Diane's Reviews > Dirt

Dirt by David Vann
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's review
Mar 11, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 07 to 09, 2012

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!

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