"...a lot of long words that in our language are sentences..."
—William T. Vollman
William T. Vollman writes books that could seem intimidating to some readers. You might expect the same of the author, but that is just not the case. As we sat down to talk at KQED for the second time, I almost wished we could record at a pub. Vollman is easygoing and casual. Even as he speaks of writing books that are beyond brilliant, he has a low-key manner.
To my mind, 'The Dying Grass' is quite likely to be the book of year; maybe of this decade, unless he writes another. I made sure we talked about how he developed his prose style here. I read much of the book electronically and the prose is resilient enough that Vollman's sensibilities shine through.
Vollman told me that not a day goes by without writing, and that he almost always finds it a joy to do so. There is a bit (quote a nit) of research that he has to front-load in to the creation if something like 'The Dying Grass.' He visited locations and libraries.
I had to ask about Blind William, the version of himself who haunts the Seven Dreams series. He told me that it is an acknowledgement of his own limitation in trying to re-create history. That said, he does a damn fine job of shattering every limitation you might have thought to encounter. We had a shortened session, so you'll have to content yourself with this link to the MP3 file of our conversation.
New to the Agony Column
09-18-15: Commentary : William T. Vollman Amidst 'The Dying Grass' : An Epic Exploration of Simultaneity
08-21-15: Agony Column Podcast News Report : Senator Claire McCaskill is 'Plenty Ladylike' : Internalizing Determination to Overcome Sexism [Incudes Time to Read EP 211: Claire McCaskill, Plenty Ladylike, plus A 2015 Interview with Senator Claire McCaskill]
Agony Column Podcast News Report : Emily Schultz Unleashes 'The Blondes' : A Cure by Color [Incudes Time to Read EP 210: Emily Schultz, The Blondes, plus A 2015 Interview with Emily Schultz]