William T Vollmann Central discussion

Imperial
This topic is about Imperial
89 views
His Books -- Not Fiction > 2009 Imperial

Comments (showing 1-47 of 47) (47 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Imperial is a portrait of Imperial County, California. It is a behemoth of a book. There exists also a photo companion book.


Geoff | 158 comments Hey all of you bright and risen angels, my dears, I've begun reading Imperial and I'll be gathering related material such as interviews, reviews, essays (I'm hoping there is a possible plurality of relevant essays), photographs, related items NOT by Vollmann, etc. etc. and collecting them in my review-space as I go along (so it will be a developing piece). When I'm done with this beast of a book I'll post all the resources I've found in this thread. But, much like that desert land, I fear my audience is going to be composed primarily of sand, tumbleweeds, and dry winds. So be it! Paradise is made only inside our lonely skulls!


Hadrian (hadrianvs) | 22 comments Vaya con Dios, Geoff. I fell in love with Imperial, and would love to retread that journey.

I've been thinking of doing the same thing for Europe Central, or maybe the extant Seven Dreams series.


message 4: by Geoff (last edited Jul 20, 2013 08:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Geoff | 158 comments Hadrian wrote: "Vaya con Dios, Geoff. I fell in love with Imperial, and would love to retread that journey.

I've been thinking of doing the same thing for Europe Central, or maybe the extant Seven Dreams series."


I think there will be so much peripheral material to make this (already gigantic) read so much of a larger experience, as it aims right at the center of so many issues that America/Mexico/The World At Large is confronting right now (borders, biopolitics, resource shortages, racism, poverty, labor, on and on)... it feels very of the moment even though it was published in 2009.


message 5: by Aubrey (new) - added it

Aubrey (Korrick) Regarding your prediction for your audience, Geoff, I'm sure Vollmann thinks the same thing at times, and look how far his fans have come for him. I can't speak for others, but this particular Vollmaniac will be eagerly looking forward to your grand scheme of things.


message 6: by Geoff (last edited Jul 20, 2013 08:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Geoff | 158 comments Aubrey wrote: "Regarding your prediction for your audience, Geoff, I'm sure Vollmann thinks the same thing at times, and look how far his fans have come for him. I can't speak for others, but this particular Voll..."

If I have your attention, Aubrey, I need not the world's.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Gives one great hope to see people grow turgid with enthusiasm for a turgid (and almost unbearably lovely) work like Imperial. Geoff, you have my vote for president when we are asked to preform that civic duty once more.


Geoff | 158 comments Ashley wrote: "Gives one great hope to see people grow turgid with enthusiasm for a turgid (and almost unbearably lovely) work like Imperial. Geoff, you have my vote for president when we are asked to preform tha..."

I have a hunch I might have some trouble getting through the vetting process for that particular office... not a squeaky clean past for this fella. But thanks for the encouragement!

PS-I peeked at your profile, how's The Oxford Book of Death? Great title..


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Excellent! I picked it up at the Goodwill the other day because of the editor, D.J. Enright whose revisions to Moncrieff and Kilmartin's Proust translation I found to be subtle but profound. His compilation of writings about the ultimate terminus proves to be of equal worth. Maybe I'm enjoying it so much because ever since I started in on Knausgaard this summer I've really had death on the brain? Highly recommended, anyway.


Geoff | 158 comments Vollmanniacs, here's my Imperial review-space, which contains some words, but also some pictures and links, one very good find of Vollmann reading kinda extensively from Imperial:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 11: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (Moontravlr) | 16 comments I'm posting this just to let you know that you are not alone. Someone is watching, unseen, lurking. :)


Geoff | 158 comments Traveller wrote: "I'm posting this just to let you know that you are not alone. Someone is watching, unseen, lurking. :)"

WHEW thanks! I feel really weird when I think I'm not being covertly observed... I am a true American...


message 13: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (Moontravlr) | 16 comments Just wanted to make the hollow echo in here a bit less... lonely? (The idea is that you think you are still being covertly observed so you feel a bit less lonely, even when you are, in fact, alone...)

