When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek

77%

14 Critic Reviews

Dybek proves himself a observant, appealing writer
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.

 

About Nick Dybek

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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 Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award. Dybek lives in New York City.
 
Published April 12, 2012 by Riverhead Books. 320 pages
Genres: Other, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
All: 14 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
Feb 15 2012

Dybek proves himself a observant, appealing writer

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Feb 13 2012

Cal’s world never quite comes to life, perhaps because most of the action occurs offshore, leaving readers with an endless list of samurai movies and Dylan songs in lieu of plot and a satisfying dénouement. Though there are hints of precocious brilliance, too often the novel reads as pastiche.

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AV Club

Excellent
Reviewed by Kevin McFarland on Apr 30 2012

Like the raging sea the novel romanticizes, Captain Flint is a hypnotic, relentless debut that explores every man’s capability to become evil,

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Scott Martelle on May 29 2012

...he has taken a story line that could easily have veered into film cliché...and turned it into a taut novel juggling the sometimes conflicting impulses to do the moral thing, and to protect those we love.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Nan Goldberg on May 07 2012

Nick Dybek gets right to the point in his powerful first novel, “When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man,” as Cal, his narrator, recalls the long-ago summer he learned that good people sometimes do bad things.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Tim Wendel

And that’s one of the strengths of Captain Flint. Not only can we picture this place, but we also soon realize how desperate and to what lengths the good folk of Loyalty Island will go to assure that the crab fleet sails.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Malcolm Forbes on Apr 23 2012

Dybek’s novel succeeds in being a cut above most debuts. Practically from the outset he immerses us in a complex and riveting tale about deception and betrayal...

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The Millions

Excellent
Reviewed by Mindy Farabee on May 16 2012

Dybek conjures his island with rich physical details, with crashing and shrieking, rain thrumming, waves tumbling, prose steeped in an atmosphere that occasionally borders on Gothic...Dybek avoids getting mired in style, however, marshaling the narrative along with an almost flawless sense of timing and pace.

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Outside

Excellent
Reviewed by Jon Billman on May 09 2012

Dybek can paint a salty landscape—“Loyalty Island was the stink of herring, nickel paint, and kelp rotting”—but it’s the fast whirlpool of lies, murder, and moral dilemma that drives the book.

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It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Good
Reviewed by LHH on May 11 2012

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.

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The Literary Gothamite

Below average
Reviewed by Lauren Cartelli on Apr 21 2012

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.

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Jagged Edge Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Ethan on Apr 13 2012

This is an extremely solid novel that expertly blends strong characters with a vivid setting, original plot, and a moral awareness that is rarely found in debut novels.

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Dilatory Bibliophile

Below average
Reviewed by E on May 11 2012

And the problem is that the author is far too present. You hear the words coming out of Nick Dybek’s mouth, instead of the mouths of his characters.

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JulieW8

Good
Reviewed by Julie

I was lost in the storytelling and finally couldn’t put it down, even though it was late and I was nodding off to sleep – I thought about putting it down and finishing it in the morning, but I couldn’t.

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Reader Rating for When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
74%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 60 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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