On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, Gary and Irene’s marriage is unraveling. Alone now that the children are grown, Gary, driven by 30 years of diverted plans, is determined to build from scratch the cabin he has always wanted, believing it will recapture what once drew him to Alaska. Irene knows better. She suspects that the cabin is Gary’s first step to leaving her.
Soon they are hauling logs out to Caribou Island in good weather and in terrible storms, in sickness and in health. But setbacks begin to create chinks in Gary’s half-baked design, while Irene is stricken with mysterious headaches and troubling flashes of her tragic past. With each trip to the island their desperation escalates, and when winter comes early, the punishing desolation of the prehistoric wilderness will threaten to push Irene and Gary to the edge and end a marriage sustained by pain and rage that has been simmering for years.
A noir novel rooted in a world of profound violence and regret, Caribou Island is an exploration of marriage and exile set against the interminable restlessness of Alaska’s primal landscape.
©2011 David Vann (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Vann… renders luminous prose in this haunting tale of hardened hearts and broken dreams.” (Booklist)
I can only echo what the previous reviewer had to say. In fact, I almost gave up on this book because the characters seemed so inhospitable and unapproachable, in some ways like the setting. Somewhere in about the middle of the story, things started to get more interesting, and I could not put the book down. As the situations are set up and it becomes obvious how life has gradually stripped these people from their souls, their life force, their energies, the story comes to its only logical conclusion. In some ways this book is cautionary tale, and I, too, am still thinking about it.
I finished this audiobook a few hours ago and I'm still thinking about it. I'm an audiobook junkie (as my credit card bill will reflect) and listen everyday. This one is sticking with me, perhaps not in a good way, but I can't stop thinking about these characters. David Vann somehow has taken the most mundane situations and turned them into nail-biters. The funny thing about this book is you really don't even like most of the characters. I suspect this might be because I see myself in them and I don't like what I see. Caribou Island is a case study in the intensely difficult realm of personal relationships and he does not pull any punches. Also, Bronson Pinchot does a great job with the narration. It never pulls you away from the story, which to me is the best thing a narrator can do. Get this book. You won't be sorry. Or maybe you will be, but it won't be because of the writer.
I am a D-Bag.
By far the best book I have got from audible. Its refreshing to find an author who doesn't write to comfort the reader. There are no good guys or bad guys here just the raw side of life. Along with vivid description of Alaska and Vanns refreshing brutal style I think Vann is author to keep an eye out for in the future.
The sad story is probably more common than you would think. I got depressed listening to it. Bronson Pinchot does a great narration though.
The mother and daughter are doormats.
When Irene shoots her husband.
Anger,disappointment in the characters.
Will never listen to this again, or buy anymore of his books.
I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!
It is extraordinary, the way David Vann builds up the sense of futility and mortality in ordinary peoples lives through a series of ordinary events. By the time the story reaches its climax, the sense of oppression hanging over each character's destiny is almost unbearable.
The denoument is terrible and cathartic, and then life goes on, superficially not much different than before.
It's kind of like the drama of mortality that hangs over and ultimately destoys each of our lives, however well we try to live them.
I must admit that I chose this book based more on Bronson Pinchot than the actual story. After listening to it I still feel the same. It was a decent overall story appealing to anyone nearing their midlife crisis, but was not followed through in the details. There was a lot of explanations regarding scenery, etc. that failed to paint the whole picture. I have also grown tired of seemingly every book I seem to listen to spending too much time on sexual storylines that I feel add very little to the story. All in all I did not regret this listen, but it may have simply received higher marks due to the narrator.
Annoyed with Audible because they wouldn't print my review about Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants"
Felt very real and overpoweringly grim. The characters are different degrees of selfish complainers. Not fun but gripping. A bit too long perhaps- the abstract internal monologues (as opposed to the whining ones) get a bit disconnected. The supporting character everyone describes as a worthless loser is really the only one who seems happy.
This is the first book that I've ever had trouble finishing. The narrator did a good job with what he had to work with. The characters were the worst complainers and this was just depressing reading (or listening). I thought I'd always wanted to go and visit Alaska but I don't really want to anymore. If I were actually reading this book I would not have finished it.
I don't know which was worse - the writing or the narration. Perhaps the narrator's snarky tone was meant as irony? I would have bailed after one chapter if this had been a library book, but since I paid for it, I suffered through to the end, the suffering largely engendered by the whining and crying of the female characters. Save your money.
Parts of this book are light and entertaining, others are dark and foretell the darker side of human emotions that lurk deep within those who can't overcome their demons. I suppose I should have seen the ending coming, but didn't. The author tried to save it with a little denouement about one of the more normal (and unknowingly exploited) characters, but it failed to lift the ending for me. I enjoyed the narrator's style and straightforward approach.
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