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Dirt

Dirt

By David Vannpaperback26 April 2012
$29.99
or 4 payments of $7.50 with Learn more
Booklovers earn $1.45 in rewards
The year is 1985 and 22-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house with 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 old family money - an inheritance that his Aunt Helen and 17-year-old cousin, Jennifer, are determined to get their hands on. A bulimic vegetarian who considers himself an old soul, Galen is a New Age believer on a warpath towards transcendence, practising meditation, firewalking, etheric surgery and authentic movement. He yearns for transformation- to free himself from the corporeal, to be as weightless as air, to walk on water. But he's powerless to stop the manic binges that overtake him, leading him to gorge on meat and other forbidden desires, including sex. A prisoner of his body, he is obssessed with thoughts of the boldly flirtatious Jennifer, and dreams of shedding himself of the clinging mother whose fears and needs also weigh him down. When the family takes a trip to an old cabin in the Sierras, near South Lake Tahoe, tensions come to a climax. Caught in a compromising position, Galen will discover the shocking truth of just how far he will go to attain the transcendence he craves.

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: Dirt
  • Author: David Vann
  • Edition: 1
  • Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
  • ISBN: 9781921922572
  • Length: 2.1 centimetre
  • Width: 15.4 centimetre
  • Languages: English
  • Format: PaperBack
  • Category: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: 26/04/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Height: 23.4 centimetre
  • Weight: 0.33 keg
  • Country of publication: Australia

RATINGS & REVIEW

8/08/2015 6:57:02 PM - Marianne
a dark and powerful read.
“Everything shrank in the glare. The roof of the shed maybe a foot or two lower, the boards thinner by half an inch. The fig tree more squat to the ground, not as tall as before. The furrows shallow. Galen didn’t know what that meant, that everything grew as the light faded and shrank again in the day” Dirt is the second novel by American author, David Vann. Recipe for family disintegration 1 young man, 22 years old (going on sixteen), the favoured grandchild, a virgin, trying unsuccessfully to transcend his baser instincts to exist on a higher plane (Galen) 1 single mother, product of a dysfunctional childhood, the favoured daughter, in control of the family trust fund and unwilling to let her son go (Suzie Q.) 1 grandmother, descending into dementia, relegated to a care facility 1 aunt, filled with anger and jealousy about her childhood and her violent father, resentful and determined to get her share of the trust for her daughter (Helen) 1 cousin, seventeen years old, promiscuous, flirtatious, very selfish (Jennifer) 1 trust fund, supposedly being reserved to pay for the care facility 1 secluded mountain cabin with very cramped accommodation. Combine all the ingredients for a few days and allow to simmer. Wait for the inevitable interaction to occur, observe as things come to a head, then return all ingredients to their previous environments. To the young man and his mother, add one ill-considered threat and a shed with a rusty padlock. Vann’s novels are never comfortable reads. In this one, he includes underage incestuous sex, described in some explicit and rather disturbing sex scenes, family secrets only hinted at, abusive relationships and mental illness. The result has all the mesmerising quality of a train wreck: readers may not want to see what happens, but neither can they look away. His characters are people driven to extremes, and as such, not a bit likeable, although Galen does show some care for his grandma, who tells him: “Do you know what it’s like not to remember?.......It’s like being no one. You think you’re someone now, but it’s only because you can put your memories together. You put them together and you think that makes something. But take away the memories, or even scramble them out of order, and there’s nothing left”. Vann’s descriptive prose is often truly evocative: “Everything was pale, washed-out. No depth. A two-dimensional world, a cardboard cutout. The hedge and the walnut trees in the same vertical plane though they were a hundred feet apart” and “Shadows everywhere, and the world could be seen in two ways, the light or the shadows. Shapes born and landed, or the dark spaces around them, hollows that fell back infinitely” and “Galen wanted to leave. He wanted to get away from this table. This table felt extremely dangerous. He understood now that what held his family together was violence. But he was locked here, glued in place, unable to move. He could only watch, and the only movement was his mother’s glass, and his grandmother’s glass and palm moving in its slow circles, and the wavering of the light” are examples. Vann’s second novel is well-written and compelling: a dark and powerful read.
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