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3.1  ·  Rating Details ·  1,098 Ratings  ·  218 Reviews
The year is 1985, and twenty-two-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house surrounded by a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento. He doesn't know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother, losing her memory, has been shipped off to a nursing home. Galen and his mother survive on the family's trust ...more
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2012)
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2014 Impac Dublin Literary Award Nominees
81st out of 140 books — 39 voters
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47th out of 122 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 06, 2012 Walt rated it liked it
DIRT, by David Vann, made me want to take a shower and an antidepressant. And I'm not a depressive. I needed to wash it off and purge it from my system, physically and mentally. For me, it was difficult to get through and to be done with.

It is that bad.

And you know what? I think it was intended to be so. In that respect it was a success.

Why do I think such terrible things about DIRT?

Because its title characterizes it. It is about people who are dirty, filthy, and squalid. Its story is soiled,
Aug 09, 2015 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Everything shrank in the glare. The roof of the shed maybe a foot or two lower, the boards thinner by half an inch. The fig tree more squat to the ground, not as tall as before. The furrows shallow. Galen didn’t know what that meant, that everything grew as the light faded and shrank again in the day”

Dirt is the second novel by American author, David Vann.
1 young man, 22 years old (going on sixteen), the favoured grandchild, a virgin, trying unsuccessfully to tr
Apr 03, 2013 Michael rated it liked it
Galen is a 22 year old who is still living with his emotionally dependant mother instead of going off to college or living life. He has no idea who his father is. His grandmother is losing her memory which is leaving his mother and him living on the family trust, old money which his aunt Helen wants. With a keen interest in Buddhism, Galen wishes to free himself from the corporeal but he is trapped by his dysfunctional family and his fleshly desires weigh him down.

Dirt is not an easy book to rea
Jun 14, 2012 Patty rated it it was amazing
David Vann

My "in a nutshell" summary...

Galen, his mother, his cousin, his aunt and his forgetful grandmother lead a very dysfunctional life. Galen is a total mess and everyone else is fantastically weird. His cousin and aunt are just plain mean.

My thoughts after reading...

Yikes! Gulp! What a delicious dysfunctional mess within this amazing book. Bizarre characters doing the most amazingly shocking things! Galen is so pathetically weird. The only thing besides Kahlil Gibran that he thinks a
Jun 21, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
Pretty disappointing after Vann's amazing debut and second novel. This is, I figured, meant to be a sort of southern gothic, a . . . comedy, I guess, which, maybe that works for some folks, but it didn't work for me. I'm not really sure what or who we're supposed to root for here. There are five total characters, all but one of whom are ridiculously fucked up (the fifth is a seventy-year-old woman with no memory), and who scream at each other throughout the entire novel. Galen, our ...more
Feb 29, 2012 Jill rated it liked it
David Vann isn’t afraid to cross over to the dark side, as he’s amply displayed to readers in his two magnificent previous books: Legend of a Suicide and Caribou Island.

In Dirt, he pushes the envelope even further by introducing a nightmarish family: the main character, 22-year-old manic-prone Galen who strives for transcendence, Susie-Q, his passive-aggressive and selfish mother, his kittenish and sexually-tantalizing cousin Jennifer, his greedy aunt Helen, and his dementia-afflicted grandmothe
It's difficult to argue with the resume of this author--impressive would be an understatement. ABC review compares David Vann to Melville, Faulkner, and McCathy. Admittedly, I can see the rationale behind the claim. If you like past works by those authors, it'd be plausible to assume you'll equally enjoy Dirt. The prose are more grounded than Melville and meander like Hemingway (without the purple), but have a similar grit and the southern Gothic edge of McCathy. If you're looking for a punchy ...more
Simay Yildiz
Bu yazının orijinali CAN'la Bir Sene'de yayınlandı.

"Pislik," İngilizcesi ve kitabın orijinal ismi Dirt gibi kullanımına göre farklı şeyleri tasvir etmek için kullanılabilen bir kelime. Kitabın anlatıcısı ve ana karakteri Galen da Samsara ile kafayı bozmuş, 20 küsür yaşında olmasına rağmen pek bir şey görüp geçirmemiş, evire çevire Nirvana'ya erişimine yardım edeceğini düşündüğü kitapları okuyan, ilk baştan da sevimsiz olsa da sonradan iyice "pislik" olan bir karakter. Kitabın en büyük pisliği oy
switterbug (Betsey)
Mar 14, 2012 switterbug (Betsey) rated it really liked it
It’s 1985 in sunny California, in the walnut orchards near Sacramento. Galen, who is twenty-two, has the emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old (if that). He aspires to be a mystic, with his starvation diet, meditation, asceticism, and focus on ridding himself of attachments. He lives with his mother, who has plenty of emotional issues; the walnut doesn’t fall too far from the tree. His grandmother has mid-stage dementia and lives in a nursing home. He is sexually obsessed with his ...more
Mar 11, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it
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-
Jun 05, 2012 Jodie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
If you have read and loved Caribou Island you probably won't love this as much. But that hardly seems fair, Caribou sits on my all time favourite list, for me it is one of those books that I measure all other books against, not just David Vann ones.

