Dirt by David Vann - review by John Dugdale

John Dugdale

Prophet & Loss



William Heinemann 272pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

It is the summer of 1985, and Galen lives with his mother, Suzie-Q, in her childhood home in a dusty Californian valley. His father left his mother on learning that she was pregnant, and Galen has never been told anything about him. Aged twenty-two, he has no job and has yet to attend college, possibly due to mental illness or his propensity for wildly eccentric behaviour.

Early chapters show the pair visiting Galen’s grandmother in her care home, and the double form his rebellion against Suzie-Q takes. Outwardly, he reacts with sneering sarcasm to almost everything she says, and escapes to his bedroom; inwardly, he retreats into musings influenced by Buddhism and Kahlil Gibran.

He sees himself

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