About Shane Sunn
The Rev. Shane Sunn grew up in Ackerman, Mississippi surrounded by story tellers. For thirty years, Shane employed his gifts as a Presbyterian minister grabbling with words, telling stories and writing sermons. Perhaps it was inevitable he would delve into the field of writing and some of his stories would become books. Shane’s style is a curious form of Southern gothic punctuated with self-disclosure and philosophical reflections on hope for the future. Shane is privileged to share his first work, Moon and Sunn, a memoir about growing up the only son of Moon Sunn. Get in touch to discover more about his work, ask questions, and learn about his future writing endeavors.
Moon and Sunn-Memoir of a Fishing Legend and His Son
“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an “objective correlative”; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion.” -TS Eliott
I am extremely proud and excited to share my first work Moon and Sunn. The project has been a lengthy one, but this was one story that really needed to be told. You may read excerpts from the coming book in the blog tab above. Also sign up for this page if you would like notifications of new blog posts, publishing progress, etc. Thanks for your interest.
Book Life Review
“He thinks like them fish think,” author Sunn recalls hearing locals from his hometown of Ackerman, Mississippi, marvel about his father, James William “Moon” Sunn. In this striking memoir, the younger Sunn, a pastor, honors the figure that loomed so tall in Ackerman, a fisherman of great repute, in the Gulf and Alaska and the lakes that WPA projects created in Mississippi; a friend to stray dogs and stray people; the man everybody called for whenever somebody faced drowning in Choctaw Lake. The adventures of “Moon,” as the father was known, and his “all-out pursuit of fish,” make for irresistible reading, especially as Sunn often shares them in Moon’s own inimitable voice: “A boat gives you an unfair advantage,” Moon says, explaining his preference for wading when fishing for salmon. “You never feel the fish’s full power because once you hook ’em, you can just drift with ’em.”
But Moon and Sunn is a richer, more moving book than it is just a collection of excellent fish stories. Sunn notes that stories of Moon have inevitably gotten exaggerated over the years, especially around Ackerman, and in his retellings he takes pain to filet away the elements of tall-tale. That means even the wildest stories—Moon representing himself in court when accused of killing a doe illegally; Moon attempting to float his canoe 85 miles from the family home to a reservoir during Mississippi’s Easter Flood of 1979—stay refreshingly human scaled.
Touchingly, Sunn never shies away from the challenges of having a folk hero as a father, and his accounts of at times feeling isolated in the great man’s shadow, especially after Moon’s divorce from Sunn’s mother in the early 1960s, have real power. Sunn’s prose is clear and strong as a mountain stream current, and this tribute to—and reckoning with—his father will get its hook into lovers of outdoor adventure and father-son stories.
Takeaway: Rousing outdoor adventures, fish tales, and touching father-son storytelling make this memoir stand out.
Great for fans of: Luke Jennings’s Blood Knots, Dean Kuipers's The Deer Camp.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
A minister recalls the life of his father, a Mississippi fishing legend, in this debut family memoir.
Sunn grew up in the small town of Ackerman, Mississippi, in the 1960s. When he was 5, his parents divorced, and afterward, he mostly saw his father, James William “Moon” Sunn, on “sporadic weekends” whenever he was home from fishing the Kenai River in Alaska. Moon was intent on catching the “world record king salmon” and always believed that his next cast would hook him the prize. For many people of Ackerman, Moon was the “ ‘go-to’ guy” in any emergency, and Sunn tells tales of his heroics, such as saving a boy from drowning in a local lake. Such stories of Moon being “everyone else’s hero” run counter to the author’s feeling of disconnection from his dad. Sunn ably weaves in other elements of family history, recounting stories of his grandfather Mack Sunn relishing fishing and hunting before serving in World War I. At the close of the memoir, the author wrestles with the prospect of his aging father’s passing. Sunn’s portrait of his parent is engaging and wistfully poetic: “Moon is cut from a different cloth, and nothing can deter him from what he determines to do, whether death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come.” There are affecting, confessional moments when the author digs deep to reveal how he felt about his parents’ divorce: “Kids asked me sensitive questions like, ‘Do you live with your daddy or your momma?’ What that really meant was, ‘You’re not like us.’ ” Sunn also turns his attention to capturing the atmosphere of the American South and sometime offers gruesome details; following Mack’s heart attack, Sunn writes that the doctor “called for a hot iron….Before the days of defibrillators, apparently, hot irons were utilized in an attempt to jumpstart a dead heart.” The rapid-fire anecdotes result in a somewhat fragmented work, but there’s sufficient charm and intrigue in Sunn’s prose to overlook this. Overall, it’s a delightfully idiosyncratic debut.
A thoughtfully textured exploration of an unconventional father-son bond.
Pub Date: May 17, 2022
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works”