Originally published in Poets and Writers, Feb. 2006
The author of fifteen books, including eight novels, three short story collections, a memoir, and a ten-volume treatise on the nature and ethics of violence, William T. Vollmann is often associated with his most controversial subjects—crack and prostitution among them. He is also characterized by a few signature stunts, such as firing a pistol during his readings and kidnapping a girl who had been sold into prostitution and turning her over to a relief agency while writing an article for Spin magazine.
But these anecdotes provide too narrow a lens through which to view perhaps the most audacious of contemporary writers—one who defies genres, word counts, and normative morality. In his work, Vollmann has continually focused his attention outward, always going to extremes in order to comprehend the world views of people unlike himself. He has worked as a correspondent from some of the most heated war zones: Iraq, Cambodia, Somalia, and former Yugoslavia.
Read the complete article at Poets and Writers.