This book is dark, gritty and haunting. Galen (the protagonist) is one weird dude. So is his mother. So is his Aunt. So is his cousin. He lives at home with his mum and they survive off a trust fund from Galens grandparents, who are also weirdo's. Gr
Oct 08, 2016 Karina rated it liked it
3.0 to 3.5 stars (I think).

I'm really going to need a while for this one.

A few other reviewers had described this as ugly and/or sordid, but I did not pay much attention. I tend to think of myself as a pretty toughened reader. I assumed that perhaps Dirt would be a little unsettling, but not to much out of the ordinary. I may have overestimated my fortitude or underestimated the repulsiveness of David Vann's imagination. I guess there's just this visceral quality to Vann's writing and to this bo
Sherri Huntley
Nov 15, 2012 Sherri Huntley rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from Goodreads and it was an interesting read. The novel is about a dysfunctional family including 22 year old Galen, whose mother did not allow to go to college because of the expense. Galen's mother is ultra controling. His mother sends his grandmother to a rest home and one weekend Galen, his mom and gradmother all go to a cabin where things turn bad. It really is a darkside of humanity novel, which I enjoy. The problem is that the charecters just don't inspire a lot of ...more
Raül De Tena
Jun 04, 2013 Raül De Tena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Deberíamos haberlo visto venir cuando David Vann irrumpió en la escena literaria internacional con “Sukkwan Island” (un libro en el que el autor exorcizaba los fantasmas del truculento suicidio de su padre mientras ambos estaban atrapados en una isla a la que habían ido a pasar el invierno para poner a prueba sus propias dotes de superviviencia) y cuando decidió alargar el chicle del éxito gracias a “Caribou Island” (donde volvía a chapotear en truculencia a la hora de abordar la fase final de ...more
Rebecca Foster
(2.5) I frequently group David Vann in with a set of authors continuing the 1980s literary tradition of “dirty realism.” Here he makes this association undeniably obvious; he positively revels in the dirt of everyday life. Throughout the novel dirt is both a metaphor and a literal reality, coating the characters and their possessions, tainting their lofty thoughts, reminding them that they and all their ambitions are but dust.

Galen and his mother live on the old family walnut orchard in northern
It's difficult to rate this book: the writing is stellar, but two stars and "it was okay" is all the enthusiasm I can muster for the story itself. That's the trouble with a rating system based on how much I like something. I came away from this novel feeling covered in dirt myself, not a feeling that engenders the warm fuzzies I associate with a three-star rating, nor the cheerful joy of a four-star rating, nor the stunned awe of a five-star rating. Two stars. Yep, that's about it.

Maybe it's bec
Jun 05, 2012 Zahwil rated it really liked it
The entertainment value is high and the writing very good. You can read the whole book easily over a weekend as I did.

There is a lot of violence in the book, both self-inflicted and otherwise, and also illicit sexual encounters between the protagonist, Galen, and his cousin, Jennifer. Reading about these encounters made me feel that I was reading an unusuually well written erotic story designed to appeal to those who are excited by taboo sex and female dominance.

The main thrust of the novel, th
Apr 22, 2014 Owen rated it really liked it
Shelves: notable
This book is getting a lot of hate from all directions and some of it is understandable. However, I really liked Vann's writing and even though the story itself was lacking and had some flat parts, overall, I still enjoyed reading it. Many people are disgusted by the subject matter (the title isn't referring to actual dirt, after all). For instance, the main character (Galen) has sex with a girl who is not only underage, but also his cousin. And Vann goes into a lot of detail in these scenes.

Apr 26, 2012 JudithAnn rated it really liked it
This was a very different book from Vann’s previous ones. On the other hand, there are quite a few correspondences: family relationships play a large role, isolated living, violence or cruelty is used when deemed necessary.

Galen is 22 years old and apparently waiting to go to college, but he needs money for that, which he doesn’t have. He and his mother live in poor circumstances although it seems that his grandmother may have some money. So, at 22, Galen doesn’t do a great deal with his life, e
Mar 10, 2014 Jean rated it really liked it
En Tierra, estamos todo el tiempo desde el punto de vista de Galen, un joven obsesionado con el new age y las enseñanzas de Siddartha.

