Caribou Island by David Vann

Title: Caribou Island

Author: David Vann

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis)  On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, a marriage is unraveling. Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, and Irene, haunted by a tragedy in her past, are trying to rebuild their life together. Following the outline of Gary’s old dream, the …more

My thoughts: The writing is great but this novel is so bleak – the setting, the weather, the lives of the characters. Just bleak.

Anyway, in a small town in Alaska, there’s a woman who’s dissatisfied with her life. She has unexplained head pain but doesn’t feel her family believes her and medical tests show nothing. She’s unable to sleep and no amount of medication eases the pain.

Her husband has a goal, a dream, to build a cabin on Caribou Island and live there permanently. He’s driven to see it through and his wife, who doesn’t share his dream, will not be a reason to stop. They refuse to see the other’s point of view which makes them bitter and angry people.  Their adult daughter seems to be on a path to repeat her mother’s mistakes.  Their son lives nearby but prefers to ignore his family, work his day jobs and get high at night.  David Vann’s story builds slowly but solidly to a dramatic conclusion.

I don’t want to give any more away.  If this piques your interest I think Caribou Island might be the book for you.

Recommend? Yes.  Though I found the novel quite dark, Vann’s sharp and evocative writing kept me reading almost nonstop. I will definitely look for more of his books.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: Harper via Goodreads First Reads