Putting My Father’s Death in Order

•A 2008 ALA Notable Book • A 2009 Ken Book Award winner, National Alliance on Mental Illness • A Washington Post Best Book of 2008

• A Boston Globe Most Memorable Title of 2008 • A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2008 • A Cleveland Plain Dealer Best Book of 2008

• A New York magazine Top Ten Book of 2008 • A Week magazine Top Ten Book of 2008 • A Top 100 Editors’ Pick on

  1. A 2008 Book Award winner

“Written in the form of an index, an acknowledgment of Wickersham's inability to frame her father's act in any conventionally linear form, this
memoir is written in a cool, economical and ultimately piercing style
utterly devoid of easy pathos or cliché. Anyone prone to facile dismissals
of the memoir as literary high art should be silenced by the perfection of
Wickersham's prose and her ability to hold the facts and her feelings up
to the light, turning them again and again to reveal yet another facet of
grief, anger, love, pity and guilt.”

                       – Laura Miller,, Salon Book Awards 2008

“An extraordinary, magical mystery tour of a book.”

                       – Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times

“Honest, brave, incredibly moving, and completely unflinching in its
honesty. It’s one of those rare books that will haunt you for a long time
after you finish it. . . . Wickersham's writing is gorgeous, restrained and
lyrical at the same time . . . [She] uses the format of an index, in an
attempt to impose an order and shape on what appears to be a chaotic,
perhaps random, act of her father's. . . . [An] amazing memoir.”

                       – Nancy Pearl, KUOW / National Public Radio

“Joan Wickersham's deceptively simple organization of this volume packs
a hard jab to the throat, and I found myself alternately holding my breath
and looking away from the words on the page in stunned silence.
Reading this book is a physical act - of beauty, of pain and of frankness.
The sections on writing and truth are some of the finest I've seen.”

                       – Kelly McMasters, Newsday

“[A] remarkable memoir. . . she exposes the whole messy territory of
inheritance, of heritage, of what our families leave us, the treacherous
trail of genetics and psychology and unhappiness, the legacy of all those
generations as they play out in ways that we can see and ways that we will never see across the patterns of our lives. . . true in a way that transcends mere recollection . . . [S]he arrives at an almost perfect balance, producing a survivor's story, a portrait of suicide from the outside, one that finds clarity in its inability to be clarified.”

                        – David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

“I read The Suicide Index with a rapacity bordering on need, with tears in my chest and in my eyes. Occasionally I had to put it down and leave the room. More often, I devoured it. The book is . . . the measured, elegant, gripping work of a professional writer who has set her powers of observation to work on her own family — her parents and grandparents, her uncle, her sister, her husband, her son — and on herself.”

                       – Laura Collins-Hughes, New York Sun

“[A] daughter's piercing and profoundly considered response to [her father’s] death. She constructs her book like a series of index cards, with chapter headings that mimic those on outlines. It becomes a brilliant choice, allowing Wickersham to flip and sort through 15 years of what William Maxwell observed when he wrote, “The suicide doesn't go alone, he takes everybody with him.” . . . Against the violent transgression of suicide, Wickersham has crafted a consummately subtle book. . . . In its discipline and art, The Suicide Index has the feel of a classic.”

                       – Karen Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer




A novel

The story of a marriage that matures only when it may be too late.

“Wickersham is a thorough, honest, and quietly magnetic novelist . . . An astute and graceful drama about the status of compassion and love in a world rich in options and ambiguity.”

                       —Booklist (starred review)

“An astute contemporary parable generating a surprising amount of empathy for her characters . . . An appealing first novel.”

                       —Los Angeles Times

“Luminous prose reminiscent of Jane Austen . . . Her writing brims with tight, imagistic glimpses into contemporary relationships.”

                       —Baltimore Sun

“Joan Wickersham writes beautifully and with excruciating honesty about marriage, the sublime and the mundane of conjugal affection, and conjugal brutality. . . arriving again and again at truth with devastating accuracy. The Paper Anniversary is eloquent about the things we cannot explain, even . . . to those we love.”   


“Wickersham fashions from the mercurial, transitory feelings and words and deeds of everyday life a story rich in subtle movement and emotion . . . A grown-up novel.”

                       —The Boston Phoenix

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