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100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do

How My Brother Disappeared

Kim Stafford (author)

Told in one hundred episodes, the story of two brothers separated by suicide and the secret pain that shadows the family of poet William Stafford  

How many tricks does it take to grow up and survive? From a beautiful childhood, the older brother disappears into depression, leaving the younger to endure the story. 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do explores memory to find a brother lost to suicide—the saint who teaches his family about depression, violence, and the ultimate quest for harmonious relationships.

Taking its title from a pamphlet Kim Stafford’s brother, Bret, ordered as a kid, 100 Tricks works its own magic in portraying two boys, close in age and inseparable in many ways, against the backdrop of an American family in the 1950s. Bret was the good older son, the obedient public servant, Kim the itinerant wanderer. Their father, poet and pacifist William Stafford, occupies a large presence in the brothers’ lives as they find their ways through boyhood shenanigans and forge identities together into adulthood and then apart, when Bret takes his own life at age forty.

This deftly written, compassionate memoir offers a paradox about family tragedy. With suicide, Stafford writes, there is collateral damage in every direction, but there is also a chance to learn vital stories behind the shadows of silence, depression, and violent death, and ultimately to recover the lost best friend. 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do takes the reader through what Stafford calls “the chrysalis of the invisible”—a tunnel of fears, silences, and tragedies—in order to find new life. 


  • Winner of 2013 Independent Publisher Book Award - Silver for Autobiography
  • Designated as Finalist - 2014 Oregon Book Awards


“The style is spare and poetic, story and reflection, moving ponderously, smoothly and touchingly back and forth across time.”

Portland Book Review

“Kim Stafford’s moving memoir of loss and guilt about the suicide of his beloved brother, Bret, at age forty is brilliantly conceived and fascinatingly written.”

World Literature Today

More reviews »
100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do cover
  • Price: $16.95 buy »
  • Pages: 216
  • Size: 5.5 x 8.25
  • Published: Sep 2012
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341365
  • Price: $16.95
  • Published: Sep 2012
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341372