Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dirt; David Vann

 
Title:  Dirt
Author:  David Vann
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Harper
Edition: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Setting: Sacramento, CA area
Date Completed: 3/9/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

After enjoying David Vann's last dark tale, Caribou Island, I was very anxious to read his next novel which releases next month.  Dirt, is another dark story with family dysfunction played out in high gear. 

The novel takes place in 1985, in a suburb of Sacramento, California. The dysfunctional family in this novel  consists of 22-year-old, Galen, a bulimic vegetarian, virgin, and New Age worshiper on a mission towards transcendence. Galen was not allowed to go to college because his mother, Susie-Q,  cries poverty, but yet there is talk of a family-trust, of which Susie-Q has control.  Everyday Galen and his mother have tea together, and go to visit his grandmother in a rest home. The grandmother is a woman who is in perfect health, but losing her memory.  Galen hates the women in his family, including his mother who he feels is ruining his life.  The other odd-ball family members are Aunt Helen, Suzie-Q's greedy sister who is determined  to get her fair share of what money exists in their mother's trust, and  then there is Helen's promiscuous and hateful, 17 year-old daughter Jennifer, who refers to her cousin Galen as "freakazoid", yet teases and ultimately seduces him, until he becomes obsessed by her.

One weekend they take the grandmother out of the rest home and they all head out to an old cabin near Lake Tahoe.  This is not a weekend of family bonding, in fact quite the opposite -- bit by bit things begin to spiral out of control to the point where the reader knows that there is no way this novel is going to end well.  It's really one of the stories where just when you think things can't possibly get any worst for the characters -- but they do. Despite that the story had me anxiously turning the pages.

It's not a perfect book, but I enjoyed reading it all the same, as I've always liked stories about the "dark side" of humans, and this one fits the bill. I also thought the title for this novel was perfect! RECOMMENDED

16 comments:

  1. this one sounds quite creepy! great review!

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  2. I didn't really enjoy Caribou Island very much, so I am hesitant about picking this one up, but a lot of the plot points that you highlight sound rather interesting, so I might have to think twice about it. Great review today. I do also enjoy darker stories sometimes.

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  3. Sounds like quite the dysfunctional family, but beyond clichés! Your review makes me want to pick up Dirt.

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  4. I never read Vann's first work, but I may pick up this one. Kinda reminds me of the play August: Osage County in terms of disfunctional families.

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  5. I loved both Vann's earlier books and I have an e-copy of this book which I will read at the end of the month. It sounds like another good book.

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    1. I've now read this book and had another look at your review. It's very different from mine and VERY good! It's such a dark story, that it was a bit too much for me, although I did enjoy it, too.

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    2. I've now read this book and had another look at your review. It's very different from mine and VERY good! It's such a dark story, that it was a bit too much for me, although I did enjoy it, too.

      Judith @ Leeswammes

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  6. I thought Caribou Island was absolutely breathtaking in its starkness. It was so dark though that I have been hesitant to pick up his latest. I think you conviced me that I just need to do it!

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  7. Oh, I love a good dysfunctional family!

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  8. Sounds like I'd have to be in the right mood to read this one.

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  9. I think I would enjoy this one, but would have to be in the right frame of mind for it.

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  10. This sounds very good - I like a little family drama, as long as it's someone else's family.

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  11. I read Caribou and Legend of a Suicide and as you said... Vann really explores the dark side of humans and he does it well. A bulimic vegetarian? That's a first!

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  12. Sounds different and one that really draws you in. I'll have to keep this in mind!

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  13. gee, I have not read Caribou Island yet and now I have to add this too! what to do!! lol

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  14. I like the darkish cover. It's a big draw for me. :)

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