by David Vann

:  Avalon/Thunders Mouth

Pub Date:  June, 2005

Format:  Trade Paperback original

Brief Description:
          An American travels to Turkey to fulfill his dream of building a boat and sailing the world.  But he is lured in by the Turks and soon finds himself $500,000 in debt, and worse, deep at sea in a boat which is falling apart.  A MILE DOWN tells the story of his travails in trying to stay alive, save his boat, fight the sea, the elements, his debtors and one calamity after another, as he tries to follow in his father's footsteps.  Reminiscent of A MIDNIGHT EXPRESS.

#7 Los Angeles Times bestseller

“A Mile Down would be a cautionary tale for anyone who dreams of the freedom of the high seas--if only it wasn't so damn exciting.”
--Stewart O’Nan
co-author with Stephen King of Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season and author of The Night Country

“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 and Brave Enemies


“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, and the writing is perfect. It never gets in the way, but on reflection you realize that even the most unexpected things appeared uncommonly beautiful.”
--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 a story, also, 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 couldn’t 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 superbly 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. And what shapes this struggle is the question of whether he is persisting through his own will or through obedience to a dead father who had similar struggles at sea. 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 The Perfect Storm had lived to write his memoirs.”
--Julie Hilden, author of 3 and The Good Daughter

“Mandatory reading for anyone who’s ever flirted with thoughts of a life spent at sea.”
--A. Manette Ansay, author of Vinegar Hill and Midnight Champagne

“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 The Last Good Chance and On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, & 9/11: A Story of Loss &Renewal

Full Description:
While traveling in Turkey, 30 year old David Vann stumbles across the frame of a 90-foot yacht. A man of the sea, he falls in love. Despite already being deep in debt, he promises to buy the $150,000 boat, and somehow, even finds a way to raise the money. But the Turks find in David an unsuspecting American. They lure him in deeper and deeper, and eventually present him with construction bills amounting to another $450,000. To make matters worse, the boat is cheaply and horribly constructed, and when he gets far into the ocean, it begins to fall apart.
     Undeterred, David evades storms and shipwreck, and raises loan upon loan to fix the boat. He manages to again get it out into the ocean. But trouble and disastrous luck plague him at every turn. When some new facet of the boat is not falling apart, he is met by freak storms at sea. As his debts escalate and his troubles worsen, Vann is left to wonder if he is merely repeating the legacy of his own father’s dreams and failures at sea—which ended in his father’s suicide when David was 13.
     A MILE DOWN is memoir at its best, with both a compelling plot and written by a finely skilled craftsman. David Vann has been published in The Atlantic, holds writing degrees from Stanford and Cornell. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford, and has taught more than 50 courses in creative writing at Stanford, Cornell, San Francisco State, and abroad. His teachers, colleagues and writing friends include Grace Paley, Tobias Wolff, Junot Diaz, Adrienne Rich, Stephanie Vaughn, Robert Morgan, John L’Heureux, Frances Mayes, Stewart O’Nan, Melanie Thernstrom, Julie Orringer, Ryan Harty, Tom Barbash, Keith Scribner, Jason Brown, Julie Hilden, Simone DiPiero, Kenneth Fields, Michelle Carter, and at leat a dozen others. He also holds a US Coast Guard 200 ton Master’s License and has sailed more than 30,000 miles offshore. 
     A MILE DOWN is sure to mark the debut of a major new writer.

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