Legend of a Suicide
By David Vann
Here’s the blurb from the publisher:
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.
The Short of It:
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 read.
The Rest of It:
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.
To visit David Vann’s website, click here.
To view Vann’s other TLC tour stops, click here.
Source: A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour and to the publisher, for providing me with a review copy of the book.