Legend of a Suicide: Stories [NOOK Book]

Overview

In semiautobiographical stories set largely in David Vann's native Alaska, Legend of a Suicide follows Roy Fenn from his birth on an island at the edge of the Bering Sea to his return thirty years later to confront the turbulent emotions and complex legacy of his father's suicide.

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Legend of a Suicide: Stories

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Overview

In semiautobiographical stories set largely in David Vann's native Alaska, Legend of a Suicide follows Roy Fenn from his birth on an island at the edge of the Bering Sea to his return thirty years later to confront the turbulent emotions and complex legacy of his father's suicide.

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Editorial Reviews

Tom Bissell
The reportorial relentlessness of Vann's imagination often makes his fiction seem less written than chiseled. One cannot say that Vann does not do humor well because—here, at least—he does not do humor at all. What he does do well is despair and desperation. In spite (or maybe because) of this, he leads the reader to vital places. A small, lovely book has been written out of his large and evident pain. "A father, after all," Vann writes, "is a lot for a thing to be." A son is also a lot for a thing to be; so is an artist. With Legend of a Suicide, David Vann proves himself a fine example of both.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

This well-crafted debut collection, five stories and a novella, from award-winning writer and memoirist Vann (A Mile Down) revolves obsessively around the suicide of an Alaskan father. Hopscotching through time, each tale examines the father's death from the perspective of his young son, Roy. The first story, "Ichthyology," introduces the young protagonist and his troubled father, a tax-dodging dentist and fisherman who ends up shooting himself on the deck of his fishing boat. "Rhoda" finds the 12-year-old boy bonding with his new stepmother, a pretty young woman his father married before the tragedy. In "A Legend of Good Men," Roy imagines a fantastically violent rampage in which he does away with his mother's suitors, à la Odysseus and Telemachus. The novella, "Sukkwan Island," is an increasingly suspenseful story of survival, in which a 13-year-old Roy and his father brave the elements for months in an isolated mountain cabin. Vann uses startling powers of observation to create strong characters, tense scenes and genuine surprises, leading to a ghastly conclusion that's sure to linger. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061987809
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/16/2010
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,371,859
  • File size: 818 KB

Meet the Author

David Vann is the author of Legend of a Suicide, winner of France's Prix MÉdicis for best foreign book and a New Yorker Book Club pick; the bestselling memoir A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea; and Last Day On Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter, Steve Kazmierczak, winner of the AWP Nonfiction Prize. A recipient of Wallace Stegner and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, with an MFA from Cornell, he's a professor now at the University of San Francisco and writes for magazines such as Esquire, Outside, Men's Journal, and the Sunday Times.

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Table of Contents

Ichthyology 1

Rhoda 9

A Legend of Good Men 19

Sukkwan Island, Part One 27

Sukkwan Island, Part Two 95

Ketchikan 147

The Higher Blue 163

Acknowledgments 171

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Legend of a Suicide is like a drop of water upon a smooth, glassy lake. Small, concentric circles that eventually grow in size as they ripple across the water. Beautiful in one sense, slightly disturbing in another but all in all, an unforgettable re

    Legend of a Suicide is collection of stories. One novella, and five shorter stories. Although they are separate and some were even published independently of the others, they still have a common theme; the relationship between a father and his son.

    As the publisher's blurb indicates, this collection is semi-autobiographical in that the author's father did commit suicide but much of what happens in each story is fictionalized. This is true particularly for the novella, which is quite touching and shocking at the same time.

    Vann does an exceptional job with setting. Nearly all of the stories take place in his native Alaska, so there is much to love. The writing makes you feel as if you're there and considering the fact that I've never visited Alaska, I was quite impressed with how beautiful and true these passages seemed. I could smell the rain and feel the mist and taste the salt in the air. Vann's writing is extremely lush.

    Each story is carefully written. The characters are well-developed, the dialogue realistic but after reading the novella, I was relieved in one sense but felt totally violated in another. I won't discuss what happens within the novella, but I was so completely absorbed in it, that when I realized what had taken place, I felt a tad violated. As if someone had taken advantage of me and then left me feeling all used up.

    I grew up with parents that were/are clinically depressed. The guilt that I felt as a child over not being able to make them happy, ate me up and created scars that will never fade. It's clear that David Vann experienced much of the same pain. The guilt that a child feels over losing a parent to suicide cannot be measured. It's ongoing and overwhelming to consider. These stories clearly share that pain with us.

    Legend of a Suicide is not a fun read. It's not the kind of book to curl-up with, hot cocoa in hand, cat at your side. BUT, it's beautifully written and although haunting at times and even a bit graphic, the images have stayed with me and I would definitely recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2009

    the title catches attention. is a story? Is it real? Where did it happen? was he/she sad or successful? kids in the family?

    Alaska leads the USA in often violent suicides by high calibar rifles, 44 mags are the choices of Alaska Native males. the city males use smaller handguns or point empty guns at local police. overdose on drugs or alchol. the darknees & cold trigger these violent actions. <BR/><BR/>Read Nova by James boice on his view of the dark side of urban suicide in an affluent neighborhood.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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