Dedicated to classics and hits.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vollmann Diaries 3: Into Mexico

building detail, downtown mexicalibuilding detail, downtown mexicali

Vollmann Diaries is a multi-part review of Imperial by William T. Vollmann, published on July 30th, 2009 and obtained by me on August 10th, 2009. (Amazon)

Vollmann Diaries 1: Border Crossing//Desert Tower
Vollmann Diaries 2: New River//\Salton Sea

Vollmann himself was in town last night, he appeared at Warwicks, on Girard St. in La Jolla, CA. I didn't go, even though he's my favorite author, for two reasons. One, I had already agreed to let 2/4 dum dum girls practice in my office last night. Two, I really hate author readings. Isn't the whole point of being an author NOT having to tour and do publicity? Also, a reader pointed out this KPBS interview from yesterday.

computecComputec Sign: Mexicali, Mexico

I was in El Centro yesterday, and driving back I headed out west on Adams Ave. During the drive I was thinking about what John Adams, prudish whig that he was, would think of the Imperial Valley landscape. I crossed over interstate 8 just east of where the New River intersects the freeway: there is an rv park close to the freeway, but as you precede south, there is no viewpoint for the river. No bridge over the river. For miles south of the interstate. Strange, but in line with Vollmanns observations.

location of casa tia tina in mexicalilocation of las casa tia tina circa 2007, Mexicali MX.

Closing in on the 175 page mark, Vollmann has firmly moved south of the border: after two shortish literary type chapters, one about a failed relationship of Vollmann the narrator and the other a brief metaphysical excursions, he settles in to a discussion of the Colorado River and the environmental degradation that it has suffered at the hands of the United States and our water thirsty society. He also focuses on how people kind of ignore it. That is a recurring theme. In fact, between chapters 5 and 6 Vollmann inserts a sign post which says "I'm going to use statistics in this book!" as a kind of warning to the reader.

In Chapter Seven, Vollmann explores the folk religion of Mexicans as embodied by the Maria de Guadalupe. She is a fusion deity born of the combination of Catholicism and Aztec religion. I have noticed that Vollmann employs the technique of importing academic/non-literary disciplines into what is a classic "work of literature." This ia an approach to writing literature I appreciate. Literature should reflect the world around it, and we are unquestionably a society of "technical experts" with specialties. It is not enough in this world to advocate for an ideology, statistics must be employed, no matter the non-technical nature of argument.

No comments:

Blog Archive