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When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man Hardcover – April 12, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Complex and suspenseful . . . Dybek manages to create [a] genuine tragedy-powerful, mythic, unforgettable."-Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule

"An authentic, atmospheric, coming-of-age story with a painful dilemma . . . A terrific debut."-C. J. Box, author of Back of Beyond

"Robert Louis Stevenson would be proud of Nick Dybek. . . . He delivers a page-turner full of danger, secrets, and betrayals."-Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily, Alone

"Part mystery, part lament, part coming-of-age drama, this novel will stay with you long after you turn the last page. . . . Fascinating and powerful."-Daniel Alarcón, author of Lost City Radio

"An engrossing and exacting moral thriller."-Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl

"I was grateful to experience full-tilt insomnia, reading Nick Dybek's splendid, haunting, When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man. . . . I love this novel."-Howard Norman, author of What Is Left the Daughter

"Nick Dybek grabs hold of both your imagination and your conscience, and won't let them rest."-Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles

About the Author

Nick Dybek is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is the recipient of a Hopwood Award for short fiction, a Maytag Fellowship, and a 2010 James Michener- Copernicus Society of America Award. Dybek lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1 edition (April 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488096
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488092
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,400,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Treasure Island was one of my favorite reads as a child and when I saw this book being described as a take on the classic novel, I was predictably intrigued. As I settled down to read this story, I found myself engaged in a plot that is filled with drama, high atmosphere, dark deeds, and mystery, as well as a story that deals with the themes of friendship, loyalty, and moral dilemmas.

Part of what makes When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man such an interesting read for me is the sense of atmosphere and dark drama. Protagonist, 15-year-old Cal Bolling, lives on the remote Loyalty Island. A major industry for the island's inhabitants is king crab catching, which is an endeavor not without its share of great peril. When the man who owns the business dies, his son Richard decides to sell the business, jeopardizing the very lifeblood of the island's population. Richard goes missing during a crabbing expedition, and the locals are relieved.

Well, Cal makes a dark discovery and together with his best friend, faces a serious moral dilemma - should this dark secret be revealed, or should they keep silent and ensure the security of the locals? The themes explored here bear similarities to Treasure Island, and fans of the classic might enjoy this dark tale as well as the author's narrative style.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ethan on April 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
To fifteen-year-old Cal, his father is like a stranger. The family resides on Loyalty Island, a costal Washington community that relies on the Alaskan king-crabbing season to provide economic stability. Each winter, Cal and his mother are left alone while Henry braves the harsh conditions of the Bering Sea. Despite Henry's well intentions, Cal feels a disconnect with his father. His mother, who moved to the island after falling in love with Henry and becoming pregnant with Cal, spends countless hours in the basement, listening to her large record collection and recalling her earlier years.

Now that he is older, Cal is noticing trouble in is parent's marriage. They argue about whether or not he should become a fisherman like is father. His mother unrelentingly insists that he will complete school and find a job away from the community's difficult lifestyle. Even more troubling than the disagreements, however, is the amount of time that his mother spends with local tycoon John Gaunt.

Gaunt owns the entire fleet of crabbing boats and the local cannery. When he suddenly dies, the entire business is left in the hands of his son Richard, who has never embraced the lifestyle of his father. As Richard threatens to disrupt the livelihood of the community, and Cal's mother, now pregnant and distraught with grief, flees to a friend's home in California, Cal is forced to remain with his father. When the winter crap season approaches, Cal discovers information that shows how far his father has gone to protect their way of life. What follows is a harrowing tale of a young man, forced to come to terms with his family, himself, and to decide what is the "right" thing to do.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Larry Hoffer on July 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loyalty Island in Washington State is ruled by the sea. Every fall, boats captained and crewed by Loyalty Islanders sail from the Olympic Peninsula up to the Bering Sea to spend the winter catching king crab. This is the industry that keeps the town and its businesses running, even as the threat of death at sea hangs over everyone. For Cal, whose father captains one of the boats, the sea and Alaska seem almost as mythical as the pirate stories his father used to tell him--but he also knows how the sea strains his parents' marriage, both when it keeps his father away, and when it brings him home.

The Gaunt family has owned the shipping fleet for several generations, but when John Gaunt suddenly dies, leaving the business in his estranged son Richard's hands, the future of Loyalty Island lies in the balance. Richard seems all-too-determined to sell the fleet, which would have major effects on the livelihood of not just those who work the boats, but those who run the town businesses as well. And when Cal discovers that his father may have taken a drastic step to save their way of life, he is forced to make a difficult choice--and determining which is the right choice is harder than anything he has ever had to do.

Nick Dybek's fantastic first novel, Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man, is a powerful story about relationships, about loyalty between fathers and sons, and about how the things that get left unsaid sometimes hurt more than things that are said. Dybek does a terrific job depicting characters who are forced to make choices we might not approve of, but we do understand their motivation to do so. While some of the details of the story Dybek leaves a little too vague for me, I found myself marveling over his use of language and the poetry of some of his sentences. This is a great read, and I hope this is the start of a long literary career for Nick Dybek.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Melody Moore on June 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oprah recommended seventeen books for reading this summer. Dybek's first novel was on the list and I think it belongs at the top of the list (along with Cheryl Strayed's "Wild"). Just for the heck of it, I decided to work my way through all seventeen and decide if Oprah knows what she's talking about. I'm pretty sure she didn't read all of the books herself, at least I hope she didn't. Some were really awful (some of those were written by well-known successful writers). "When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man" is a coming of age story told by a fifteen year old boy who deals with an intense moral dilemma. The setting, a small community of fishermen in Puget Sound, is perfect. The characters, maimed body and soul by their work and their relationships, are beautifully drawn and complex. This story will stay with me for a long time.
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