Deborah Biancotti's Reviews > Legend of a Suicide

Legend of a Suicide by David Vann
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May 31, 11

Read from May 26 to 31, 2011

"An author more haunted by paternal amputation would be difficult to imagine. A sadder book about fathers and sons would be impossible to imagine."

So says the New York Times Sunday Book Review (

Vann here collects 5 short stories & a novella, all relating to his father, all exploring Vann's relationship to his father and his relatiionship to his father's death. Some of these are fiction, since we know from a study of Vann's own life that his father suicided when he was a teenager. Some of these may or may not be true, such as Vann's trip back to his Alaskan home town. The writing is beautiful -- and relentlessly, heart-breakingly sad. Vann drives home the damage that damaged fathers can do. The nights spent on the floor listening to his father cry and berate himself for his crying worked such a dark magic that the young Vann's desperate solution felt shocking and yet purely inevitable.

I admit, though, that I almost lost interest after the dark 'wish fulfillment' of the central novella. In a way, the novella turns the tables so powerfully that the rest then felt kind of ... meandering. But the attention to detail is so compelling and the pacing so confident, so *relentless* that I kept reading.

And the quest of the book -- the search for a father, for the reality of that lost man, for a meaning to the very label 'father' -- finds a kind of conclusion (if not a satisfaction) by the end.

Wow. What a wonderful writer.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by John (new)

John Thanks. I'll look out for this.

Deborah Biancotti John wrote: "Thanks. I'll look out for this."

Cool! :) It's good.

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