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David Vann

Legend Of A Suicide

Legend Of A Suicide

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Set mostly in the wilds of Alaska; these stories take on the shifting legend of a lost father. In Ichthyology; a young boy watches his father spiral from divorce to suicide. The story is told obliquely; often through the boy's observations of his tropical fish; yet also reveals his father's last desperate moves; including quitting dentistry for commercial fishing in the Bering Sea. Rhoda goes back to the beginning of the father's second marriage and the boy's fascination with his stepmother; who has one partially closed eye. This eye becomes a metaphor for the adult world the boy can't yet see into; including sexuality and despair; which feel like the key initiating elements of the father's eventual suicide. A Legend of Good Men tells the story of the boy's life with his mother after his father's death through the series of men she dates.In Sukkwan Island; an extraordinary novella; the father invites the boy home-steading for a year on a remote island in the southeastern Alaskan wilderness. As the situation spins out of control; the son witnesses his father's despair and takes matters into his own hands. In Ketchikan; the boy is now thirty years old; searching for the origin of ruin. He tracks down Gloria; the woman his father first cheated with; and is left with the sense of 'a world held in place; as it turned out; by nothing at all.' Set in Fairbanks; where the author's father actually killed himself; The Higher Blue provides an epilogue to the collection. Winner of the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction.


Literature & Fiction





University Of Massachusetts Press


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