The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order
When you kill yourself, you kill every memory everyone has of you. You’re saying “I’m gone and you can’t even be sure who it is that’s gone, because you never knew me.”
Sixteen years ago, Joan Wickersham’s father shot himself in the head. The father she loved would never have killed himself, and yet he had. His death made a mystery of his entire life. Using an index—that...more
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Wickersham is a married mother when her 61-year-old father shoots himself. Wickersham spends the rest of this book-and beyond-trying to make some sense of this act and her own feelings about it. Was it foreseeable? preventable? is someone-her father, her mother, anyone-to blame or wa ...more
so much of this is brilliant - from the questions of how even to write the book, to the difference between a biographer and a memoirist, to the emotions on every page.
set up as an index, literally, the story can't stay chronological. you know her father died, and how, but then she leads us through the painful agony of surviving a suicide, e ...more
“In the airport, coming home from vacation, he stops at a kiosk and buys grapefruits, which he arranges to have sent to his daughters. They will stumble over the crates waiting on their porches, when they get home from his funeral.”
Thus opens this stark and haunting memoir, written in prose that surrounded me like clear clean water.
If the best books tell truth the best, then this memoir climbs to the top of the pile SUICIDE INDEX doesn’t necessarily tell universal truths, or even grand lofty tr ...more
Wickersham is writing about an issue--her father's suicide--that she has only partially worked through. A shorter piece might have been fine for that kind of unfinished emotional work, but a whole book is too long ...more
This is a book about her father's suicide, the act ...more
Recently, I've become obsessed with missing persons cases, fascinated by the idea that someone could go missing or leave with only small traces of the person they were left behind. When I first picked this book up, I didn't quite grasp the connection between Wickersham's father's confirmed suicide and the concept of the missing ...more
Wickersham writes like a writer's writer (reminded me of Richard Yates in that respect). At first, I struggled through the first quarter of the book - not that it wasn't interesting, but it w ...more
I completely agree that this is a horrible title. But I suppose she wanted it to be blunt. And I put it down after the first page about five times, saying, "Nope, I'm not reading this." But very quickly, once I gave it a chance, it became her story, and so less uncomfortable. The moments of universal resonance - the moments that might tap into the reader's own very personal and potentially difficult thoughts about and experiences with suicide (and there ar ...more
Very insightful and thought-provoking on points such as how killing yourself kills everyone else's memories/scrip ...more