Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs

Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs

This stunning new collection of stories confirms William T.

Vollmann's growing reputation as the American writer whose books "tower over the work of his contemporaries by virtue of their enormous range, huge ambition, stylistic daring, wide learning, audacious innovation, and sardonic wit" (Washington Post Book World).

All these qualities are in evidence in this collection in which the character of the writer and that of some of his intimates - both real and imaginary - surface and resurface in a series of extraordinary situations and encounters.

Two astonishing stories frame this collection.

Reviews of the Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs

Ha cominciata a pubblicare prima dei trentanni e da allora non ha più smesso con ritmo più che sostenuto: si contano otto tra romanzi e raccolte di racconti, la serie narrativo-storica I sette sogni: un libro di paesaggi nordamericani arrivata già al sesto volume, la cosiddetta Trilogia della Prostituzione formata da tre romanzi, circa una dozzina di titoli di saggistica. Vollmann è un caso unico nella letteratura americana contemporanea: nonostante sia considerato a ragione uno dei più grandi scrittori del nostro tempo, e nonostante il suo romanzo Europe Central abbia guadagnato una certa notorietà grazie al National Book Award vinto nel 2005, la sua produzione letteraria non ha ancora ricevuto lattenzione che merita. Non è stato un incontro felice il nostro, almeno da parte mia: direi che si è piuttosto trattato di uno scontro, abbiamo ingaggiato un combattimento, per restare in una delle tematiche che più interessano Vollmann, la violenza - ho faticato molto a leggere queste centoventi paginette, non finivano mai, e ho dovuto inframezzare svariate altre letture per superare limpasse. Conosce una lei che si chiama Elaine Suicide (i cognomi non sono scelti a caso) e cerca di ricostruirsi una vita con lei dopo la carriera militare (che avrebbe potuto finire con più gloria). Gun (Gotham) City Il tono è costante, cupo, freddo, distaccato, quasi dimesso, senza impennate (non ne ho percepite), come un forte rumore di fondo che non si smorza mai, ma neppure diventa più robusto.

Each story is followed by an Epitaph as Vollmann writes in the Author's Note:" A good story is only a hearse to carry you to the ending where the epitaph waits." This collection is bookended by two masterfully done stories The Ghost of Magnetism, & The Grave of Lost Stories. The story climaxes in Las Vegas, where the author figure vomits out memories of his friends in a pool full of the "beautiful people". It's hard to separate personal from the fictional here as the *Bill* character appears in so many stories & so do his many friends, especially Ken Miller* & Greenglass** in fact, the book is dedicated to these two. This book features many Vollmann staples whores, pimps, druggies, hobos, diverse geographical locales, white man chasing Asian woman/Third World prostitute etc. The story, The Bad Girl, featuring Ken Miller & his Thai prostitute 'wife' Yummy, presents an integral aspect of Vollmann's whore fixation a white man trying to 'save' a third world prostitute, to give her a better life ends up slumming it in Bangkok & then you realize what's the big deal here? My personal favs Flowers in Your Hair ( Maybe cause I like wearing flowers in my hair!), In Omaha ( A very personal story), The Ghost of Magnetism, & The Grave of Lost Stories. How I wish both Bill & Ken had visited Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia & also the red- light areas of Mumbai & Kolkata- who knows what stories & pics those people & places might have inspired!

Maybe it's a sentence or a paragraph or a page-long stretch, of some beautiful tragic haunting writing that tears at your chest and knocks you dead and burns you up into a little pile of sulphates, like the men in his stories. My favorites, personally, are the Edgar Allen Poe story, the Vietnam/Thailand ones, and the jaguar and Kennedy epitaphs.

I started feeling down on my adopted city today - this land of precious yuppie scum - but Vollmann helps me see the bright side.

I remember the case of Sheet-Rock Mark, who went with my friend Ken to a Vietnamese restaurant, and Mark kept yelling what the fuck do you want to take me to this gook place for? He got his tools and worked on that door for a good hour, and when he was finished the door was fixed and the Vietnamese lady was happy. It seems to me that Mark did more good than one of the people who have despised Mark for calling her a gook, who would have been polite to her and smiled at her encouragingly when she tried to speak English, but who would never in a million years have repaired the door." This is Vollmann, matter-of-fact and confrontational, sitting amongst the people who concern him. At another point, also concerned with a war veteran, Vollmann writes with more intensity: "Nonetheless, he had kept the dog tags of the last German that he'd killed, one minute before Hitler committed suicide.

  • English

  • Short Stories

  • Rating: 3.82
  • Pages: 318
  • Publish Date: July 7th 1994 by Grove Press
  • Isbn10: 0802133959
  • Isbn13: 9780802133953