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When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
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When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  95 reviews
A riveting, atmospheric debut novel about the bad deeds good people can be driven to.

Every fall, the men of Loyalty Island sail from the Olympic Peninsula up to the Bering Sea, to spend the winter catching king crab. Their dangerous occupation keeps food on the table but constantly threatens to leave empty seats around it.
To Cal, Alaska remains as mythical and mysterious a
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 12th 2012 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published April 1st 2012)
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Larry Hoffer
Loyalty Island in Washington State is ruled by the sea. Every fall, boats captained and crewed by Loyalty Islanders sail from the Olympic Peninsula up to the Bering Sea to spend the winter catching king crab. This is the industry that keeps the town and its businesses running, even as the threat of death at sea hangs over everyone. For Cal, whose father captains one of the boats, the sea and Alaska seem almost as mythical as the pirate stories his father used to tell him—but he also knows how th ...more
Timothy Bazzett
While first-time novelist Nick Dybek made it quite obvious that his book was meant to be a modern take on TREASURE ISLAND, for this reader it simply didn't work. Too long by at least a hundred pages, WHEN CAPTAIN FLINT WAS STILL A GOOD MAN is fatally flawed by a surplus of simply awful metaphors and similes - hands "as thick as strip steaks"; cellar walls that "smelled of sweet grease"; a radio "staticky, low, buzzing like a table saw"; a dashboard "lit in stereo-tube orange"; "each punch is a p ...more
This quietly compelling debut novel portrays a young man living in a small fishing community, a painful decision he must make, and his coming of age to very fine effect.

The men of Loyalty Island sailed north every winter, to spend the winter fishing. It was dangerous, but it was how the community had survived and thrived for generations. One man had founded that community, had seen the possibilities, and the fishing fleet had passed down through that family ever since. I’ve lived in a fishing co
The title of this book, and the setting on the pacific northwest were what drew me in.

Unfortunately, they were also what kept me reading and the bulk of my thoughts since completing the book has been of those two things, and, primarily the former. If not for those two, there is a good chance I would have strayed.

Now, dont get me wrong, it is a great title, and delivers on exactly what a title should - the essence of a novel in a single moment (think about "Delicacy" "Shroud" "We, the drowned"
Very literate and well-written, with some really great lines and very well-drawn setting, characterization, and plot. It's also very much an intense read...sort of like a thriller but with very different elements from your average thriller. I read it as often and for as long at a time as I could. Also, this is the first book in...possibly ever? that has actually caused me to gasp and cover my mouth with my hand, involuntarily. I can't tell you when that happens, it would spoil things...but wow, ...more
A boy and the sea. A moral dilemma involving fathers and sons. A fishing town in economic peril. If you believe that everything that can be written about these topics has already assumed a place in literature, you haven't read Nick Dybek's When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man.

With 14-yr.-old Cal as the pivot point in a swirling tale of both personal and mythic tention, Dybek plunges the reader into the depths for which only a tiny town set on a peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean could p
SIMON Karine
Ce roman retrace l’histoire d’une petite ville à la frontière de l’Alaska, tout au nord des Etats Unis : Loyalty Island. En fait, il s’agit d’un petit bout de terre, une presqu’île plus exactement. La vie y est rude et taciturne. Le seul gagne-pain des hommes c’est la pêche dangereuse dans les eaux glacées de l’Alaska. Tout appartient à John Gaunt, l’entreprise, les droits de pêche et autres autorisations, le matériel, les navires. Quand ce dernier décède, il laisse tout à son fils unique, qui n ...more
The book is narrated by 14 year old Cal who lives with his parents in Loyalty Island in Washington. His dad as a fisherman spends half the year in the Bearingsea. When the owner of the ships dies, his son wants to sell everyhing to asian investors. How far will Cals dad and the other people in the village go to safe their lives as they know it? The book is also about relationships between fathers and sons.

