May 31, 12
Read from May 23 to 29, 2012
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, and with good cause. Fishing is a dangerous pursuit. When John Gaunt,the town's richest man and owner of the entire fleet, dies the fate of the town rests with his shiftless son, Richard. What comes after is a kind of crucible for young Cal. A good read overall, but I had trouble fixing Cal's age throughout (Dybek does give it a couple of times), and while the situation was dramatic and the stakes were ratcheted up high I just found myself shrugging most of the time. Dybeck's prose is flawless, but it's not inspired. There were too many places where the prose felt manufactured rather than transcendental. Maybe that's vague and pretentious. I mean to say it felt like a work that did all the right things, but failed to move me. I'd read his next one, though.