about a mountain, by john d’agato

“Well of course people are paranoid about suicide here,” Ron Flud explained in the County Coroner’s Office. “I mean, it’s in business, it needs tourists. Every resident’s bread and butter is based on this city’s image. And suicide doesn’t sell.”

Spoiler: it’s not actually about a mountain.

Imagine if Hunter Thompson and Joan Didion had a lovechild who became fascinated with the disposal of nuclear waste by way of Martin Amis’s Night Train.

“I think everyone’s a lot more comfortable,” Ron said, “if we keep a low profile here. Suicide is the most threatening thing we can encounter as a culture. It’s a manifestation of doubt, the ultimate unknowable. A suicide by someone we know – or even by someone we don’t know – is a reminder that none of us has the answers. So apply that to a city with the nation’s most frequent suicides and you might start to understand this city’s reluctance to talk about it.”

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