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Paperback A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea Book

ISBN: 1560257105

ISBN13: 9781560257103

A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea

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Book Overview

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,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Couldn't put it down!

From start to finish I was immersed in this book. I too own a business and could relate to the hardship's he was experiencing. He's now one of my favorite author's.

Ctitique of critics

Criticism of "A Mile Down" seems to focus not on the writing or subject matter, which is universally accepted as excellent and engaging, but on the author himself and his character. This seems odd to me. Hemingway is no less a great author because of his many defects of character. The book is a great read for anyone - sailor or no. I ate it like candy in a few days. Like others, I wished it would not end. I was inspired by the author's resilience, educated by the mistakes, and horrified by the dark side of human nature it revealed. Anyone who has sailed in a storm will understand. Of the critics of the author's judgment, it is easy to play armchair second-guesser from the comforts of a stable, warm, dry and probably quietly desperate life. Hindsight is always 20/20, Monday morning quarterback, and all that. What I see in this book is one who, living in a glass house, throws stones at that house, and critics' complaints about the author's character ring of jealousy that they themselves haven't dared to take their best shot at their own houses. So they complain that the author's choice of stone is flawed. Horse hockey. I deeply identified with the author. I too am a hard worker, a dreamer, a sailor, and one not content to settle for second best. I also am like the author in that I make many mistakes. I think our saving grace is the ability to learn from our experiences and remain afloat, buoyed by optimism and an abiding belief that the exceptional can be acheived. Of course there are mistakes made. That all the ills that befall David Vann are ultimately his "fault" is without question, since had he chosen to remain safely on shore, his boat would never have sunk with him in it. So is the lesson "stay ashore?" Absolutley not. The lesson, at least for me, is: adversity is not a reason to hide from your dreams. It is an opportunity to advance them, wiser from the the experience. This book is a fresh parable evincing an age-old truth - that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Two exhilarating reads later...

and I'm a bit worried to go out on my own sailboat! The way David brings readers along on the journeys is brilliant. I'm looking forward to his next novels making it down to New Zealand.

Drowning out a shout

Near the end of A Mile Down, an angry charter agent shouts, "I am ashamed of the name David Vann." By then, the reader has arrived at an understanding of Vann that causes the hateful shout to fall on deaf ears. David Vann's memoir puts the reader at his side for two years as he pursues his dream of owning and operating a 90-foot sailboat. From Vann's words and actions, the reader becomes acquainted with a dreamer and a doer. No one is more critical of Vann than Vann himself. Yet, time after time, friends and associates come to his aid, freely giving of time, talent, and money. It is the cumulative sound of these silent voices that drowns out the shout of the charter agent. David Vann is somebody . . . somebody whose dream can be embraced. His craft (the sailboat) goes a mile down in a freak storm, while his craft (as a writer) allows him to go a mile down to discover enough truth about himself to sail again.

David Vann's "A Mile Down"

Why do men go down to the sea in ships? The power of the ocean has long compelled men to go, hearing in the windy sea a siren offering the secrets of fame, sustenance, fortune, romance. Author David Vann went down to the sea to forge a career, to free himself forever from "the endless treadmill of middle-class labor." To accomplish his dream, Vann commissioned a sleek sailing ship in Turkey and sold educational charters to ancient ports in the Mediterranean Sea. He then embarked on a voyage so riddled with misfortune and danger it could only exist in another man's nightmares -- his ship is hopelessly flawed. But when his boat sinks, "A Mile Down" in the Caribbean, David Vann finds the key to a mystery that has haunted him for many years. "A Mile Down" is more than an adventure story; it is a memoir of discovery and reconciliation written to inspire even confirmed landlubbers. If you read only one book this summer, make that one book "A Mile Down."
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