Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Vollman completes mammoth meditation on violence

W. T. Vollman's Rising Up and Rising Down is finally available for ordering from McSweeney's. An excerpt was published in McSweeney's No. 9, and it was totally compelling reading: a record of Vollman's visits to the Paris catacombs and a Chicago autopsy room, and his correspondence with a friend in Sarajevo. For me, the prose in that piece has the rare and magical quality of being simultaneously discursive and magnetic; it tugs me along even as it spirals and loops unpredictably around its unbearable subject like a plot of the Lorenz attractor.

Rising Up and Rising Down stands a long way from the snarky po-mo pop-culture in-jokes on McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Vollman's book is a serious piece of work; and given its seven volumes (weighing 20 lbs. in total), and its undoubtedly miniscule audience, it's a nearly heroic effort on the part of the McSwys crew to publish it.

I'll definitely be ordering a set, however thinly it stretches my shabby grad student finances. That is, if the limited print run hasn't sold through by tomorrow.

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