Aren’t you all just incredibly clever! Just in time for the annual October celebration of matters dark and dreadful, you have chosen to read Dirt: A Novel by David Vann, 272 pages, 2012. So pick your “spirit” and delve deep into the murky human abyss.
“The year is 1985, and twenty-two-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house surrounded by a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento. He doesn't know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother, losing her memory, has been shipped off to a nursing home. Galen and his mother survive on the family's trust fund—old money that his aunt, Helen, and seventeen-year-old cousin, Jennifer, are determined to get their hands on.” Often compared to Cormac McCarthy, the Washington Post said of Vann's sophomore novel: “Searing. . . . Vann has an extravagantly literary sensibility, and his novel is full of echoes: One thinks of the stately inevitability of classical tragedy, of Chekhov’s lost souls, of the hallucinatory quality of Faulkner’s rural fantasia, and of Stephen King’s depictions of an unraveling mind.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the lead character, Galen, “might want to believe that naming trauma in advance can take away its power, but there is no way to anticipate or name the horror that closes his story. …I won't give away more about the ending except to say you read it knowing: I won't ever be able to forget this, even if I want to.” (Critics seem to be issuing a lot of these warnings, lately.)
Dirt: A Novel is in the Jefferson Parish Public Library, but not in New Orleans. It is also available online as an ebook. I will check with Maple Street and let you know when they have some copies.
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