william vollmann

“The most important and enjoyable thing in life is doing something that’s a complicated, tricky problem for you that you don’t know how to solve.” -William Vollmann

Woman William Vollmann

Vice publishes an excerpt of Vollmann’s latest nonfiction book, Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement, and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater. Damn.

Thanks to Gian, who today also on Vice published a story by Harriette Simpson Arnow.

Web Hype / 28 Comments
April 16th, 2010 / 4:09 pm

NYTBR has got some interesting stuff going on this weekend, mostly in the form of its bylines. They’ve got William T. Vollmann reviewing Crossers by Philip Caputo, August Kleinzahler on a new biography of Thelonious Monk, Amy Bloom on a book about feminism (When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present), and George Packer on Mark Danner’s Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War. Plus, you know, a bunch of other stuff. The usual run of whatever, plus as near as I can tell there seems to be only one new entry this week into the NYT’s famous vortex of nobody-gives-a-shit. That would be David Kamp (The United States of Arugala) reviewing the new Michael Chabon essay collection, Manhood for Amateurs (yikes!) which features that infamously stupid essay about childhood that made everyone hate him. Anyway, here’s the beginning of the Vollmann review:

Once when I was so weak with amebic dysentery that all time not spent on the toilet was passed in bed, I found in my host’s house one book in a language I could read. It was one of those storm-tossed but ultimately upbeat women’s romances, a genre I had not yet sampled. I read it, then read it again and again, since there was nothing better to do. If I ever have the luxury of repeating such an experience, I hope to do so with a Philip Caputo book. For how many decades in how many used bookstores have I seen “Horn of Africa” standing steadfast, a Rock of Gibraltar compared with the mere boulders of Ken Follett and Sidney Sheldon? And only now, with a half-century of my life already over, have I finally learned whom to turn to for a good potboiler in my next wasting sickness!

Palette, cleansed.

15 x 15

Not too long ago I posted by request a list of 15 ‘towering literary artists’ who personally and historically seem important. Most of them have published 8 books or more, most of which in each case I’ve read. Here are my favorites of each of those authors, for fun. Some are very close calls. What are yours?

David Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistess


Web Hype / 92 Comments
October 7th, 2009 / 12:34 pm