Honestly I didn't like this book that much but I didn't want it to give it only one star si
This book was a jaw dropper. I could hardly put it down. It's set in Washington State, in a town practically owned by one man. But this man dies and his heir is anything but welcome in the community. It asks the hard questions. How far would you go to preserve your way of life? What would you do if you discovered something that you weren't supposed to discover? I loved it, one of the better books of 2012.
This starts out as one of those rather dull, moody Iowa Writers' Workshop products with a lot of ridiculous poetic description. (Like, "she dyed her hair the color of hot iron." What? What is that? Fuck you.) Then almost precisely at the halfway point, the plot and the meditations on good and evil really kick in. I can't recommend it, but it really turned itself around and became worthwhile.
Renita D'Silva
Wow, what a book! After a long time, one that made me think, surprised me, made me question Cal's choices. They say there are only so many plots, but it is a credit to the author's ingenuity that this book is so intriguing, that it made me keep reading, wanting to know more, wanting to know how the book would pan out. And the writing is so beautiful, the descriptions so evocative. Loved it.
Pg 3: 'Loyalty Island... was the habit of loneliness.'
Pg 10: '...wash his soft voice over the table.'
Pg 11
Gerry LaFemina
Nick Dybek's debut novel, a coming of age story in which a young boy must come to terms with the tough choices both his parents have made by making some of his own, is filled with beautiful sentences, enchanting details, and compelling characters. In remembering the stories his father made up about Treasure Island's Captain Flint before he became a pirate, the novel's narrator learns about how easily we lose innocence and the slow process by which we become not evil, or even bad necessarily, but ...more
Shirley Freeman
Though the title and book description didn't attract me, I wanted to read this because a. the author grew up in Kalamazoo b. he attended the same little school as my children and c. the book got a decent review in The Economist magazine. And I really liked it! The first chapter drew me in immediately and I finished the book in a day. Of course, my husband was out of town but still... Nick Dybeck is well on his way to a career as a novelist. The story takes place in an isolated fishing community ...more
{ I won this as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. }

DNF. I'm about 2/3 through, but I just can't force myself to read any more because I don't care about the characters. There's a serious situation going on right now involving most of the major characters where I know I should be thinking, "Wow, what's going to happen to these people??" But instead I'm thinking, "Ugh... I guess I should probably try to read a little more of this." I just don't feel connected to the characters. I have no interest
Becca (Pretty Little Memoirs)
When Captain Flint Was Still A Good Man by Nick Dybek
Published by: Corsair
Available: Now in Paperback/Hardback £12.99

When Captain Flint Was Still A Good Man had a brilliant concept, and although it wasn’t my usual genre choice, I am always taken by a book that manages to still engross me in a story-world that I could learn to love. One of my favourite things about Nick Dybek’s book was the dialogue between the children, that came across so adult that it showed growth in the characters across th
Jaclyn Michelle

This evening, the conclusion of Nick Dybek's debut novel left me on the verge of doing two things that I seldom do:
1) missing my subway stop
2) crying in public

I say "on the verge of" because, though teary-eyed, I was narrowly able to squeeze out of the closing doors. Damn you, Dybek!

Point being: When Captain Flint Was Still A Good Man was THAT captivating a read. Especially the last half. Straphangers, you have been warned.

Dybek's story follows fifteen-yea
Cleverly complex and deeply fascinating, the intoxicating intensity of this well-drawn thriller is simply stunning.

Never have I been so moved by such powerful prose and an unforgettable tale, which remains lingering within your mind for a long time afterward. Set within a close-knit fishing community on Loyalty Island, the occupants depend solely on a handful of boats and one Captain who sets sail every winter across the Ocean. With sudden and unexpected tragedy comes turmoil, as one man brave
I received an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

This is a story told by 14-year-old Cal, who lives with his parents in the fishing community of Loyalty Island, Washington. I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age story and I was not disappointed by this one. I finally stayed up late last night to finish it, eager to find out how it ends.

It's a poignant and rather sad story about a difficult life and difficult decisions. Cal's father is away on the fishing boat for half
To fifteen-year-old Cal, his father is like a stranger. The family resides on Loyalty Island, a costal Washington community that relies on the Alaskan king-crabbing season to provide economic stability. Each winter, Cal and his mother are left alone while Henry braves the harsh conditions of the Bering Sea. Despite Henry's well intentions, Cal feels a disconnect with his father. His mother, who moved to the island after falling in love with Henry and becoming pregnant with Cal, spends countless ...more
Thinking of the people you know the best, you think you can estimate what they'll do, what they think, who they are by the decisions they've made in the past. They might be impatient, indecisive, peacemaking, passive, aggressive, impetuous, good or just plain mischievous. But the real questions is this: can you really ever know for sure what someone might or might not become as a reflection of their choices and their desires?

