Vollman vs. Munro!


Robert L. Caserio, a professor of English at Pennsylvania State University who has studied Vollmann extensively, thinks Vollmann deserves a far greater audience: “When I consider Vollmann’s gigantic energy and global reach, and consider that feeble, ill-writing Alice Munro has won a Nobel Prize, I am staggered by how pathetically shrunken our standards of magnitude have become.”

from this Newsweek article about William Vollman.

A personal counterpoint to that:

  • I tried to read  Vollman, many times, because he seems brave and his projects are fascinating. (Going out of my way to be nice here even though Vollman has said he does not read the internet)
  • The Ice Shirt is interesting and ambitious (Jean and Hubbs got it for me for my birthday!) but I found that it was so wrapped up in elaborate Norse dream visions and stuff as to be unreadable (and I’m pretty into pre-Columbian North America)
  • Ditto Imperial.
  • Riding Towards Everywhere – a book about hobos, mind you – I failed to finish.

From the other corner:

  • I once read an Alice Munro story, selected truly at random from the probably full yard of Alice Munro books on the shelf at a public library in Victoria, British Columbia.  When I was done I had to wipe tears off my face with a coarse Tim Horton’s napkin.  I put the book back and was like shit that was just one I picked at random, maybe not even a good one of these, of which there are – 200?

Anyway, no accounting for taste, huge respect to Vollman, whose latest thing was dressing up like an old woman named Dolores I just think Prof. Caserio came off sounding a bit catty.

(Vollman from Wiki, Alice Munro photo from here)

(readers should know I have a possible positivity bias towards Alice M. because I won £200 betting on her, through a London intermediary, to win the Nobel Prize)

3 Comments on “Vollman vs. Munro!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice defense of Munro without snark! Could any writer want more than to reduce an objective and random reader to tears? Your transparency re: the bet is commendable. Congrats!

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