#256 ~ Legends of a Suicide

Legend of a Suicide by author David Vann

Published by: HarperCollins

Published on: March, 2010

Page Count: 240

Genre: General Fiction

My Reading Format: Review copy sent from the publisher

Available Formats: Paperback, eBook

To Keep In Mind: There is a section in one of the stories that contains extremely graphic imagery that may make some readers uncomfortable.

tlc-logo-resizedToday it is my great pleasure to be David Vann’s host on his TLC Book Tour for his novel, Legend of a Suicide.

I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours.  They always have great books and authors on tour.  Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.

Synopsis from the Publisher

In semiautobiographical stories set largely in David Vann’s native Alaska, Legend of a Suicide follows Roy Fenn from his birth on an island at the edge of the Bering Sea to his return thirty years later to confront the turbulent emotions and complex legacy of his father’s suicide.

My Review

Legends of a Suicide is a collection of short stories revolving around the suicide death of a young boy’s father and its aftermath.  Given the subject matter and that I don’t typically enjoy short stories, I knew I was taking a risk when I agreed to take part in this TLC Book Tour.   What I found was that the subject matter and short story format worked well.  Roy is a young boy in early adolescence when his father commits suicide.  The stories leading up to a trip with him and his father into the Alaskan wilderness do jump around in time, but this made sense.  He was trying to piece together the story of his father’s life and what that means to him.

Despite my understanding of why the stories about living with his mother and about his father’s second ex-wife didn’t seem connected, I didn’t really connect with Roy or the book until the novella, which tells of Roys time living alone with his father in a cabin deep in the the Alaskan wilderness.  I kept wondering why in the world his mother would have allowed this to happen.  I wanted to hug Roy to myself and keep him safe while his father broke down and cried in the night, leaving Roy alone to deal with adult baggage to which no child should ever be made privy.

My heart broke for Roy and I think that is why the events that take place in the second section of the novella became too graphic for me to continue reading.  I do not want to go into much detail in this review, but is during this section that we see inside the head of Roy’s father.  It is not a pretty place and the graphic and distant way that certain things were described were too much for me.  Even if I had anticipated this turn, I don’t think I could have continued reading the novella.  It was just too real and I didn’t like the pictures that were painted inside my head.

I did finish the remaining short stories after skipping the remained of the novella, but the spell was broken because I don’t know who the novella was resolved.  I think Legend of a Suicide would have packed a tremendous punch had I been able to read it all.  My inability to read the entire book  is a credit to the author.  Gore for its own sake does not usually bother me in the way that Legend of a Suicide did.  It was because David Vann brought me in to Roy’s situation that I couldn’t stomach what was happening.  Vann is a very talented young writer and well worth the risk I took to participate in this tour.  I truly do look forward to what Vann does next.

David Vann’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

You’ve read what I think.  Why not see what others have to say?

Tuesday, May 11th:  Book Magic

Thursday, May 13th:  1330v

Friday, May 14th:  Regular Rumination

Monday, May 17th:  My Reading Room

Wednesday, May 19th:  Books Like Breathing

Tuesday, May 25th:  Book Chatter

Wenesday, May 26th:  Steph and Tony Investigate

Monday, May 31st: Nonsuch Book

Tuesday, June 1st:  Hungry Like the Woolf

Thursday, June 3rd:  Urban Green Farm


  • At 2010.05.27 08:37, Meghan said:

    I’m not sure this book is for me. Like you, I don’t enjoy short stories, and the fact that it was too difficult for you to read means I’ll probably feel the same. Maybe if the author comes out with a novel I’ll try that instead.

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    • At 2010.05.27 10:59, Ti said:

      My issue with the novella is that when it took that turn, and you know what I mean, it was like a slap in the face to me. I mean, we KNOW Roy returns when he is older so what happens in the novella is what? What could have happened IF Roy had actually spent the summer with his dad? There really wasn’t any resolution to the novella so it left me a bit confused.

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      • At 2010.05.27 16:49, Sandy said:

        That kind of freaks me out a little bit, knowing that it affected you that much. I mean, you aren’t a candy-pants by any stretch of the imagination, so that really says something. Getting through a dark book can be very hard. I found this to be the case with We Need to Talk About Kevin. I even knew what was coming, but felt like I was dragging myself to the gallows because I just couldn’t face it. I guess there is a fine line between impactful writing, and writing that you can’t stomach.

        • At 2010.05.31 13:07, Lisa said:

          Wow–I’m not sure if this is a book for me. I know it’s supposed to be good but I don’t know if I can handle it either.

          • At 2010.05.31 19:06, Frances said:

            Sorry that it was so difficult for you. It packed quite the emotional punch, and I understand why you backed away. I read somewhere that Vann’s father committed suicide two weeks after he the son declined a chance to go out and live with him. The novella appear a type of anger and release of guilt. An adult’s assessment of worst case scenario had he said yes.

            (Required, will not be published)

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