Galen busca la iluminación, la comprensión del universo, quiere caminar sobre el agua y leer lo que ella le dice, tal como hizo alguna vez Buda.

Galen vive en el ambiente hostil que han forjado su madre, su tía y su prima Jennifer, una joven bellísima quien lo lleva al borde de la locura con su permanente promesa de sexo incestuoso.

Galen ama a su abuela y le mol
Dec 14, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: usa
I really don’t know what to make of this novel. I really admired Legend of a Suicide (see my review) so I picked this one up straight away when I saw it at the library, and I took it with me when I had some time to spend in waiting rooms this week.

But I didn’t like it much. It’s a story of a young man filled with hate and I was not really in the mood for that, not in the light of events this week in America with yet another mass shooting by a hate-filled young man.

Galen, at the age of 22, is sti
Jul 09, 2012 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read Legend of a Suicide or Caribou Island, you were probably waiting in anticipation for Dirt. I certainly was. I had to wait for Tim to finish, who would only say that it was dirty and shocking.

I was so disappointed. I don't mind dirty and I like shocking. This book did both (in fact the sex scenes were realistic and oddly beautifully written). My problem was the story and the characters. Quie major issues then.

I had hoped to meet another Rhoda, or Ron, or Jim. All the secondary ch
Wow...this book is an ugly, dirty, look at humanity at it's bases form. It made me want to take a shower afterwards. Galen thinks he is on a mission to find the highest level of the mind philosophically and his mother, aunt and cousin are basically crazy. There are so many levels of crazy in this book that it's hard to even describe. I have tagged it religion because Galen thinks his acts are based on religion and philosophy but he is extremely mentally ill as is the rest of his family. I know ...more
4ZZZ Book Club
Sep 13, 2012 4ZZZ Book Club rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, interviews
David Vann's new book, Dirt, is an uncomfortable novel looking at a painfully dysfunctional protagonist and his broken family. Despite that, it’s an incredibly compelling read and you’ll be drawn in until the very last page.

Sky interviewed David Vann about the way the author draws inspiration from his own difficult upbringing, his stream-of-consciousness writing method, the selfishness inherent in the New Age movement, and the impact of domestic violence and brutality. This interview includes Da
Sep 26, 2014 Miranda rated it it was amazing
Almost unbearable, painfully beautiful, horrifically funny. A Euripidean tragedy (you can almost hear the chorus) under a scorching, flattening searchlight of a sun. That a pivotal scene is no less ominous because it's set to the sound track of the Cars song "Heartbeat City" (I'll never hear that song the same again) says something about Dirt's power (and sense of humor). One of the best books I read all year, but I might not have made it through if it wasn't my job, though perhaps I couldn't ...more
Oct 10, 2013 Sunsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hörbücher
Verstörend dramatisch. Wenn man sich darauf eingelassen und ca. die erste Hälfte des Buches gehört hat, nimmt das Buch Fahrt auf und es wird zunehmend klarer, wohin der Autor mit uns will...

07/10 Punkte. Meine Rezension könnt ihr ihr lesen: .
Jul 03, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: George Clarke
A shocking read.Family life, eh!
Reem Nasser
Oct 07, 2013 Reem Nasser rated it did not like it
This book is
Dont even think about reading it...
Rob Weedon
May 29, 2012 Rob Weedon rated it really liked it
solipsism central, a great dizzying descent into madness and a lesson for mothers and sons
Nov 06, 2013 Danielle rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
David Vann's third fiction novel Dirt is not for the faint of heart or for those who have fragile sensibilities. None of the characters are likable, they all act in erratic and self-serving ways, and the thoughts that we are privy to as readers are often bizarre. There are gross-out moments, what-the-hell-is-happening moments and moments where you realize that the story's situation is about to go from bad to worse.

Most importantly, there are no boring moments.

I enjoyed this book, and I feel tha
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Türk Kitap Kurtları: Kitap Tavsiye Buyrun! 1 70 Mar 26, 2014 01:18PM  
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Published in 19 languages, David Vann’s internationally-bestselling books have won 15 prizes, including best foreign novel in France and Spain and, most recently, the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize 2013, and appeared on 70 Best Books of the Year lists in a dozen countries. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Outside, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, The Sunday Times, The ...more
More about David Vann...

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“The point was the struggle. The earth thickened here so that he would labor. The shovel felt heavy so that he could feel he was doing something. The world provided resistance, and as we struggled through, we learned our final lessons.” 1 likes
“This table felt extremely dangerous. He understood now that what held his family together was violence.” 1 likes
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