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Friday, July 28, 2017

Moving beyond writing limitations


“I think that we're all, as human beings, so limited. If we want to write about ourselves, that's fairly easy. And if we write about our friends or our families, we can do that. But if we want to project ourselves somewhere beyond our personal experience, we're going to fail unless we get that experience or we borrow it from others.” – William T. Vollmann

Born in Los Angeles on this date in 1959, Vollmann earned a degree in comparative literature from Cornell University and has had a wide-ranging career as a novelist, journalist, war correspondent, short story writer, and essayist.  In 2005, he won a National Book Award for his novel Europe Central.

Vollmann's other works have dealt with the settlement of North America (as in Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes, a cycle of seven novels); and stories of people on the margins of war, poverty, and hope.             In addition to his books, he has had articles and short stories published in numerous magazines and newspapers including Harper's, Esquire, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review.

“When I was writing the first few books,” Vollmann said,  “what I would do is write a bunch of sentences and then go back and expand and explode those sentences, pack as much into them as I could.  So they'd kind of be like popcorn kernels popping... all this stuff in there to make the writing dense, and beautiful for its density.”


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