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Aquarium (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 3. März 2015
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Praise for AQUARIUM:
Elegantly written and fiercely imagined...physically, this book is so gorgeous it enhanced my reading experience. I found myself turning pages slowly, then running my hand across each smooth page. The photographs throughout the text, along with the turquoise capital letters that begin each chapter and mark the author's name and book title on every creamy, thick page, reminded me that no electronic reader could provide this tactile and visual experience...suspenseful at times, this is a painful novel, but its beauty propels it toward redemption.”Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune
Much like the waters of the Seattle tourist attraction at its heart, David Vann’s new novel, Aquarium, virtually bends light, plunging the reader into the relentless darkness of tormented souls in a splintered family...His language hits the reader like shrapnel in a metalworker’s studiofragmented and sharp-fitting for novels so packed with shattering turns.”Tyrone Beason, Seattle Times
"Gripping, painful, but ultimately hopeful, Aquarium is a coming-of-age story that explores the limits of love and forgiveness. Vann submerges you so deeply in Caitlin’s world, you’ll be gasping for breath when you finally surface. A."Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly
Cinematic...Aquarium is a genuine departure for Vann, an authentically new direction...Its delicate, coming-of-age sensuality and bright saltwater menagerie.”Lydia Millet, The New York Times Book Review
"Since electrifying the literary world five years ago with his debut novel, Legend of a Suicide, Vann has racked up an astonishing number of international awards. This lovely, wrenching novel should add to that list."Library Journal (starred review)
"By pulling no punches in this explicit exploration of family, forgiveness, duty, acceptance, parent-child relationships, and what constitutes abuse, Vann has outdone himself."Booklist (starred review)
"A kind of modern fairy tale...Unlike Vann's other novels, which exist in a closed system of violence and despair, this story offers redemption...Vann's novels are striking, uncompromising portraits of American life; here is another exceptional example."Kirkus (starred review)
"Vann’s elegantly written, emotionally intense novel juxtaposes the contained world of undersea creatures with the life of a family forced beyond its self-protective isolation...a moving exploration of the boundaries we draw around ourselves to stay safe and unchanged."Publishers Weekly
If deprivation was to Larkin what daffodils were to Wordsworth, then David Vann’s daffodils are fish...Told bravely but persuasively...The author has metamorphosed himself into a 12-year-old girl with startlingly brilliant results. Aquarium is as rich as good poetry and as addictive as a first-class detective novel.”Wynn Wheldon, The Spectator
A triumph.”Daily Mail (UK)
A stirring tale that isn’t as simple as it first appears.”Esquire (UK)
This novel is arguably Vann’s brightest...Caitlin’s tale with its many surface ripples proves immersive, the narrative propelling us along like a forceful current...Once again, and in contrast to many of his peers, Vann’s trademark limpid prose enables us to observe far more of what lies beneath.”Weekend Australian
A lyrical and moving new novel from the author of Legend of a Suicide -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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The story opens in 1990's Seattle, where 12-year-old Caitlin lives in a tiny apartment with her mother Sheri. Sheri works long hours at the local container port to support the two of them. Together their life has been built on routine. They wake early, have breakfast, and then mom rushes off to work and Caitlin goes to school. She is always the first kid to arrive at school. Mom works overtime whenever possible, and Caitlin goes to the "aquarium" after school until her mother is done with work. This arrangement was cheaper than childcare, but Caitlin doesn't mind, she loves her time spent at the aquarium, and is fascinated by all of the exotic fish she visits with each day. She hopes to study the science of fish when she gets older. When day is done Caitlin and her mother collapse together or talk briefly, unless Sheri has her boyfriend over, and then Caitlin is off to her room.
One day Caitlin befriends an elderly man at the aquarium, the two talk about the fish. Soon every time she goes to the aquarium, the man is there as well and soon they begin to talk about more than just fish. Caitlin likes the man and is unafraid, so when he asks a favor of her, she thinks nothing of telling her mother. No way could Caitlin have anticipated how her mother would react, and the horrific consequences that would result as a result of the situation which has been set in motion. The mother/daughter relationship will forever be changed.
