|When Captain Flint Was |
StillA Good Man
by Nick Dybek
April 12, 2012
Cal has spent all of his fourteen years living on the fictional and symbolically named Loyalty Island, in a community that relies entirely on the king crab season. When the Island's wealthy patriarch John Gaunt dies suddenly, and the fishing business (all of it, the boats, the tarps, the nets, the pots, everything) are willed to his son Richard, the men of the community band together to ensure that the season will commence as it always has. When it does, Cal is left behind as usual.
But this time it's different. This time, the men of Loyalty Island have left behind a secret which, if discovered, will tear the community apart. As anyone familiar with Jim Hawkins' eavesdropping ways may have predicted, Cal discovers that secret, and the period that follows this discovery is a nicely crafted coming of age story.
The imagery in Dybek's prose is hauntingly beautiful, and his incorporation of music and musicality in the story definitely lend themselves to that beauty. Sometimes the metaphors are a bit overwrought, and at other times the presence of the author can be a bit much. We're meant to understand that Cal is telling this story from many years after the events of the novel, but sometimes it comes across more as Dybek telling the story than anyone who might have lived it. That said, Dybek's storytelling skills seem to come naturally and remind this reader that some stories are never just stories.