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Dirt Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012

3.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann; 1st edition (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434021962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434021963
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.7 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,266,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Broken families, and the violence and destruction that love can wreak, continue to be his abiding themes.So builds the dreadful climax and dark denouement of this brilliant narrative. This is not a relaxing or consoling book. The reader feels some sympathy for Galen, whose suffering turns him into a bulimic and self-hating depressive. But he is also unremittingly selfish, deluded and abhorrent. He gives flesh to the notion that the victim eventually becomes the aggressor; that life taints and ruins, rather than redeems. The dirt of the title represents the final, violent sequence between Galen and his mother. But filth lies all over this novel: the tantalising young cousin who abuses Galen and then sleeps with him; the mother who adores and abhors the boy she brought into the world; and ultimately the muddied and muddled mind of Galen himself. This is a novel of violence, destruction and ruin. There is no salvation. And yet Mr Vann's soaring writing carries it forward - a reminder of the beauty that can grace even the beastliest things. (The Economist)

The characters in Dirt read as archetypes, figures in a Beckett play.The resulting sex scenes are stunning, a dirty taboo pitched to comic perfection.The last pages of Dirt are lit by a berserk energy. It's as if Vann has pulled off the trick of putting us inside a Hitchcock maniac.When you finally put this book down, break the spell and walk away, you're left with a deeper resonance, a lingering sadness. (Rich Cohen Financial Times)

Another dispatch from dysfunctional suburbia by one of the US's hottest writers.A morbid fascination with the family's eye-poppingly vicious interactions keeps you turning the pages.It's hard to forget. (Metro 2012-05-30)

Past master of family dysfunction hits the spot - again.Since the publication of his first much lauded novel, Legend of a Suicide, Vann has made something of a reputation for himself as a master of the dark twists of family dysfunction...Dirt is nothing if not Oedipal, sharing with this and other Greek myths its febrile, doomy atmosphere...Once we're on the inevitable course to the denouement, the writing is all there. Vann really is a brilliant documentarian of folie de grandeur. From this point on, Dirt is unputdownable, thundering at breathtaking speed towards the shocking climactic act. Brilliantly chilling. (Evening Standard)

Dirt is played out in an oppressive, crushing, claustrophobic wasteland, a setting that neatly mirrors the central relationship on which it centres.The scene is set for the mother of all family ding-dongs. And so it transpires.Vann expertly builds the pressure in the first half of the novel, so that what starts off as Galen's apathetic ennui quickly transforms itself under duress into something much more dangerous and poisonous. After a seemingly inevitable flashpoint event, the story begins an inexorable and tragic descent to a truly mind-boggling conclusion.The searing, penetrating heat of the California desert is brilliantly evoked here, and even a brief sojourn to a cabin in the Sierras only serves to highlight, upon the family's return, just how destructive the relentless power of the sun is.The last hundred pages of Dirt are as audacious and uncompromising a piece of writing as I've read in a long time. Vann is a brave writer, daring to write about and depict things that most other authors would baulk at, but that's what makes him so good - that unflinching eye for the darkness you could potentially find in any of us, given the wrong chain of events. If you want to feel good about the human condition, go elsewhere. If you want the naked, awful truth, then dive in. (Doug Johnstone Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

A major new novel from one of the most exciting and acclaimed American writers of today.

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