When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
By Nick Dybek
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488092, 320pp.)
Publication Date: April 12, 2012
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Every fall, the men of Loyalty Island sail from the Olympic Peninsula up to the Bering Sea to spend the winter catching king crab. Their dangerous occupation keeps food on the table but constantly threatens to leave empty seats around it.
To Cal, Alaska remains as mythical and mysterious as Treasure Island, and the stories his father returns with are as mesmerizing as those he once invented about Captain Flint before he turned pirate. But while Cal is too young to accompany his father, he is old enough to know that everything depends on the fate of those few boats thousands of miles to the north. He is also old enough to feel the tension between his parents over whether he will follow in his father's footsteps. And old enough to wonder about his mother's relationship with John Gaunt, owner of the fleet.
Then Gaunt dies suddenly, leaving the business in the hands of his son, who seems intent on selling away the fishermen's livelihood. Soon Cal stumbles on evidence that his father may have taken extreme measures to salvage their way of life. As winter comes on, his suspicions deepening and his moral compass shattered, he is forced to make a terrible choice.
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.
"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