The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order

Joan Wickersham, Author . Harcourt $25 (316p) ISBN 978-0-15-101490-3

In spare prose, Wickersham (The Paper Anniversary ) has produced an artful and vivid memoir. Within the index of “suicide,” she has found a form capacious enough for both intimate detail and general information; cold data and lyric moments; for mystery and for consolation. As she follows her father's suicide chronologically from his death through a passage of 15 years, she doubles back through family history (her mother's, her father's, her husband's), telling the story under such subheads as “anger about,” “other people's stories about,” “possible ways to talk to a child about,” “romances of mother in years following.” Her search takes in matters as mundane as the police investigation, as academic as the nature of biography and as disquieting as the issue of suicide. The elementary facts—when, where, and how—are straightforward, even simple: “My father got up early one morning, went into his study, and shot himself,” but her pursuit of “why” leads Wickersham and her reader into the “unanswerable questions [and] unresolvable paradoxes” that give her book classic qualities. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-15-603380-0
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-547-35074-5
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