David Vann is a writer of dark contemporary fiction – and nautica extrema. enjoyable interview and can be heard in full here. It was a most His latest book to be published in Australia is A Mile Down; the true story of a disastrous career at sea. It is a terrible and true tale of disaster after disaster that befalls Vann and a beautiful yacht. Vann is a sailor and his love of it is palpable, not only in his book, but the way he speaks about it. “The only thing that can keep me up all night is not thinking about writing a book or anything related to literature or love, it is thinking about the shape of a hull.”
He is currently translating Beowulf from Old English and discusses the mythic memory of language. Daily, he immerses himself in Latin and Old English. In a lot of his early fiction he draws from the suicide of his father, beginning with his first, grueling novel ‘Memory of a Suicide.’
In this interview you can hear him speak Old English and tell us why“jokey” Moby Dick is his favourite book of the sea. He talks about the mistakes his German translator found in his prose and he ponders the influence of islands on our lives, our geographical trappings. “I spend most of my time on islands, I love them.”
He talks about his early literary influence from Westerns and the fact that he’s read Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian six times. “I think literary influence is a mostly unconscious thing it is about immersion and loving something and re-reading over and over. I don’t think any of us are original as writers, I think we are all derivative of the works we have loved.”
At the time of the interview, he was reading Richard Flanagan’s latest book, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which he was finding amazing. “He is definitely one of my literary heroes.”
This blog post is dedicated to my fabulous colleague Marg.
A Mile Down; the true story of a disastrous career at sea
This interview was first broadcast on Edge Radio on February 2, 2014