Sunday, April 29, 2012

What is Nick Dybek reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Nick Dybek, author of When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man.

His entry begins:
I haven’t read enough fiction lately, mostly because I’ve been researching a project that takes place in the aftermath of World War I. Luckily, many of the books on the subject are astoundingly good. I just finished Peter Englund’s The Beauty and the Sorrow, which completely knocked me out. The book focuses on the wartime experiences of a handful of people from all over the world—soldiers in Italy, Turkey and the Middle East; nurses in Russia, Poland and Greece; school children in Germany; bureaucrats in France. Some survive the war and some don’t.

Many of the stories are, for lack of a better word, amazing. I found myself reading entire pages aloud to my wife, and cutting off friends at dinner as I recounted the scenes. In one passage a British officer in Africa takes cover from enemy fire only to be attacked by the angry bees whose hives have been shot out of the jungle canopy. In another passage a starving Russian prisoner digs through a heap of hospital refuse for a filthy crust of bread. When a nurse takes pity on him and feeds him a bowl of soup his stomach explodes and he dies almost immediately. In yet another passage a soldier wakes from a near-death experience in an Italian hospital, certain that...[read on]
About When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man, from the publisher:
Every fall, the men of Loyalty Island sail from the Olympic Peninsula up to the Bering Sea to spend the winter catching king crab. Their dangerous occupation keeps food on the table but constantly threatens to leave empty seats around it.

To Cal, Alaska remains as mythical and mysterious as Treasure Island, and the stories his father returns with are as mesmerizing as those he once invented about Captain Flint before he turned pirate. But while Cal is too young to accompany his father, he is old enough to know that everything depends on the fate of those few boats thousands of miles to the north. He is also old enough to feel the tension between his parents over whether he will follow in his father's footsteps. And old enough to wonder about his mother's relationship with John Gaunt, owner of the fleet.

Then Gaunt dies suddenly, leaving the business in the hands of his son, who seems intent on selling away the fishermen's livelihood. Soon Cal stumbles on evidence that his father may have taken extreme measures to salvage their way of life. As winter comes on, his suspicions deepening and his moral compass shattered, he is forced to make a terrible choice.
Visit Nick Dybek's website.

Writers Read: Nick Dybek.

--Marshal Zeringue