Five words from the blurb: Alaska, marriage, unravelling, storms, life
Legend of a Suicide was one of my favourite reads in 2009 and so I was excited about trying David Vann’s latest book. Unfortunately, despite being equally well written, it didn’t have the same impact on me.
Caribou Island is set on a remote Alaskan island and follows one family as they battle with relationship problems and illness.
Gary looked out of the window at the lake through the trees, at the salmon, knew he should feel lucky, but felt nothing except a mild, background terror of how he’d get through the day, how he’d fill the hours. He’d felt this all his adult life, especially in the evenings, especially when he was single. After the sun went down, the stretch of time until when he could sleep seemed an impossible expanse, something looming, a void that couldn’t be crossed.
The book is dark and atmospheric throughout, with fantastic descriptions of the harsh Alaskan landscape.
The pace was much faster than Legend of a Suicide and I flew through it in a couple of sittings.
The problem was that the plot was depressing. Not in the wonderfully original, powerful way of his first book, but in the mundane, soul-sapping way that things happen in real life. There were a few fantastic scenes sprinkled through the novel, but most of it just left me feeling sad. I longed for something to lift the mood, or to shock me, but unfortunately the book continued on its melancholy journey.
Recommended to those who enjoy books that investigate the dynamics of family relationships, but it should be avoided by anyone looking for a happy read.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
David Vann writes with honesty and sharp-edged realism that is hard to ignore. Caribousmon
It’s a bleak book, yes, but also a beautiful one. Follow the Thread
This isn’t a novel to pick up if you are looking for a happy ending; instead, if you are looking for the beauty in despair and destruction, this is a great book to pick up. S. Krishna’s Books