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David Vann’s dazzling debut Legend of a Suicide was reviewed in over a 150 major global publications, won eleven prizes worldwide, was on forty “best books of the year” lists, and established its author as a literary master. Since then, Vann has delivered an exceptional body of work, receiving, among others, best foreign novel in France and Spain, a California Book Award, and the mid-career St. Francis College Literary Prize. Aquarium, his implosive new book, will take Vann to a wider audience than ever before. Twelve-year-old Caitlin lives alone with her mother—a docker at the local container port—in subsidized housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while she waits to be picked up after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to study the fish. Gazing at the creatures within the watery depths, Caitlin accesses a shimmering universe beyond her own. When she befriends an old man at the tanks one day, who seems as enamored of the fish as she, Caitlin cracks open a dark family secret and propels her once-blissful relationship with her mother toward a precipice of terrifying consequence. In crystalline, chiseled, yet graceful prose, Aquarium takes us into the heart of a brave young girl whose longing for love and capacity for forgiveness transforms the damaged people around her. Relentless and heartbreaking, primal and redemptive, Aquarium is a transporting story from one of the best American writers of our time. “Vann’s prose is as pure as a gulp of water from an Alaskan stream.”—Financial Times (London)Show more
On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, Gary and Irene's marriage is unraveling. Alone now that the children are grown, Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, is determined to build from scratch the cabin he has always wanted, believing it will recapture what once drew him to Alaska. Irene knows better. She suspects that the cabin is Gary's first step to leaving her. Soon they are hauling logs out to Caribou Island in good weather and in terrible storms, in sickness and in health. But setbacks begin to create chinks in Gary's half-baked design, while Irene is stricken with mysterious headaches and troubling flashes of her tragic past. With each trip to the island their desperation escalates, and when winter comes early, the punishing desolation of the prehistoric wilderness will threaten to push Irene and Gary to the edge and end a marriage sustained by pain and rage that has been simmering for years. A noir novel rooted in a world of profound violence and regret, Caribou Island is an exploration of marriage and exile set against the interminable restlessness of Alaska's primal landscape. Praise for Legend of a Suicide: 'The reportorial relentlessness of Vann's imagination often makes his fiction seem less written than chiseled. A small, lovely book has been written out of his large and evident pain.''New York Times Book ReviewShow more
In the fall of 1978, on the 640-acre family deer-hunting ranch on Goat Mountain in Northern California, a couple hours north of Clear Lake on a four-wheel-drive road, an eleven-year-old boy goes hunting with three men: his father, grandfather, and a friend of his father’s. Goat Mountain is a dry place of live oak and buck brush and poison oak with occasional relief from stands of ponderosa pine, white pine, and sugar pine, and even a swampy bear wallow. This is the place where all the family’s memories and stories and history are held. When the men arrive at the gate to their land, the father spots a poacher hunting illegally on his property. When he lets his eleven-year-old son take a look through the scope of his rifle, the boy pulls the trigger. The men struggle over what to do with the dead man. Though the struggle begins between the father and grandfather, it ultimately becomes a struggle between the grandfather and the boy. By the end, nothing is as it seems. An exploration of our most primal urges, what rules hold us together, and what we owe for what we’ve done, Goat Mountain is a compulsive read. “Vann offers a meditation on violence set during a deer hunt on a Northern California mountain in 1978…This flint-hard novel, in its intensity, will likely be compared to the work of Cormac McCarthy.”—Publishers WeeklyShow more
Middle-aged and deeply depressed, Jim arrives in California from Alaska and surrenders himself to the care of his brother Gary, who intends to watch over him. Swinging unpredictably from manic highs to extreme lows, Jim wanders ghost-like through the remains of his old life attempting to find meaning in his tattered relationships with family and friends. As sessions with his therapist become increasingly combative and his connections to others seem ever more tenuous, Jim is propelled forward by his thoughts, which have the potential to lead him, despairingly, to his end. Halibut on the Moon is a searing exploration of a man held captive by the dark logic of depression and struggling mightily to wrench himself free. In vivid and haunting prose, Vann offers us an aching portrait of a mind in peril, searching desperately for some hope of redemption.Show more