by David Vann
Essentially the debut novel from literary powerhouse David Vann, Caribou Island is the tale of a crumbling marriage, blighted by disappointment, pretensions and a pounding headache. Caribou Island also features a lot of fish.
In Alaska, Gary is trying to achieve the ultimate rugged man dream by building himself a cabin from scratch. He is pretending that this will save his marriage. His war of attrition with his wife Irene is causing her pain and illness, and as they haul out logs to Caribou Island, come rain or high water, come sickness or health, the damp rot in their marriage is juxtaposed with the damp ill-thought out plans for their marriage-saving cabin.
Meanwhile their children are living in their own make-believe idylls. Daughter Rhoda is happy to play plain-Jane wife to Jim, who has other ideas for himself, involving sexy travelling Monique. Mark must fish salmon to pay for the hedonism that keeps him from being too responsible.
As the cabin grows, so do the frustrations and disappointments of the family members, leading to a devastating state of affairs. Featuring some beautiful descriptions of love and marriage not going together like a horse and carriage and a few too many descriptions of fishing, this debut from David Vann is a fierce follow-up to his brutal collection of short stories, Legend of a Suicide. 2011 is off in fine form.
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