Michael's Reviews > Dirt

Dirt by David Vann
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's review
May 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read from May 08 to 10, 2012

What a bizarre, unsettling, strangely compelling book this is.

Incest, bulimia, abuse, dementia, (view spoiler): David Vann's aptly-titled Dirt is the feel-good novel of the year. Galen, the protagonist, is such a little shit with his faux-mysticism and his never-ending reservoir of New Age goop, it's a wonder I didn't throw this book across the room. But Vann's novel moves with such careful momentum, a creeping and irresistible dread, that I couldn't stop reading.

It is also acidly funny, and it's that confluence of the disgusting and horrific with the absurd and comical that makes it so effective. If you have any interest in "liking" or "identifying with" or "relating to" characters in a novel, you can safely skip this one; with the exception of the Alzheimer's-addled grandmother, everybody in this book is more repugnant than the other.

One is always reluctant to connect an author's personal biography with his work, but Vann has made no secrets about his traumatic upbringing; I think anyone who could conjure up this familial nightmare has some demons to work out.

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05/07/2012 page 75
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