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Vollmann, William T(anner)

stories american life style

(US, 1959– )

Born and educated in California, William T. Vollmann became known for an obsessive attraction to violence and danger, and his research has involved seeking out drug barons, torturers, and terrorists in war zones like Afghanistan and Bosnia. His first novel, You Bright and Risen Angels (1987), was a sprawling portrait of contemporary American life held together by a voice that reflects the strangeness and turmoil of the landscape around it. The Rainbow Stories (1989) interweaves real-life stories of homelessness, drug addiction, and combat trauma to create a tapestry-style portrait of the American underclass, while The Butterfly Stories (1993) describes the lives of prostitutes in Cambodia and Thailand. Vollmann is a hugely prolific and uneven writer, but at his best the difficult and painful stories he uncovers are filtered through a style that is by turns compassionate, strange, and redemptive.

Thomas Pynchon, William Faulkner  WB

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