I don’t believe that I have ever heard a critic or a reader accuse William T. Vollmann of writing tight, exacting prose. Fact is, most of Vollmann’s work is a little shaggy. But it’s still good, fleas and all. If you are interested in a gritty representation of the world of sex, drugs, and hobos riding the rails, then I recommend Vollmann’s novel Royal Family. This big, hairy novel is the third text in Vollmann’s Prostitution Series which started with Whores For Gloria, followed by Butterfly Stories. In these novels the author deals with sex trade, street drugs, violence, social hierarchy, spiritual awakening, death, Lady Boys, and the best way to hop a train to Barstow. I don’t believe there is a strong requirement to read the novels in order but since they go from shorter to longer, it might be a good idea.
I’m always excited when I see that a new book by William Vollmann is being published. This article in the Times, however, is a jaw-dropper:
As far as writers go, William T. Vollmann is a man’s man. In pursuit of a story, he has roughed it with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and survived a land mine explosion in Bosnia. He singed his eyebrows off and nearly froze to death exploring the magnetic North Pole. In Thailand, he rescued a teenage girl from sex slavery by kidnapping her from a pimp.
So it may be surprising that Mr. Vollmann, the absurdly prolific author and National Book Award winner, is also a devoted cross-dresser. He has developed a female alter ego named Dolores, whom he refers to in the third person.