2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Dirt (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the third David Vann book I have read and reviewed and I think it is the best of the three.
I don't think you can expect to read a frothy light David Vann novel. His novels are dark tales of human dysfunction. The first two were so similar that they almost seemed to be the same novel. Here the setting is California rather than Alaska and the cast of characters is smaller, only six, two warring middle aged sisters, their senile mother and two cousins, Galen, a 22 year old virgin who is rather too closely wrapped in his mother's apron strings and who to me seems to display behaviour reminiscent of Asberger's Syndrome and Jennifer, a sexually precocious and provocative minx. The other character is the dead father who appeared to have been abusive to people around him yet appeared also to have been the only person to have led any kind of useful life. This makes the story seem more intense and claustrophobic in character - just don't expect a happy ending, it won't happen.
To give readers a bit of a taste of what to expect, I think it worth quoting a passage in which the vegetarian Galen eats a load of pigs in blankets [sausages wrapt in bacon] ostensibly to annoy his mother. 'Thank you, his mother said. And she passed the plate. A dozen piggies in their blankets. Galen slid them all onto his plte and then he stuffed them in his mouth with both fists, hot doughy intestinal meat with the taste of butchery floors and tongues and hooves. His cousing laughing and his mother gone again and he kept stuffing and chewing and swallowing the little abominations until there were only shards on his plate, the ruins of the feast, and then he bent down to lick his plate clean, left the table with his stomach heaving and lurched up the stairs to his room and bathroom to vomit into the toilet. When he was done, he folded his arms on the toilet seat, his mouth acidic, and he took a little nap. Closed his eyes and slept on the toilet with the unclean water below, thought about dipping his head in for a drink, and he would have done it if his mother had been watching.'