Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Harper Perennial. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
They say that opposites attract, but sometimes a couple brings too many differences to a marriage and too few points of commonality. David Vann explores just such a couple in his Caribou Island, recently out in paperback. Here's the publisher's summary:
On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, Gary and Irene’s marriage is unraveling. Following the outline of Gary’s old dream and trying to rebuild their life together, they are finally constructing the kind of cabin that drew them to Alaska in the first place. But the onset of an early winter and the overwhelming isolation of the prehistoric wilderness threaten their bond to the core.Although it's certainly not everyone's dream, I've always been attracted to the idea of a cabin in the woods with a fair mix of self-sufficiency. I'm not so sure, however, I'd take it as far as Gary by hauling logs in a canoe to a lonely island in the harsh Alaskan environment. In fact, Alaska acts almost as a third wheel in the couple's relationship, and without it, Gary and Irene might have had a running start. As it is, their own limitations are magnified in the face of the cold and wet, the bears and mosquitoes.
Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, Caribou Island is a drama of bitter love and failed dreams—an unforgettable portrait of desolation, violence, and the darkness of the soul.
Caribou Island isn't a happy novel; it's a look at stubbornness gone too far, crippling insecurity, mixed up hate and love, and the inability to see reality. It's also about the other Alaska, the one you don't see on postcards.
Irene slumped down inside the cabin, out of the wind for the most part, ducked her head down, her chin inside her jacket, folded her arms, closed her eyes.Vann takes you into the wilderness and into the heart of a family on the brink of disaster. You'll survive, but will they?
A fair representation of her three decades in Alaska, slumping down in rain gear, hiding, making herself as small as possible, fending off mosquitoes that somehow managed to fly despite the wind. Feeling chilled and alone. Not the expansive vision you'd be tempted to have, spreading your arms on some sunny day on an open slope of purple lupine, looking at mountains all around. (p. 204)
Take a look at some other opinions (click the links to get the full reviews):
- Caitlin Roper, writing for the Los Angeles Times: "Vann clearly has gifts for capturing emotional isolation and suffering. But it's his ability to spin a riveting story from these dark materials that is distinctive."
- Wendy from Caribousmom: "David Vann writes with honesty and sharp-edged realism that is hard to ignore. Not every reader will want to travel through this story with Vann, but for those who do, it will be a ride they will not soon forget."
- Ti from Book Chatter: "You don’t enjoy a story like this, but you experience it and appreciate it on a different level. Vann is a very talented writer and at this point, I’d read anything by him."
Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.