Host Francesca Rheannon talks with writer Joan Wickersham about her powerful new memoir, [amazon-product text=”THE SUICIDE INDEX: Putting My Father’s Death in Order” type=”text”]0156033801[/amazon-product]. Also, we talk with Jennet Conant about [amazon-product text=”THE IRREGULARS: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington” type=”text”]0743294599[/amazon-product].
Sixteen years ago, Joan Wickersham’s father got up one morning from the bed he shared with his wife, walked into his study, and shot himself. He left no note. Why did he do it? How could he, a loving father and husband, subject his family to the anguish of dealing with losing him in such a violent manner? These unanswerable questions fueled Wickersham’s search to reconcile her the father she knew with the man who killed himself. As she writes in her powerful new memoir, THE SUICIDE INDEX, “When you kill yourself, you kill every memory everyone has of you. You’re saying “I’m gone and you can’t even be sure who it is that’s gone, because you never knew me.”
Wickersham puts her father’s death in order through an ingenious narrative construction. Under headings about suicide like “anger about”, “other people’s stories about”, “possible ways to talk to a child about”, Wickersham explores all the facets of coming to terms with her father’s suicide.THE SUICIDE INDEX is a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. You can read an excerpt here. And scroll down for the extended interview with Joan Wickersham.
Roald Dahl is best known as a wildly successful writer of children’s books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. But before he wrote books for kids, he was a British spy in Washington DC during the Second World War. Dashing and handsome, he used his charm to invade the upper reaches of the U.S. government and Georgetown society. There he won friends and influenced politicians to back the British war effort–and sabotaged those who were less enthusiastic about the war. And Dahl cut his budding literary teeth on writing colorful propaganda pieces– published in leading American popular magazines — that helped to gain public support for the war.
Jennet Conant is the author of the 2002 New York Times bestseller Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II. Now she continues her fascination with the lesser known corners of America’s involvement in that war with her new book, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington.