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David Vann

Biographie

David Vann (1966) est un écrivain américain qui enseigne l'écriture créative à l'université de Warwick en Angleterre. Il a écrit des œuvres de fiction et de non-fiction et ses textes paraissent dans des revues comme The Atlantic et Esquire. En France, ses livres sont publiés aux éditions Gallmeister et Gallimard (traductions de Laura Derajinski).

David Vann est né en Alaska où il a connu une jeunesse difficile. Les événements de son histoire familiale forment la matière de Legend of a Suicide (2008), un recueil de nouvelles en partie autobiographiques. Il lui a fallu douze ans avant de trouver un éditeur pour ce livre. Pendant cette période, il a travaillé sur un voilier sur lequel il écrit A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea (2005).

En 2011 paraît Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter (Dernier jour sur terre, 2014), une œuvre de non-fiction dans laquelle David Vann cherche à comprendre ce qui mène un étudiant modèle à commettre une fusillade dans son université. Il publie ensuite les romans Caribou Island (Désolations, 2013) et Dirt (Impurs, 2013).

Goat Mountain (2014) est un récit troublant évoquant nos instincts les plus primitifs, les liens qui nous unissent les uns aux autres et les conséquences des actes que nous commettons. Son livre le plus récent est le roman Aquarium (2015).

L'œuvre de David Vann a été récompensée de nombreuses fois, notamment par le Prix Médicis étranger, le Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction et le Prix des Lecteurs de L'Express. Ses livres ont été traduits dans plus de vingt langues, parmi lesquelles le français, le néerlandais, l'espagnol, le danois, le chinois et le coréen.

 

Photo © Diana Matar

 

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Texte d'Auteur

Dear Cormac,

I've met hundreds of writers around the world, but I know I'm never going to meet you. Very sad, because I think Blood Meridian is the greatest American work ever written. I've read it six times, and all your other works, and I have questions. One is how you went from that earlier draft that the Texas archives have now to the final version. Such an enormous difference. The early draft is something I almost could have written, or at least I can see those sentences are possible. The final is far beyond my reach as a writer and, in the first read, was beyond my reach even as a reader. I wondered about fakery and had to read several more times to be convinced. I ask because I'm not able to revise. My novel Goat Mountain is published the same as the first draft, with only a few line edits, and I wonder if I'm missing some way to turn each work into something better.
I teach Blood Meridian to my students, and I wonder whether you would think that what I say is bullshit. I tell them you're not a dramatist, not writing from a dramatic tradition, and that you can't do the inside lives of characters, or women, or believable dramatic interaction. But I tell them Blood Meridian does something very unusual, skipping the dramatic plane and going directly into theme, through landscape description that extends into figurative landscapes, as when you write about mountains "whose true geology was not stone but fear." This development of theme through extension of landscape is a long American literary tradition, rural and regional, the greatest and most important America literary tradition despite what New York thinks, and I imagine you've felt frustrated by New York and by seeing idiocies such as Franzen on the cover of Time as the great American novelist while you're still alive. Frustrating also to have everyone read The Road instead of Blood Meridian.

But I want to know your response, not just what I imagine. I want to know what it's like to have written your greatest work more than 30 years ago. What does that make writing for you now? And what was it like to have no competitor, to be so much better than any other writer at that time, despite Morrison's Beloved being voted above Blood Meridian? And would you agree that The Road is thin and offers only melodrama, not drama, and relies unbelievably on coincidence at the end, when they find the ones who might be the good people just as he's dying? Would you agree that No Country For Old Men makes a great movie but fails as a novel because you can't do stream of consciousness? Would you agree All The Pretty Horses is wounded by the young woman not being so believable? I ask because I do believe you're the greatest and I want to also see your limitations clearly and I wonder how you think of them.

I do believe the writing you've given us is the greatest gift and teacher possible, and that no conversation or even longer association could provide anything as important, but it's just that you've said so little in interviews and left such a void. It drives me crazy that you're still alive but so unreachable. You'll be dead soon and it'll be too late. I hope you'll at least consider writing more about your work before you leave. It would be nice to know what you thought.

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19.10.15 > 23.11.15

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