Does that psychology work?


message 14: by Aloha (new) - added it

Aloha | 44 comments I'm a lurker, too. I thought Imperial was going to be my first Vollmann since I'm interested in the Mexican/border situation. But Mask got my attention then I jumped on the Europe Central bandwagon. Now I'm mesmerized by Rising. In the middle of reading that now


message 15: by Traveller (last edited Sep 14, 2013 12:52AM) (new)

Traveller (Moontravlr) | 16 comments Did you end up reading Mask, Aloha? I was planning to, but it just never seems to get quite to the top of the pile... maybe I need a little shove.


message 16: by Aloha (new) - added it

Aloha | 44 comments Finished it. That's what got me finally committing to Vollmann. Japanese aesthetic, transgender, how can I resist?


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments A recent review of Imperial ::

"In 'Imperial' Vollmann Struggles to Understand the Salton Sea as He Would a Mark Rothko Painting" By John L. Murphy, 24 November 2013 ;;
http://www.popmatters.com/column/1766...

"It’s an effort to pick up this weighty tome on Imperial County, in content and heft. Sections ramble as a massive compilation on purportedly a single subject. Similar criticisms were aimed at Moby-Dick. Vollmann digs deep in 1,100 pages (the paperback reprint excises some hardcover endnotes), annotated with dissertation-level documentation. This tribute to the overlooked Southeastern (rather than scrutinized Southern) California stands as a leviathan of fact and lore. "


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments What became a chapter in Imperial ::

"Where the Ghost Bird Sings by the Poison Springs-- The river was pleasant, really, wide and coffee-colored. We can poison nature and go on poisoning it; something precious always remains." from Outside Magazine, 2002.

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-...


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Article in LATimes ::

"THE WRITER'S LIFE -- William T. Vollmann: The dispassionate chronicler ;; This time, that mix of empathy and distance, that need to look at everything with an outsider's eye, is trained on Imperial County."

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/...


Geoff | 158 comments There are mornings, like this morning in particular, that I wake up and miss the months I was waking every morning looking forward to traversing the ever-new and ever-ancient grounds of the entity called Imperial with dear Vollmann-- sigh-- I shall revisit it one day...


message 21: by Aloha (new) - added it

Aloha | 44 comments I love 'em and leave 'em to discover the joy of the next book.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Anyone who read this.... he does have a thing or two to say about the american hero Cesar Chavez, does he not? Here's a new bio :: The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography


Geoff | 158 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Anyone who read this.... he does have a thing or two to say about the american hero Cesar Chavez, does he not? Here's a new bio :: The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography"

More than a thing or two. There is a large section devoted to Chavez.


message 24: by Aloha (last edited Mar 24, 2014 02:51AM) (new) - added it

Aloha | 44 comments Thanks for that, Nathan. Been wanting to read up on Chavez. Available in ebook, too. Whoo-hoo!


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I've taken the plunge and started Imperial the other night. I'm guessing two to three week of committed reading to finish it. The first fifty pages: vintage Vollmann.


message 26: by Aloha (new) - added it

Aloha | 44 comments Happy reading, Greg! I've been wanting to read that one.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Greg wrote: " The first fifty pages: vintage Vollmann. "

When he says you should feel free to skip the stuff about lettuce prices, he's not joking!


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Last night I reached the page where Vollmann warns of impending aridity in the coming chapters. Since there seems to consensus, I'll brush up on my skimming skills.


message 29: by Aloha (new) - added it

Aloha | 44 comments Greg, by the double posting, are you telling us that the book has double the content necessary to convey the information? :oD


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished Imperial. I think parts rank up there with the best of his work, but the book is really too long - even when skimming the lettuce prices. Immigration issues never cause me apoplectic fits, but I wonder if it were shorter if it would not be a good tool for readers to learn about the people, the politics, and the life at the boarder.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Greg wrote: " the book is really too long - even when skimming the lettuce prices."

I think it still could have been long, even if it were shorter.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments Knot=Vollmann, but Salton Sea ----

The New Yorker ::
"Letter from the Imperial Valley" May 4, 2015
"The Dying Sea: What will California sacrifice to survive the drought?" By Dana Goodyear
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201...


LindaH | 5 comments I just read the first chapter of Imperial and I'm in. Actually the book had me at the TOC. I grew up in 50s So. Cal...went to college in 60s Riverside...Cesar Chavez and lettuce rings a big bell. Okay for a septuagenarian to like Vollmann? (I've read Europe Central so far.)


message 34: by Zadignose (new)

Zadignose | 23 comments Nonogenarians is the official cutoff point, so you're well within the limits.


