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Legend of a Suicide by David Vann

Legend of a Suicide (original 2008; edition 2008)

by David Vann

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3112335,978 (3.76)29
Title:Legend of a Suicide
Authors:David Vann
Collections:Your library
Tags:Short Stories, E-Book

Work details

Legend of a Suicide by David Vann (2008)

  1. 00
    Breath by Tim Winton (1Owlette)
  2. 00
    Nothing by Paul Morley (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: Both are books where the author writes about his father's suicide.

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English (16)  Dutch (4)  Danish (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Sorry I read this book. Language was disconnected and it was hard to follow the story. ( )
  jamesfallen | Feb 7, 2014 |
This is simply an excellent combination of fine writing, wonderfully-drawn characters, a setting strong enough to be counted as another character, and a storyline that involves twisted people circling death. This was Vann's first published work, and is in the form of several short stories and one rather long story that take place in Alaska and include much that is autobiographical. I always find myself surprised and impressed, sometimes repulsed and shocked, but I will always return for more of Vann's writing.

Months ago we got a chance to see him speak at Moe's Books, when he was touring for his excellent, and also twisted novel, Dirt. He had some friends, and maybe relatives in the crowd, and, with them there, and some questions from readers wondering about how autobiographical his fiction is, he was most uneasy talking about how he depicted his mother in Dirt, and I'm sure the same unease would have stalked the room if anyone had brought up the father figure in Legend of a Suicide. His father did live in Alaska, David was born there, and the title's suicide is a reference to his dad's death by his own hand with a .44 Magnum. There are many trouble people in his writing. They all ring true as people, and they act completely unpredictable (like much of life) at times of ultimate stress — it always makes for some damn gripping reading.

Several of the other short stories in Legend also grab a hold of you, but the long one, Sukkwan Island, is really developed, and you really get into the man and the son's disjointed relationship as they struggle to survive the harsh climate of their remote and crude cabin in Alaska. You think things are coming to a head ... and then they pull through another hardship ... and then it all goes to hell. You end up with one person alone, with a very thin connection to any reality, and you don't hold out much hope.

Vann portrays a crazed mind on paper as good as anyone ever has. He's a writer that you want to be disturbed by. ( )
  jphamilton | Aug 10, 2013 |
Awful sentence structure.
  evforija | Oct 10, 2012 |
Despite the grim topic, I found this book a gripping read, particularly the second story. This is more of an adventure in the Alaskan wilderness. The author portrays well the feelings of desparation and anxiety and there is an unexpected twist as he explores the reasons behind suicide. There is an element of acceptance of life and death in the final segment. ( )
  HelenBaker | Nov 23, 2011 |
This is less a novel, and not even really a collection of short stories. Mainly narrated by a character named Roy, at different stages in his life, it is really a series of snapshots about Roy’s father’s suicide when Roy was a young boy, the events that led up to his father taking his own life, and the lasting effects it had on Roy, Sandwiched in the middle is a longer story (about 165 pages) about an ill fated plan for Roy and his father to spend a year living on a very remote Alaskan island. About two thirds of the way through this story is a twist that was so surprising that I had to re-read it to make sure I had seen the words correctly. This twist didn’t fit in with the other stories at all, and actually confused me until I realised what the author was doing.

On the positive side, some of the writing in the book is eloquent and almost beautiful. Other reviewers have likened it to the writing of Cormac McCarthy and I can see the comparison, although I certainly prefer McCarthy’s work. However, as good as the writing is, I just felt that I could not connect with this book on any level, and actually looked forward to when I could finish it and put it down. While I can certainly see how the longer story set on the remote island could pack a punch for some readers, I felt that maybe I was missing the point, and actually almost gave up on reading it (it was the only the fact that I hate not finishing any book once I’ve started that made me press on).

I hope that writing the book may have been cathartic for the author, whose own father committed suicide when David Vann was a young boy. But for me, something just didn’t click, and all I was left with after finishing the book was relief that it was finished, and a general feeling of malaise. It’s clear from other reviews I’ve read that some readers felt very moved by this story and it had a profound effect on some people. Unfortunately, that certainly is not the case with me. I’d probably hesitate to recommend this to anyone, but if someone did want to read it, I’d suggest that they have something lighthearted on hand to read afterwards. ( )
1 vote Ruth72 | Jun 27, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Moving, readable and often bleakly funny, it deserves to find a wide and enthusiastic readership. Its UK publisher's comparisons with the likes of Wolff and Richard Ford aren't, for once, misplaced.
Vann goes beyond such distinctions. His legend is at once the truest memoir and the purest fiction. You need to know it is based on facts to understand just how far he has gone in creating a new reality. But you also need to remain ignorant of the fictional surprise he has in store, so that it can hit you with the full force of new knowledge. Nothing quite like this book has been written before.
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For my father, James Edwin Vann, 1940-1980
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My mother gave birth on Adak Island, a small hunk of rock and snow far out on the Aleutian chain, at the edge of the Bering Sea.
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Sukkwann Island correspond à une nouvelle du recueil Legends of a Suicide. Merci de ne pas combiner ces deux œuvres.
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Set mostly in the wilds of Alaska, the stories featured in this book take on the shifting legend of a lost father. It features the story 'Ichthyology', where a young boy watches his father spiral from divorce to suicide.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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