'Dirt is unputdownable, thundering at breathtaking speed towards the shocking climactic act. Brilliantly chilling.' Evening Standard
Part of the experience of reading Vann (over time across his oeuvre, and within individual books) is a kind of uneasy curiosity about just how dark he’s going to get and where he’s going to go to find that darkness. This new excursion is as harrowing as anything he has written, as thrillingly desolate, in its way, as the traumatic hallucinations in Legend of a Suicide…One of the most intense and detailed examinations of an act of violence I have ever read in a work of fiction. Its unflinching realism eventually becomes a kind of nightmare surrealism. It is at once deeply disturbing and powerfully propulsive, a hallucinatory insight into what it means, and how it feels, to kill. The book is a vision of hell focused not on the supernatural, but on nature itself. Vann is a writer who hunts big game. He tracks the same wild territory as Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy – the violence and perversity at the root of what we call human nature, the animal savagery that is our first inheritance…For all its unyielding darkness, Goat Mountain is, perhaps perversely, an exhilarating experience. It is, first of all, cathartic in the way of all good tragedies. But it is also exhilarating for the least perverse of reasons: the experience of reading a novelist of David Vann's rare artistry and vision.
The Cain imagery is powerful and the narrator’s psyche fascinating...Vann’s prose never lags. The novel is not just gripping: it tightens around its reader like a boa constrictor...Goat Mountain is a brilliant and wise interrogation of a world in which “We were always killing something, and it seemed we were put here to kill”.
September 25, 2013
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