I loved everything about this simple, but well crafted story. Caitlin is such a strong, and brave young girl. She's smart, inquisitive and longs to be loved. Despite the situation over which she has no control, she displays a childlike determination to make things right.
The book contains lovely color photographs of exotic fish which is such a nice touch. Readers who enjoy stories about dysfunctional childhoods or coming of age stories, this is one of the best of its kind that I've read in a long time. Be prepared to be shocked! A word of caution -- a few reviews out there give away some significant spoilers, do yourself a favor, and just dive in, too much detail will spoil the experience for you. So far this is my favorite read of 2015.
Aquarium is the fifth full length novel by American author, David Vann. It is set in 1994 and narrated by twelve-year-old Caitlin Thompson. Caitlin’s world revolves around three important elements: her hardworking single mother, Sheri; her best friend at school, Indian émigré Shalini Anand; and her afternoon visits to the Seattle Aquarium. The year is drawing to a close, class involves making a paper-mache Divali Reindeer and Sheri has finally met a decent man, Steve, when Caitlin encounters an old man at the Aquarium, an old man who seems as fascinated by the fish as she is. And who seems very interested in her life.
Vann gives the reader a very diverse cast of characters: the effervescent Shalini; the admirably balanced Steve; the damaged and resentful Sheri; the earnestly repentant Bob. Of course, Caitlin, with her optimism, her love and her capacity for compassion, outshines them all. Their interactions are sometimes funny, sometimes decidedly uncomfortable, sometimes shockingly raw, but fans of Vann’s work will know not to expect a novel filled with sweetness and light. His work has been described as confronting. The plot takes a few unexpected turns before arriving at a startling climax.
While readers may find the lack of quotation marks for speech irritating, this is more than compensated for by the gorgeous descriptive passages, especially, but not only, those about fish. “You’re in trouble, Shalini whispered in my ear, leaning close. All the little hairs stood up on my neck and I had goose bumps. Shalini could make me shiver, as if my entire body were a bell that had just been struck” Another excellent offering from David Vann.
Aquarium is also about the possibility of change. The waspfish lives fifty feet underwater where light barely penetrates. Rise a few feet and the waspfish might experience a small change "as something enormous." So too might people who step outside the "narrow range" in which they live their lives. You cannot change the past, but it might be possible to change how your react to the past. Sheri hates her father but her father has changed. Can Sheri?
At 32, Caitlin Thompson looks back to the time when, at age 12, she visited an aquarium in Seattle every day after school before walking home. She likes the way the fish are protected from predators, unlike the real world, where people face all the risks of fish in the ocean. Every day, Caitlin runs into an old man at the aquarium who makes a point of talking to her. The encounters appear to be innocent but the situation is ominous. Is he a lonely old man or a child molester?
The leafy seadragon does nothing but hide. As the story progresses, Caitlin keeps parts of her life hidden but can't imagine living that way. "There has to be more than just hiding," the old man tells Caitlin, but hiding keeps the leafy seadragon safe. Caitlin values safety, enjoys being home with her mother even when Sheri is so wrapped up in her new boyfriend that Caitlin becomes invisible to her. Sheri is scraping by on the salary she earns unloading containers from cargo ships. The aquarium is her after-school babysitter. Sheri used to take Caitlin to work during overtime shifts until a customs inspector threatened to call social services. Caitlin's greatest fear is not of the old man but of social workers taking her away from her mother, particularly after the police correctly suspect that Sheri slapped her.
What Caitlin sees of adult life is unbearably sad. People are trapped by their lives. Sheri resents working a job "that meant nothing and would lead nowhere." Hatred inspired by the father who abandoned her to a hellacious existence consumes Sheri's memories. Sheri has good reason to feel angry but she is so consumed that she pollutes Caitlin with her rage and resentment. When Sheri lets the past control her, even Caitlin's home does not feel safe. The reader cringes at some of Sheri's behavior with Caitlin, but it is hard to blame Sheri for being the person she has become. At the same time, it is easy to be concerned about Caitlin. Many of the adults in the novel feel like they are living lives filled with dents that can never be repaired; they are Caitlin's role models.
