On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, a marriage is unraveling. Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, and Irene, haunted by a tragedy in her past, are trying to rebuild their life together. Following the outline of Gary's old dream, they're hauling logs to Caribou Island in good weather and in terrible storms, in sickness and in he...more
Alaska felt like the end of the world, a place of exile. Those who couldn’t fit anywhere else came here, and...more
Alaska’s beauty has a brutal edge. From a distance it appears calm and pristine, but the reality of living there can be harsh, unyielding. Chaos is part of its nature, a reflection of the chaos in the couple’s marriage, their lives, while at the same time adding to their chaos. A perfect storm gaining momentum.
Gary pictures himself as an ancient Viking; forever bonded to this wilderness, thriving, every attempt at nature to knock him down is countered with his conquering bellows. As part of his ...more
Brutally raw.....and that's not just an adequate descriptive for the glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. Rugged terrain both in life and in the treacherous environment that surrounds both the body and the soul.
Gary and Irene seem to gravitate toward the light of a star that may not be their own. Gary continuously fights against the demons within that have tagged alongside him for all of his adult life. He casts his fate like coins thrown randomly ...more
“What Gary wanted was the imagined village, the return to an idyllic time when he could have a role, a set task, as blacksmith or baker or singer of a people’s stories.”
Gary’s a miserable son-of-a-gun, but he has his up moments, and if I were doing an armchair diagnosis, I’d be inclined toward bi-polar, manic-depressive, or whatever the current terminology is. Irene has stuck with him, this “champion of regret . . . The regret a living thing, a pool inside him.”
They’re in Alaska, building a ...more
Aside from Rhoda, the gentle hearted daughter, and a sweet side character named Carl, we see shards of th ...more
The backdrop is the great and terrible beauty of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, where Nature’s threat looms in every scene. The opening pages show Irene and Gary, a couple in their mid-fifties, standing apart as their thirty-year marriage unravels between them while they battle a storm from ...more
This is a story of Gary and Irene, not of an island. The island exists physically and figuratively, but this is a story of them. Their love, envy and hatred of one another. His failings and her failure to realize it too quickly.
They've been together for thirty years, both in their middle 50's and retired; they have 2 children, one that loves and one that ignores. The men in the family have always done what they ...more
While reading this story i am thinking of the story Revolutionary Road written by Richard Yates a tale of marriage and the destructive behaviors of the human heart displayed in that story. If you have seen the movie it is probably even more engrained in your mind the images of despair and the path the couple found themselves down. The pursuit of happiness its funny how we try to attain h ...more
The answer, I’m pleased to say, is yes.
Beware: Caribou Island is NOT for readers who are looking for “likeable characters” and Hollywood-type endings. It ventures into dark emotional territory that’s not always comfortable to reside in – the same ...more
Vann's imagination is just so bleak, so depressing, he should see a doctor. He ob ...more
The novel’s gory final tableau may have reminded me o ...more
I remember loving another book a while back narrated by Bronson Pinchot (yes, that Bronson Pinchot), so when I came across this one I borrowed it immediately. A rather depressing book set in Alaska, it asks the question Can this marriage be saved? and then smacks you in the face with the answer.
Slow moving and very sad, but I liked the setting.
As usual, Pinchot delivered in his unique style, full of emotion and credibility.
The characters are largely unlikeable, the relationships are thoroughly dysfunctional, and the style keeps the reader (or at least me) at arm's length throughout. Part of this distance is due to David Vann's Cormac McCarthy-esque refusal to use quotation marks to help mark characters' speech. This doesn't make it difficult to tell who is speaking, but it does diminish the sense of the characters as active participants in the story. Because the te ...more
The sentence above, uttered by one of its characters, could summarize David Vann’s elegantly bleak debut novel, Caribou Island. (His previously published work, Legend of a Suicide, was a critically acclaimed collection of short stories.)
From the moment we meet Ire ...more
Gary and Irene have lived in Alaska for 30 years. Drifting there by accident, somehow staying. Gary is a restless sort, he has many grand p ...more
David Vann is fast becoming one of my favourite writers.
This is a story of Gary and Irene, a married couple, whose relationship has gone rancid. The couple struggles to get along with each other through the humdrum of their day-to-day activities, but they have l ...more
I was surfing goodreads and I did that thing where you see an ad while you are clicking to the next page but I just saw a name. I clicked back but I got a different ad. So I searched, was david vann who I thought he was? he was and he had a new book.
WHAT THE FUCK WAS I DOING THAT WAS SO IMPORTANT I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THIS?
So I immediately took my self down to the store with my poor impulse control and bought it (and the top ...more
"Hollows inside him, only hollows. No substance. She had somehow blown the center out of him. He could see her face, when they had first gotten together, when it seemed that she loved him. Her smile a little hesitant, even, as if she were nervous too."
Very simple, but not high-class wri ...more
I was unprepared for the heavy, depressive feel of the story and, thinking back on it, I should have been prepared. The cover is dark, the setting is not known for it's warmth (thus inspiring feelings of joy), and, although I felt my mood descending with each page read, I couldn't tear my eyes or my thoughts away from the train-wreck of a story the people in Caribou Island were living.
I foun ...more