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When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man Hardcover – April 12, 2012
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“Dybek can paint a salty landscape… but it’s the fast whirlpool of lies, murder, and moral dilemma that drives the book. “ –Outside Magazine
“Finely crafted… a taut novel juggling the sometimes conflicting impulses to do the moral thing, and to protect those we love.” – The Los Angeles Times
“A complex and riveting tale about deception and betrayal, asking us how far we would go to preserve what we hold dearest… In this magnificent debut Dybek’s incommunicable thrills shock us and disturb us and make him one to watch.” –The Daily Beast
"Dybek brings serious talent to bear… Powerful.” –The New York Times Book Review
“[A] powerful first novel… [that explores] loyalty and moral choice within a crumbling family.” –The Boston Globe
"Dybek constructs a suspenseful novel, and the quality of writing is enough to engage the reader…the themes that [he] tackles are universal and are sure to resonate with all." –Fredricksburg Free-Lance Star
“Hypnotic, relentless… Dybek’s strength of voice and confident command over Loyalty Island’s obsessive fishing community is enough to cement this seaside tale of morality’s limitations as a terrific debut.” –The Onion A.V. Club
“[A] striking debut novel, thick with a sense of maritime freedom, lawlessness and tragedy.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“There is… wisdom here, and the momentum of a thrilling yarn, delivered as if by a scarred man by the consoling light of a fire.” –The Economist
“Potent… Dybek conjures his island with rich physical details… marshaling the narrative along with an almost flawless sense of timing and pace… [An] impressive debut.” –The Millions
“Engrossing, often haunting… When the deck is stacked against us, when the wind is up and the cry comes from the crow’s nest, will we ultimately act as Young Jim or Long John Silver? That’s the dilemma Cal finds himself in and one that readers will toss about in their minds long after finishing this fine debut novel.” –Washington Independent Review of Books
“Incandescently imaginative and suspenseful… Dybek has created a superbly orchestrated and soulful drama of loyalty to family and an imperiled way of life and the fathomless forces that make a good man go bad.” –Booklist
“Dybek proves himself an observant, appealing writer… the story [is] peopled with multidimensional characters and featuring well-drawn settings. [He] writes well about family, about relationships and loyalty, about responsibility and community, and about all that passes from father to son.” –Kirkus
"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
The title may seem strange--and it is a strange one. But as you read, you discover that the first-person narrator (and this is very believable first person) loved "Treasure Island" as a boy. So it becomes the metaphor for the novel which takes place in an isolated community, cut off from the mainland, out in Puget Sound where the economy is solely governed by one man who owns the fleet of boats as well as the properties on the shore, boats that once a year go to Alaska to fish, one treks that consume months of time, leaving behind the women and children. So what happens with the owner of this fleet dies, leaving it to his son, Richard, who has no use for anything to do with this place? That you will discover when you read the book.
The two boys, Cal and his friend (sort of), Jaime become very much involved in an incident that will dramatically change their lives. Cal's mother is a fascinating character, a woman who came to the island with her love of music and her record collection, a huge one, from Santa Cruz and quite obviously hates the place. Jaime's mother is also a fascinating character, an attractive woman, who deals with her loneliness very differently than Cal's mother who, by the way, is pregnant, many years later than her first one. And she had a special relationship with the owner who dies early on in the novel.
I think this is a great story, one that I suspect will be up for some awards.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You could not like ANY of the characters, so there was no one to root for. The way the 2 kids behaved was not believable. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Summer Maddie
Look...I liked the story. I liked the way the author wrote it. I wanted to feel more about some of the characters, but thought the author hadn't allowed us to go there with them. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Prytania
It was a page-turning, eerily suspenseful tragedy. It's biggest strength was in Dybek's ability to use atmospheric details to drive tension and plot. Read morePublished on April 6, 2014 by Anthony Granai
This book is like going fishing. Slowly the hook takes you, and you are inexorably drawn in. Who did what? How will it end? This was one of the best books I have read this year. Read morePublished on February 8, 2014 by Jane Waldock
Great story and extremely well written. The last chapter will kick a hole in your stomach and you'll have to reread it three more times to recover.Published on December 30, 2013 by Zach
This is a great story and well worth reading. This book reminds me of catcher in the rye and similar "coming of age" stories. Read morePublished on July 17, 2013 by MW
What a dark, dreary, depressing novel. I regret every minute I spent reading it. The story line is totally implausible. Read morePublished on June 7, 2013 by David Segal
This book had nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but it wasn't really all that enjoyable of a read. The author crafts nice sentences, but the story felt dragged out. Read morePublished on April 29, 2013 by Windsofnirvana
Never have I been so moved by such powerful prose and an unforgettable tale, which remains lingering within your mind for a long time afterward. Read morePublished on March 23, 2013 by Lucinda