Journey to the end of the night is a literary symphony of cruelty and violence that hurtles through the improbable travels of the petit bourgeois and largely autobiographical antihero, bardamu. He attended public high school in bloomington, indiana, and. After all, one of lifes best pleasures is reading a book of perfect beauty. A winner of the national book award and a finalist for the national book critics circle award, vollmann is considered one of the most insightful writers in. The characters are dark and gloomy, and the incidents related are even darker and gloomier. Twentythree years in the writing, the work probes the root causes and moral justifications of violence in human society, and examines such topics as torture. Poor people struggles to confront poverty in all its hopelessness and brutality, its pride and abject fear, its fierce misery and quiet resignation, allowing the poor to explain the causes and consequences of their impoverishment in their own cultural, social, and religious terms. Vollmann joins us to share firsthand accounts of the fallout from these disasters, bringing excerpts from his newest book no. Vollmann, who won a national book award in 2005, has written a novel of incredible significance and power. When he was nine years old, vollmann s sixyearold sister drowned in a pond while under his. Vollmanns magisterial novel the dying grass tells the story of the nez perce war of 1877 and its dismal aftermath. In other words, i zoned out after the first few sentences he read.
A mixture of fiction and nonfiction, this book was drawn from vollmann s experiences traveling around the world. And at 1,300 pages, the book checks in as a heroic attempt to help us understand a vast region near the. He won the 2005 national book award for fiction for the novel europe central. Vollmann, a business professor at indiana university. Jul 30, 2015 william vollmanns the dying grass is the reading experience of a lifetime. This is a mustread book for any vollmann fan and also a mustread for anyone interested in getting to know his work for the first time. Vollmann offers a collection of ghost stories linked by themes of love, death, and the erotic. The atlas is a 1996 semiautobiographical work by american novelist william t. Hes traveled with the mujahideen in afghanistan in the early 1980s, smoked crack with prostitutes in the. Vollmanns massive volume wants to be about that and everything else, including a few dozen holdthatthought pages on the founding of the jesuit movement by ignatius of loyola. William vollmann returns to the tenderloin with another.
Vollmann is the author of seven novels, three collections of stories, and a sevenvolume critique of violence, rising up and rising down. Europe central earned its national book award by being concerned with some of the most important issues of the 20th century and by deftly juggling so much historical fact, art theory, and fictional fancy. Vollmann, who had been churning out thick, conceptually audacious books faster than new york publishing could keep pace. He won the 2005 national book award for fiction for europe central. Vollmann focuses his attention on the most tragic circumstances of the middle decades of. Lets talk about your writing process, your creative process. Apr 11, 2014 the obvious answer is europe central which is a great choice as it has so many of the elements that make vollmann great and was properly recognized as a major work with its national book award win. Both vollmanns fiction and nonfiction range across vast territories. Fbi suspected william vollmann was the unabomber the. Jan 01, 2008 europe central earned its national book award by being concerned with some of the most important issues of the 20th century and by deftly juggling so much historical fact, art theory, and fictional fancy.
Vollmann is a writer of obsessions, and this study concentrates on three of themfreedom, redemption, and prostitutionwhile arguing that the author that dwells on them is. Vollmann is a man of many words, most of them about his favorite subjects prostitutes, drugs, violence jane ganahl, chronicle staff writer published 4. William tanner vollmann born july 28, 1959 is an american novelist, journalist, war correspondent, short story writer, and essayist. Heralded as one of americas most intrepid fictional frontiersmen publishers weekly, william t. Vollmanns books tower over the work of his contemporaries by virtue of their enormous range, huge ambition. Vollmann and more from penguin random house books by william t. Vollmanns europe central demands respect as a serious and sober historical novel. I just dont get how this is a problem unless youre trying to complete a set and want them to look the same, i get that. Vollmann reader, edited by larry mccaffery and michael hemmingson, i can safely say that vollmann is merely a bad nay, a very bad writer, but not a terrible one, for, unlike wallace, vollmann is at least capable of writing solid, passable prose in journalistic articles, even as his fictive prose is. Teeming with patterns, facts, stories, people and hope, this is an epic study of an emblematic region. Vollmann, author of the national book award winner europe central watch for vollmanns new work of nonfiction, no immediate danger, coming in april of 2018 in this magnificent new work of fiction, his first in nine years, celebrated author william t.
Having written more than two dozen mostly very long books, he is five large. Called a cross between william burroughs and thomas pynchon, he explores the dark margins of society with a rare and ferocious imagination. The book includes scenes from the modern north william the blind, as i say, holds the long view and in fathers and crows we see champlains travels against vollmann s own visits to 20thcentury montreal where, of course, he meets prostitutes. He won the national book award the same year as joan didion. The book covers 19141975, most of the composer dmitri dmitriyevich. Vollmann was nursing a cold, so he made himself comfortable on a couch in front of the fireplace in the living room of his land park home. This first ever booklength critical study traces his career to date with chapters devoted to each of his novels, as well as his short stories and major nonfiction. Vollmann a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, this book was drawn from vollmanns experiences traveling around the world. Sep 16, 2014 vollmanns massive volume wants to be about that and everything else, including a few dozen holdthatthought pages on the founding of the jesuit movement by ignatius of loyola. Vollmann, in other words, always writes the book he wants to write. Vollmann is the author of ten novels, including europe central, which won the national book award.
