Author:  David Vann
ISBN:  978-0-06-187572-4

Click Here To Purchase Caribou Island: A Novel
 
There are books that make you laugh, and novels that touch you so deeply with their romance, that you can barely break away from the page to go to work.  Some are filled with dialogue that is truly unforgettable, offering words and phrases that are destined to become a part of the human language for the rest of time.  Then, every once in a great while, there are those that are so filled with human tragedy, desperation, pain - that the complete and utter desolation of the characters make your heart physically hurt.  This is one of those stories.
 
When the reader first meets Irene, she's speaking to her daughter Rhoda and telling her about why they have to move.  She relates the story of when she came home one day as a young child to find her mother hanging from the rafters.  And goes on to say that she and Rhoda's father, Gary, are heading straight for divorce. 
 
For a long time, over thirty years now, Gary and Irene have lived on the remote lakefront property situated on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.  Their dreams have been lost - blown away by the strong winds - and they've become cold and frosty towards each
other mimicking the frozen tundra of their home.  Gary is the type of man, however, who doesn't want to say die.  He never wants to give up, at least not without giving his marriage a chance to come back from the dead.  What he decides to do is to build a cabin on Caribou Island.  This is a place located in the middle of the lake that would offer Gary, Irene, and their family absolutely no plumbing, electricity, or comforts of any kind.  In fact, it would be just like the harsh frontier life that the original settlers had to live through.

 
Irene doesn't actually want to lose Gary.  Even if she's no longer deeply in love with him, he's the man who is her husband, and the time invested in their life together is too long to just throw away.  So...to Caribou Island they go.
 
As time goes by, Gary - the ultimate dreamer who seems to have never gotten anything right or accomplished  anythingin his whole life - wants nothing more than to make this rustic cabin a positive thing for his marriage and his life.  While Gary is completely wrapped up with his goal, Irene becomes extremely ill.  Although the doctors and the x-rays show there's nothing wrong with Irene, she still feels horrific most of the time and longs for medication just to get through the day.  Rhoda is kind enough to steal painkillers for her mom from the veterinarian she works with, while beginning a relationship with Jim, the local dentist.  Unfortunately for Rhoda, her own love match begins to sour right under her nose, but all her concentration is locked on her mother's plight and not on her own romance that's falling apart.
 
This is no ordinary piece of fiction.  Mr. Vann has reached into the depths of human nature to produce a story of unfathomable desperation, and readers need to be fully invested in each and every page. 
 

Click Here To Purchase Caribou Island: A Novel