim, a philandering, selfish dentist. Their internal monologues rage with ideas and desires that read like authorial conceits, not the thoughts of real people. The only true character is Alaska itself, and Vann, author of the story collection Legend of a Suicide, is at his best depicting the harsh, rugged landscape of the Alaskan wilderness. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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