I won't discuss what happens in Aquarium beyond the setup. The powerful story moves in unanticipated directions. Sensitive readers might find it too disturbing. It is often raw and painful, the kind of story that makes the reader want to scream at a character to make her understand how wrong she is. David Vann is able to spark that reaction by creating characters that are utterly convincing. Aquarium is not a sunny story of forgiveness, but it is a realistic story of redemption that reflects both the difficulty and the possibility of change.
Even if you do not read this extraordinary book, you should page through it to look at the pictures of fish. They are just as gorgeous as Vann's elegant prose.
As soon as I was finished reading --I started for a 2nd run-through. My husband is home recovering from a serious Mt. biking accident -both arms in casts & challenges with eye focus from the head concussion, so I read "Aquarium" to him. Paul's rating is also a solid 5 stars.
I can name 'quickly' a few of my FAVORITE (meaningful to me) books I've read in --say the last 4 or 5 years -- Name 5 or 6 books FAST --Books I ALWAYS keep in my thoughts ---and "AQUARIUM" is now one of 'these' types of books for me: A STRONG FAVORITE!!!!!!
I read many books worthy of 4 and 5 stars --but this book is beyond STARS. Its a book that just should be read by 'everyone'!
MEN, WOMAN, TEENS (male/female teens), People from ALL WALKS of LIFE with a wide variety of interests can find value in this very creative beautifully written novel.
There is one scene in this book that will floor readers. I was soooooooo on the edge --as in dying on the edge --I couldn't believe what I was reading! NO NO NO --I kept saying to myself --'can't be'! --
YOU MUST READ THIS to find out what I am speaking about!!!
Twelve year old Caitlin, who wishes to be an ichthyologist one day, and prays to "The Golden Fish" gives the heartbeat to this story. Every character in this story is fully developed. I'm already casting -in my head- for the movie!
Since I don't want to give much away, I'll share some powerful-provoking quotes from the story:
1) "What do we owe for what has come before us, the previous generations?"
2) "A terrible moment in childhood hovers with a kind of eternity, unbearable."
3) "This is what I loved about a city, all the world's hidden away inside, largest of aquariums."
4) "I was jangly from lack of sleep, buzzing inside. My spine alive as a sea horse fin, fluttering."
5) "And she was far above me, in class, family, intelligence, and sophistication and knowledge and beauty, and we didn't yet consider those things, and I couldn't yet feel inadequate in the adult way, really, even in the terrible shame of that day."
6) "Anything is possible with a parent. Parents are gods. They make and destroy us. They warp the world and remake it their own shape, and that's the world we know forever after."
Powerful, Highly recommended!
Although I think Vann intended it to be a surprise, the old man's identity was apparent almost immediately. What was a surprise, and an unpleasant one at that, was how Caitlin's mother treated her after the "dark family secret" was revealed. Being the only child of a single mother myself, I simply couldn't believe that Caitlin's mother would take her childhood experience out on Caitlin in the manner she did. Moreover, Caitlin's budding lesbianism with her friend Shalini was an unnecessary development which did nothing to advance the plot, other than to give Sheri another reason to be disgusted by Caitlin, thereby justifying her treatment of her daughter.
Vann's "crystalline [and] chiseled" writing style, with its constant sentence fragments and lack of punctuated dialogue, did produce some lovely aphorisms (which I have added to the Goodreads "Quotable Quotes" library). Overall, however, this choppiness distanced me from the emotions in which Vann presumably intended his audience to be invested. Aquarium was an OK short read, but I will not be seeking out Vann's allegedly "exceptional" backlist.
I received a free copy of Aquarium through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.