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Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Sukkwan Island", welcome to the icy hell

Sukkwan Island- David Vann

You know sometimes there's that sort of art that shocks you, beats you in a different way. That sort of situation after watching the ending credits of a film while asking yourself, did I liked it? And answering yourself "you cannot like that, it is too disturbing to use the word like". But you couldn't took your eyes off the screen. "Sukkwan Island" is that sort of art. It's a very disturbing novel. Hits hard, and there's no mercy or compassion on it. It seems that has something to do with the Spanish translation (the "Legend of a Suicide" stories have been excluded). There's no time for redemption, just to go deeper into this icy hell. 

David Vann's triumph is his ability to combine a sharp prose, without any rhetorical, with a constant presence of the isolated island where Roy and Jim, son and father, are planning to stay for a very special year. The landscape, and its relationship with the couple becomes the third character of the novel. These are the foundations from where the plot develops, first as a pretty distressing psychological thriller, where you can really feel the ever-present threat. The parallelism between survival in a hostile natural environment and survival between the two is brilliantly exposed. There's claustrophobia, anguish of open spaces and lack of preparation and equipment, but even more important, there's an enormous fear, child and adult, desolation, and guilt.  

Vann acknowledges the inspiration for Jim's character came from the figure of his father and his personal drama. That even scares me more. Because Jim is a self-pity monster, completely blocked and incapable of taking care of a kid that he is responsible of bringing to such a place. There's no child abuse or that sort of issue if you are thinking that... this is more about the absolute fracture between what and adult is supposed to do and the reality that shows the novel.

While reading, my mind recalled several times "Deliverance" the powerful novel from James Dickey that also had a pretty remarkable movie. Although nature and danger are always present, "Sukkwan Island" is more about an introspective and unbeatable struggle. But as happened on "Deliverance", when the brutal climax happens, you would like to run from shelter. Allow me to warn you before ending this review. You won't find any.

SCORE: 7/10

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