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Fiction - Published: 26/Apr/2012 - ISBN: 9781921922572
The year is 1985 and 22-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house with a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento. He doesn't know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother, losing her memory, has been shipped off to a nursing home. Galen and his mother survive on old family money - an inheritance that his Aunt Helen and 17-year-old cousin, Jennifer, are determined to get their hands on.
A bulimic vegetarian who considers himself an old soul, Galen is a New Age believer on a warpath towards transcendence, practising meditation, firewalking, etheric surgery and authentic movement. He yearns for transformation: to free himself from the corporeal, to be as weightless as air, to walk on water. But he's powerless to stop the manic binges that overtake him, leading him to gorge on meat and other forbidden desires, including sex. A prisoner of his body, he is obssessed with thoughts of the boldly flirtatious Jennifer, and dreams of shedding himself of the clinging mother whose fears and needs also weigh him down.
When the family takes a trip to an old cabin in the Sierras, near South Lake Tahoe, tensions come to a climax. Caught in a compromising position, Galen will discover the shocking truth of just how far he will go to attain the transcendence he craves.
David Vann was born in Alaska and comes from a family of sinkers. His father sank a new cabin cruiser in Alaska, right in the marina, by forgetting to put in the drain plug when he launched. Vann's grandfather sank an old converted Navy cruiser on a lake in California. His uncle sank the same boat twice in Idaho. Vann himself sank in the Caribbean on his honeymoon, as chronicled in his best-selling memoir, A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea. Every family has to be good at something, and Vann is hard at work continuing the tradition. Last year, he built a 52-foot aluminum trimaran for a nonstop solo circumnavigation for Esquire magazine and had to turn back because the boat was about to fold in half. He's also had run-ins with pirates in Mexico, which he wrote about for Outside magazine, and he's sailed by land from Florida to California for Men's Journal on a 'Blokart,' a tricycle with a sail (made in New Zealand, where Vann has residency). He also loves to sail the Mediterranean, and once lost a rudder off Morocco.
In Legend of a Suicide, though, Vann turns to fiction to write about the defining disaster of his life, the suicide of his father when Vann was 13. The book is the winner of the Grace Paley Prize and was named a Notable Book of 2008 by the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star
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