Synopses & Reviews
If you've ever owned a sailboat or had a friend who did, you know how it begins: with a dream. You dream about the ship, and gradually the dream consumes you. Practical considerations lose all meaning...until, inevitably, the dream morphs into a nightmare.
David Vann is familiar with that nightmare. His begins in Turkey: a thirty-year-old tourist, he stumbles across the steel frame of a ninety-foot sailboat that cries out to be built. From friends, family, and credit cards, he borrows the $150,000 to construct the ship. The Turkish builders take shameless advantage of him, eventually charging him over $500,000. On the edge of financial ruin, Vann starts a chartering business. But, when some new part of the ship isn't falling apart, he encounters freak storms. As his debts escalate, Vann begins to wonder if he is merely repeating his father's dreams and failures at sea which ended with his father's suicide.
At once a page-turning true story of adventure on the open ocean and an archetypal tale of one man's attempt to overcome fate and realize his dream, A Mile Down is an unforgettable story of struggle and redemption by a writer at the top of his form.
"A Mile Down would be a cautionary tale for anyone who dreams of the freedom of the high seas if only it wasnt so damn exciting." Stewart O'Nan, coauthor with Stephen King of Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season and author of The Good Wife
"At once memoir, confession, travel book, and thriller, David Vann's A Mile Down is so vivid and intense you will dread to see it end....The book is a testimony of passion and courage in deadly storms and scarier calms, of a man wrestling with his ghosts and gifts in the very shadow of paradise." Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
"A Mile Down is pure adrenaline. Vann by all rights should have died at sea, and yet he's lived to tell about it. But the thrill comes also from other kinds of risk risk of repeating his father's suicide, risk of financial disaster, risk of prosecution, risk of losing everything including who he believes himself to be. This story won't let you go." Melanie Thernstrom, author of The Dead Girl and Halfway Heaven
"A Mile Down is far more than a tale of ruin at sea. It's also a story of desire and shame, of the struggle to escape our histories and know our dreams. Vann writes that 'A life can be like a work of art, constantly melted away and reshaped,' and he shows us this reshaping, this rebirth of hope from despair and ruin, so powerfully I couldnt put the book down. You have to read this book, even if you care nothing about sailing or the sea. Just read it." Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River
"A Mile Down is a riveting and truthful account of a good man's attempt to stay afloat on treacherous waters. This book reminded me of Robert Stone's Outerbridge Reach, or John Casey's Spartina, but in many ways Vann's odyssey is more unforgettable. The fact that Vann lived to tell it is an achievement in itself." Tom Barbash, author of On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, & 9/11: A Story of Loss & Renewal
"A Mile Down is suberbly crafted. As in the great epics, the protagonist faces an unrelenting crush of disasters, bad luck, and ill will, yet picks himself up over and over to carry on....David Vann has created a tale of hubris and endurance that is both exciting and beautifully written." Keith Scribner, author of The Goodlife and Miracle Girl
"Riveting, heartbreaking, and redemptive....A Mile Down is a memoir as engaging as the most compelling of novels....This is an immensely moving and exciting book it's as if one of the heroes of A Perfect Storm had lived to write his memoirs." Julie Hilden, author of 3 and The Bad Daughter
"A Mile Down is mandatory reading for anyone who's ever flirted with thoughts of a life spent at sea." A. Manette Ansay, author of Vinegar Hill
A harrowing and heartbreaking true story of one ordinary man's misadventures at sea. At thirty years old, author David Vann builds a 90-foot charter yacht in Turkey, the ship of his dreams. But the war in Kosovo destroys his upcoming charter season, the Turkish builder takes advantage of him, and the boat begins falling apart as soon as it's launched.
Vann faces an unrelenting crush of disasters, bad luck, and ill will yet remains in good spirits and picks himself up repeatedly to carry on. A storm near Casablanca tears his rudder off, a German freighter captain endangers the crew to go for a salvage claim, and finally a freak storm in the Caribbean sinks the boat a mile down. As the author's debts escalate and his troubles multiply, he begins to wonder if he is merely repeating his father's dreams and failures at sea which ended with his father's suicide when David was thirteen.
A Mile Down is an unforgettable true story of struggle and redemption by a writer at the top of his form.
A harrowing--and heartbreaking--true story of one ordinary man's misadventures at sea.
About the Author
David Vann's work has been published in the Atlantic Monthly and other magazines and has won numerous awards. He has taught at Stanford and Cornell and currently teaches Travel and Adventure Writing online for AllLearn.org, a consortium of Oxford, Stanford, and Yale. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 200-ton Master's License and has sailed more than 40,000 miles offshore. He was born on Adak Island, Alaska, and lives now in New Zealand with his wife Nancy. He may be reached through his website at www.davidvann.com.