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Poor People
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His Books -- Not Fiction > 2007 Poor People

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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Poor People is a documentation of answers to the question, "Why are you poor?"


Ellie (EllieArcher) | 5 comments I loved this book-both a very personal look at poverty, without sentimentality, and very political at the same time.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Review in the NYT ::

"Show Me the Moneyless" By Walter Kirn, March 18, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/boo...

Or, how not to use the word "postmodern", ie "How does traveling the world asking poor people why they think they’re poor differ from traveling the world asking people in pain why they’re in pain or thirsty people why they thirst? Is this a serious, legitimate inquiry, or does it betray a certain faux-autism that might be better suited to performance art? These are two of my questions for William T. Vollmann, the prolific, award-winning novelist and journalist whose new book, “Poor People,” centers on just such a Pyrrhic, postmodern project: asking the unfathomable of the unfortunate and using their numbed, predictable responses as proof of their plight’s intractable mystery." The thing is, that it's Kirn striking the postmodern=pose -- the bad kind of postmodern. But there are a few things Kirn says that don't make him sound entirely like a condescending liberal.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments So Geoff just wrote a very excellent review for Poor People. And it occurred to me that, after RURD, this is perhaps my favorite non-fic from Vollmann (Imperial I've not read yet ; likewise the Copernicus book). So, the general question, how do you rate Poor People in comparison to Bill's other non-fic?


message 5: by Geoff (last edited Jul 11, 2014 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Geoff | 158 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "So Geoff just wrote a very excellent review for Poor People. And it occurred to me that, after RURD, this is perhaps my favorite non-fic from Vollmann (Imperial I've not read yet ; likewise the Co..."

Imperial>Poor People. I've not read RURD or Kissing the Mask or Copernicus or Riding Toward Everywhere. So, my opinion is let's say limited and therefore suspect.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Geoff wrote: "Imperial>Poor People."

That's my suspicion. And, you'll be happy to know :: RURD>Imperial. I suspect. : )


message 7: by Brian (new) - added it

Brian | 31 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "So Geoff just wrote a very excellent review for Poor People."

+1


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

That is likely the case, but Imperial is DELIRIOUSLY good. I went face down in that one for a month straight. It's funny, as much as I bear passionate love for Bill's fiction, I think he's maybe at his strongest writing nonfiction...also, Riding Toward Everywhere is hard to compare with books like Imperial and RU & RD. As is true for Poor People. I suspect. They're minnows. But what lovely scales they have....


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Ashley wrote: "That is likely the case, but Imperial is DELIRIOUSLY good."

Yep. I'm expecting a systematic level of treatment like that found in RURD. The same kind of calculus could have been done for Poor People, but I think Bill found an adequate manner of excusing himself from imposing such a calculus upon poverty. Justifying poverty is certainly a greater mine field than the justification of violence.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments A review of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Bill ; filed here for thematic reasons.

"Under the Wheel of Capitalism: The 1 percenters who demonize the poor have always followed Hitler’s strategy of the big lie" December 1, 2014 ::
http://washingtonspectator.org/wheel-...


message 11: by Nathan "N.R." (last edited Oct 21, 2016 09:11AM) (new) - added it


message 12: by Henry (last edited Sep 10, 2018 12:00AM) (new)

Henry | 8 comments Poor People got surreptitously published in German as „Arme Leute“ in June. It took me 3 months to find out about this, so I guess Suhrkamp didn't do a very good job in advertising it. Apparently I wasn't the only one as the time frame for press coverage ranges from June to September.

It was translated by Robin Detje again, who previously translated Europe Central, so I am hoping they have him translate more Vollmann for the German market after this one.

https://www.suhrkamp.de/buecher/arme_...


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