LindaH | 5 comments Whew.


LindaH | 5 comments This was a surprise. Nobody told me there'd be parodies. In Chapter 11 WTV writes a story from Imperial in multiple ways, including as the border agent might tell it, or as Flaubert might. His writing can be so playful. New excitement about his approach to content.


LindaH | 5 comments Since I mentioned that I was reading Imperial, I just wanted to post my review.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments In the strangest places. Asia Times cites Vollmann ::

'“They came out like ants!” Some years ago, William T. Vollmann wrote this headline in Harper’s, adding the subtitle “Searching for the Chinese tunnels of Mexicali.” Tomorrow (Saturday, February 20), “they”—the Chinese Americans—might again come out “like ants” in more than 40 cities, this time not from the mysterious tunnels of Mexicali, but from a cellphone-based social media network called WeChat.'
http://atimes.com/2016/02/thoughts-on...


message 39: by Cody (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cody (warmjets) | 57 comments Any off chance some beautiful bastard is reading this like I am right now??? Any Risen Angel?

--Cody the Farsighted


message 40: by Kyle (new) - added it

Kyle | 7 comments I will be starting this pretty soon, probably after I finish The Dying Grass. I can't decide if I should read this next, or one of the other two Seven Dreams books I own (as of last week). Argall or Fathers and Crows. I have just recently fallen in love with Vollmann's writing, and I am excited to read all of them, but there is something about the long, encyclopedic novels that just calls to me.


message 41: by Cody (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cody (warmjets) | 57 comments Kyle wrote: "I will be starting this pretty soon, probably after I finish The Dying Grass. I can't decide if I should read this next, or one of the other two Seven Dreams books I own (as of last week). Argall o..."

Welcome to the rabbit hole, friend. There's no way out now!


message 42: by Kyle (new) - added it

Kyle | 7 comments Cody wrote: "Kyle wrote: "I will be starting this pretty soon, probably after I finish The Dying Grass. I can't decide if I should read this next, or one of the other two Seven Dreams books I own (as of last we..."

I'm certainly happy to be here.

Did you finish Imperial? I see that your comment was back in July. If so, what did you think? Compared to his other work?


message 43: by Cody (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cody (warmjets) | 57 comments Kyle wrote: "Cody wrote: "Kyle wrote: "I will be starting this pretty soon, probably after I finish The Dying Grass. I can't decide if I should read this next, or one of the other two Seven Dreams books I own (..."

I did. I recently reviewed it. It is a MASTERPIECE. Proceed quickly.


message 44: by Kyle (new) - added it

Kyle | 7 comments Cody wrote: "Kyle wrote: "Cody wrote: "Kyle wrote: "I will be starting this pretty soon, probably after I finish The Dying Grass. I can't decide if I should read this next, or one of the other two Seven Dreams ..."

It's so difficult to pick. I always end up picking up each book, thumbing through it a bit, reading a few sentences, and repeating until one finally sticks. I always spend an embarrassing amount of time on this "ritual" (as my fiance calls it). I have a feeling it's going to be a hard choice this time around. The logical part of my brain tells me it doesn't matter that much, I will end up reading them all in the end regardless, but I never seem to listen.

Thank you for the endorsement, I am now leaning that way a little more. The Dying Grass has been going a little quicker than I thought it would, and it's also one of the very best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. So, I have a feeling any Vollmann is a good choice at this point.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments In interview from 2010 regarding Imperial ::

"A Modest Imperialist: William T. Vollmann"
by Steven Ross
http://www.brooklynrail.org/2010/03/e...


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) | 720 comments I seem to have missed this one (?) ::

"Moby-Dick in the Desert :
Unplug the phone. There’s a new William T. Vollmann book."
By Sam Anderson
http://nymag.com/arts/books/reviews/5...


message 47: by Tom (new)

Tom Beshear | 38 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "I seem to have missed this one (?) ::

"Moby-Dick in the Desert :
Unplug the phone. There’s a new William T. Vollmann book."
By Sam Anderson
http://nymag.com/arts/books/reviews/5..."


That review is a real head spinner. Round and round it goes, and, I think, at the end WTV gets a thumbs up.


back to top