In Legend of a Suicide, his heartbreaking semi-autobiographical debut story-collection, David Vann relates the story of a young man trying to come to terms with the guilt and pain of his father’s suicide. The wild outback of the author’s native Alaska acts as the ideal backdrop for this collage of six stories—a novella and five shorts—and mirrors the author’s own psychological wilderness. From “an important new voice in American literature” (Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain) comes an unforgettable exploration of the tragic gaps between one boy and his father.
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“For the imagery alone and for the sentences, the book would be a treasure.”
The stories in Legend of a Suicide approach a private mythos, revisiting, reinvestigating, and reinventing one family's broken past. They also transport us to wild, uncharted places on the Alaskan coast and in the American soul. Throughout, David Vann is a generous, sure-handed guide in some very dangerous territory
“The reportorial relentlessness of Vann’s imagination often makes his fiction seem less written than chiseled. A small, lovely book has been written out of his large and evident pain.
Headlong narrative pacing, a memorable train-wreck father who gives Richard Russo's characters a run for their money, and a sure, sharp, inviting voice. So hard to put down that I am thinking of suing David Vann for several hours of lost sleep.
The most powerful, and pure, piece of writing I have read for a very long time. This book squeezes more life out of the first 100 pages than most books could manage in 1,000, which is pretty impressive, considering it's a book about death.
“The writing in these stories, informed by both the empirical and the lyrical, is heart-wrenching and gorgeous.”
“A reckoning. . . . A message of profound sympathy and sadness, anger and regret, Legend of a Suicide is the melting away of one man’s past and the reshaping of tragedy into art. . . . [It] journeys unflinchingly into darkness.”
“With Legend of a Suicide, Vann looks into the dark and isolated heart of the American soul. It is a devastating journey that is difficult to read but impossible to put down and equally impossible to forget.”
‘This is my ‘One to watch’. . . . It’s stunning, beautifully written, with genuine surprises and a complexity which makes you retrace your steps, wonder what really happened and ponder over the whole scenario for days. I loved it. It’s Richard Yates, Annie Proulx territory, and highly recommended.”
“Vengeful yet sorrowing and empathetic, plausible yet dreamlike, and completely absorbing.”
David Vann's dark and strange book twists through natural forces and compressed emotions towards an extraordinary and dreamlike conclusion. One of the most gripping debuts I've ever read.
“As primal and unforgiving as the Alaskan wilds where it’s set.”
In his portrayal of a young son's love for his lost father David Vann has created a stunning work of fiction: surprising, beautiful, and intensely moving.
“His legend is at once the truest memoir and the purest fiction. . . . Nothing quite like this book has been written before.”