Halibut On The Moon – David Vann

READ FOR NZ BOOK AWARDS

A suicidal man visits his family in California before deciding his fate.

✚ “My previous experience of David Vann was of the book Goat Mountain, which both freaked me out and captivated me. I wanted to recommend it to all and sundry, but knew the content wasn’t all and sundry’s cup of tea. Anyway, it was amazing and I totally rated Vann as a writer as a result. I was surprised to then see him on the Ockham shortlist for Halibut On The Moon as I thought he was an American. Turns out he is an American-cum-NZer and has been here since 2003. This is great news as the chances of me running into him on the street are now greatly increased.

“So, it is probably no surprise that I adored Halibut On The Moon. A 39-year Alaskan man named Jim is on the verge of suicide, telling everyone of his plans on a visit to his brother and family in California. His search for sense amongst the places and people that ground him is an achingly moving portrayal of a desperate and hollow man, and yes Jim’s character is dark but his reckless antics are also sadly comic, making this a roller coaster ride of emotion. I really felt for his brother Gary, who put up with so much in his bid to be Jim’s saviour.

“Ultimately it is a story about roads travelled and the search for redemption. There is more I want to say but won’t for fear of providing spoilers to Vann virgins. All I can say is Vann had a traumatic history that provides much fodder for his story writing. Halibut On The Moon is an excellent novel and I recommend both this and Goat Mountain. Right, now I’m off to read everything else he has ever written!” – Rachel

✚ “This book was a big literary punch in the face. I enjoyed about a quarter of it, maybe less, but after I had finished it I processed it a bit more and was really in awe of the author and what he’d done. Learning afterwards about the autobiographical nature of the story turned the novel from ‘moving’ to ‘gut wrenching’.

“I would struggle to recommend this book as a great read, but maybe if I wasn’t trying to get through it during a 6 week (and counting) lockdown I might have embraced it a bit more. It has an air of ‘prize winner’ about it and I can’t wait to find out what the Ockham judges think.” – Suzy

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Published 2019
Grove Press
292 pages

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