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Customer Review

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 February 2014
A Mile Down is the first non-fiction book by award-winning American novelist, David Vann. In it, Vann narrates the events that lead to him buying a steel boat hull in Turkey with the purpose of outfitting it to use for an educational charter business. In giving up his steady job at Stanford to take on this risky venture, Vann sees parallels to his father’s life, and later wonders if he, too, will be reduced to committing suicide when things go badly. Vann’s narration is interesting from the first page, and leads the reader through several exciting climaxes. His frustration with the various tradesmen he has to rely on is palpable, and his naïveté in entrusting his project to others whilst unable to maintain adequate vigilance over it will have readers shaking their heads in disbelief. The unscrupulousness of certain tradesmen, crew, petty officials and even rescuers will leave readers gasping, yet the generosity of family, various friends, investors and even an insurance assessor are equally amazing. Van’s prose skilfully conveys the feel of each scenario, and he is occasionally the master of understatement: “…Nancy….looked worried. I guess being fifty miles from land in thousands of feet of water at night in stormy conditions being yanked through the water at nine knots by a bunch of incompetents while we had a crack in our hull somehow gave her cause for concern.” Vann illustrates in dramatic fashion how a dream combined with reliance on others and adverse weather events can quickly lead to a downfall. He turns the story of a failed venture into a gripping page-turner.
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