Cold. Almost everything about David Vann’s debut novel, Caribou Island, is cold. The setting in Alaska presents the climatic cold landscape that Vann describes in language that’s often poetic and always visual. The marital relationship of the protagonists Irene and Gary has evolved in bitterness, disappointment and disconnectedness to something far beyond frigid. Their children are also in relationships that are rooted in selfishness and maintained by expectations that are likely to be unmet. The bleakness of the situation provides a backdrop for some fine writing that presents aspects of human behavior that come alive in the circumstances and life experiences of these characters. Readers willing to give a debut novelist a chance will find talent on these pages. Perhaps because I read this novel during a blizzard, I can still feel the chill of the story. Those readers susceptible to personal immersion into fiction may want to watch for signs depression and gloom after spending time with these characters in this setting.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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