With intense compassion and a scrupulously unpatronizing eye. Aug 21, 20 a winner of the national book award and a finalist for the national book critics circle award, vollmann is considered one of the most insightful writers in the world on the subject of violence and. William vollmann is, in my opinion, the david blaine of literature. Vollmanns europe central, 811 pages in my penguin trade paperback edition including end notes, is a virtuoso attempt to describe or measure or assess or explain or analyze the eastern front of wwii, a part of the war that in my american ignorance i know, or knew no, know so little about. Brilliant and prolific, with some 25 books to date including europe central which won the national book award for fiction, william t. I have tried hard, so very hard, to appreciate william vollmann, a wildly original postmodernist obsessed with history and human aggression who is considered a great intellect by several people i respect. Vollmann, who burst onto the crowded late twentieth century literary scene and showed that there was still something new to say, spent the first five years of his life in santa monica. William tanner vollmann is an american novelist, journalist, war correspondent, short story writer, and essayist. I recently called vollmann who doesnt own a cellphone or use email at his hotel in new york city while he was on his book tour. An interview with creative nonfiction writer william t. Vollmanns most recent work is the nonfiction book uncentering the earth atlas booksw. He has also written four collections of stories, including the atlas, which won the pen center usa west award for fiction, a memoir, and six works of nonfiction, including rising up and rising down and imperial, both of which were finalists for the national book critics circle award. Vollmann, 9783518465165, available at book depository with free delivery worldwide. In his newest novel, he takes what may be his most daring tour of this world of harrowing, essential truths.
More memorable yet was the manuscripts author, william t. If one or more works are by a distinct, homonymous authors, go ahead and split the author. He attended public high school in bloomington, indiana, and has also lived in new hampshire, new york, and the san francisco bay area. Educated at deep springs college, cornell university, and the university of california at berkeley. Vollmann turns his trenchant eye on the authoritarian cultures of germany and the ussr in the twentieth century to render a mesmerizing perspective on human experience during wartime. Vollmann is known for going to extremes to research his subjects. Vollmann has won the whiting foundation award and the shiva naipaul memorial award for his fiction. Riding toward everywhere, an examination of the trainhopping hobo lifestyle.
Jul 23, 2014 the first was the publication of the opening volume of vollmanns proposed meganovel, seven dreams. Apr 19, 2018 i recently called vollmann who doesnt own a cellphone or use email at his hotel in new york city while he was on his book tour. The author, most recently, of the dying grass says the deader the author, the. In 2003, vollmann was a national book critics circle award finalist for nonfiction for his magnum opus, a massive sevenvolume work on the history of violence, rising up and rising down. Vollmann introduces carbon ideologies, his new twovolume exploration of the causes and consequences global warming. And some people think hes a lock to win the nobel prize for literature. I hung out with vollmann at his hotel room at the rex on post st.
He relates these experiences through 53 interconnected stories that weave their way through the novel. He is also the author of poor people, a worldwide examination of poverty through the eyes of the impoverished themselves. Vollmann has won the whiting foundation award and the shiva naipaul memorial. Vollmann s 12th book of fiction, europe central almost a novel in stories is his most welcoming work, possibly his. This book, says william the blind, is the story of how the black gowns and the iroquois between them conquered the huron people. The first was the publication of the opening volume of vollmanns proposed meganovel, seven dreams. The vollmann club is an online collaborative effort to read all of william t. His next is the lucky star, a novel about the limitations of desire and life at the margins. Hes traveled with the mujahideen in afghanistan in the early 1980s, smoked crack with prostitutes in. A book of north american landscapes, which had its genesis, naturally enough, in vollmanns. Vollmann has won admirers for his unique voice and dedication to journalistic immediacy. Participating sites include black market kidneys, conversational reading, the happy booker, rakes progress, and return of the reluctant. Our conversation, lightly edited for clarity, appears.
Vollmanns 12th book of fiction, europe central almost a novel in stories. In our interview for this series, vollmann discussed a short, paradoxical aphorism from the 11thcentury cult figure, hassani. Ive eagerly bought his thick, intimidating books, and i have put in solid time trying to read them. Norton, 2006, which examines the discoveries of copernicus and the transition from an era in which humans could conceptualize their lives as the center of a perfectly ordered universe to our modern cosmology in which the earth orbits the sun. The obvious answer is europe central which is a great choice as it has so many of the elements that make vollmann great and was properly recognized as a major work with its national book award win. William vollmanns the dying grass is the reading experience of a lifetime. Now she is reading or has just read the scene with the mirrors. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, exploring polluted rivers and guarded factories and talking with everyone from mexican migrant workers to border patrolmen.
And at 1,300 pages, the book checks in as a heroic attempt to help us understand a vast region near the mexican border that many of us in. A book of north american landscapes, which had its. Vollmann is a complex and innovative novelist and journalist who has often mixed the two genres, and who often. Celines masterpiececolloquial, polemic, hyper realisticboils over with bitter humor and revulsion at societys idiocy and hypocrisy.944 138 1050 601 1218 125 3 709 881 836 512 342 1160 1411 114 1129 1380 951 686 630 1046 978 201 109 579 514 288 1416 1340 323 538 1320 1316