With masterful storytelling and paced gravity, Nick Dybek's When Captai
So, I liked it. I guess. The end was definitely better than the beginning: before page 136, I really had to push myself to stay engaged. When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man is the story of a boy living in a northwestern fishing village, whose father spends most of every year at sea fishing off the coast of Alaska, and whose mother crumbles with each season she spends alone. The book is narrated, essentially, by the boy as a young man, who is still coming to grips with the events of one parti ...more
14 year-old Carl lives in Loyalty Island, a small fisher's village in Washington. His father, as mostly all men in town, works on the Gaunt fleet and spends more time on the water than at home with his family.

When John Gaunt passes away and his son Richard inherits the company, the town's people are suddenly reliant on a young man who seems to have no interest in keeping the family legacy going and may even sell the fleet, putting all their jobs at risk. Carl experiences first hand how far the
Andrew Jacobson
Originally posted at

When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek (New York: Riverhead, 2012. 320 pp)

A first time author, Nick Dybek is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he was the recipient of a Hopwood Award for Short Fiction, and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where he won a Maytag Fellowship and a Michener-Copernicus Award. He has taught writing at Western Washington University and Augustana College.

Before we get to the meat of the review, let me
Der alte John Gaunt war zu früh gestorben, hieß es unter den Fischern auf Loyalty Island, einer fiktiven Landzunge der Olympic-Halbinsel. John gehörte alles im Ort, die Fischkutter, die Ausrüstung, das Kühlhaus und die Fanglizenzen für Riesenkrabben, die die Männer in den Wintermonaten vor Alaska fingen. Mit einem guten Fang an Riesenkrabben konnte ein Mann sehr viel Geld verdienen - und setzte dafür sein Leben ein. Der Winter stand vor der Tür und John hatte keinen Nachfolger. Sein Sohn Richard ...more
Lynne Perednia
The loss of innocence is a common theme of fiction. It's not unusual for a young man or woman, or even a middle-aged one, to look back on the year that things changed. The year they grew up. For young Cal, it is the winter he discovers what it may have been like for the good captain in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island when he decided to become a pirate. And because of what he learns and what happens, he leaves Loyalty Island in Nick Dybek's novel of innocence lost, believing he can never ...more
I loved the concept, loved the setting, and for the most part loved the writing, but there were a few standout flaws that prevent me from giving "When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man" a higher rating. I've never been a 14-year-old boy, but the dialogue between Cal and Jamie was so jarringly adult at times that it was hard to imagine the lines being spoken by anyone under 30. Second, many of the plot points were a little too obvious. Maybe it's because Cal brings up the childhood memory allude ...more
I wanted to like this more than I actually did. On the surface When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man has everything I like: boats, tense family situations, nostalgia, violence, etc. But, somehow, the sum wasn't equal to the parts, or, rather, it was exactly equal to the parts. Cal longs to follow in his father's footsteps and head to Alaska with the crab boats. He's a fisherman's son in a fisherman's town, after all, but his mother - an unhappy California transplant - is dead set against it, a ...more
I saw a review for this as a well-written first novel... While it is well-written and it is a first novel, it did not really appeal to me on the whole. Cal is raised on the Olympic peninsula in Washington on an island that is not really an island. The whole town is a fishing town, living by the schedule of the sea, the tides, and the fish/crab/etc. Most of the men end up spending months away from their families as the boats and fish take them to the waters near Alaska and the canneries there. Ca ...more
Reseña completa del libro:

Un libro del que esperaba mucho y en el que he encontrado un problema: la trama principal no me ha interesado mucho, ya que se repetía demasiado y no lograba captar mi atención. Han sido las tramas secundarias lo que más me ha gustado.

El autor escribe bastante bien y podría haber sido una historia mucho mejor en mi opinión. La crítica lo ha puesto por las nubes, aún así a mí no ha llegado a convencerme.
I picked up this book because I enjoy local (Pacific Northwest) authors and settings. For the first few chapters, I thought it was going to be heavily influenced by the currently popular TV docudrama "Deadliest Catch" about the perils of crab fishing in Alaskan waters. But it has little to do with actual fishing other than describing the hard life and economic uncertainty of the men who leave their Washington State fishing port to spend the fall and winter on the ocean. It is a literary work in ...more
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