What about William Vollmann?

So … where does everybody stand on William Vollmann?

I hadn’t read him until recently, when I picked up a copy of Expelled From Eden, a greatest-hits set apparently designed to make Vollmann’s famously sinewy and labyrinthine writing palatable for normal people.

I’ve read about 1/10 of what’s there so far, and my feelings are mixed. He can certainly turn out a sparkling sentence, and I also like his focus on mankind’s inherent violence and depravity. His two main obsessions seem to be global war and prostitution, though I’m really not sure what the connection is between the two subjects.

I’m going to keep reading, but I’m already turned off by the back cover blurb that calls Vollmann a future Nobel Prize winner. Why? He hasn’t fully won my vote yet … in fact I’m not even sure I’m going to keep reading the book. I’d like to know if anybody else has any opinions on this guy.

3 Responses

  1. Wellif I had to stand on
    Well

    if I had to stand on William Vollmann, I’d probably, I’d probably stand on his right foot.

    I’ve read a couple essays of his over time. I remember them being okay. You Bright and Risen Angels is a pretty cool title for a book, as is Rising Up and Rising Down, but both of them are really long (multi-volume in the case of the latter). His Seven Dreams cycle intrigues me, but again, long.

  2. I agree, Shamatha. He has
    I agree, Shamatha. He has great titles and great concepts. I think one of the books you mentioned, Rising Up and Rising Down is supposedly a diagrammatic philosophical study of human violence. And, yeah, long. I’m intrigued by the concept. But are you gonna read it? I’m not gonna read it …

  3. The MethodI don’t really
    The Method

    I don’t really stand anywhere on William Vollmann — from what I’ve seen so far, he doesn’t sound like someone I’d want to get close enough to stand on. Well maybe close enough to knee him in the groin …

    I first began writing that my female characters were very weak and unconvincing. What is the best way to really improve that? I thought, Well, the best way is to have relationships with a lot of different women. What’s the best way to do that? It’s to pick up whores. — William Vollmann

    Everyone has a method, I suppose.

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