William T. Vollmann: The Dying Grass A Novel of the Nez Perce War



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GEORGES CHARBONNIER Raymond ueneau ou said to me one day that two great currents exist in literature and that basically one could if I understood ou correctly link most novels either to the Iliad or to the Odyssey RAYMOND UENEAU I think that those are in fact the two poles of Western novelistic activity since its creation that is to say since Homer and that one can easily classify all works of fiction either as descendants of the Iliad or of the Odyssey I had the pleasure of hearing this idea of the Occidental novel as a continuation of the Iliad summarized recently by Butor during a conference 25 July 1961 He said excellent things in this regard but he didn t speak about the Odyssey and it seems to me that the Odyssey represents the other pole of Western literatureGC When would ou say there s an Iliad and when would The American Founding you say there s an OdysseyR First of all these two works have one thing in common one finds in them nearly all the techniues of the novel It doesn t seem to me that anyone has discovered much that s new since thenThe Iliad is already an extremely erudite work with a very well defined subject it is asou know the story of Achilles anger that is something very specific placed in a very vast historical and mythological context One incident projects in a way a glimmer of light on the historical world which surrounds it and vice versa but it is the incident which makes the story the rest contributes only to the suspense and to the development of the storyMany novelists likewise take well defined precise characters whose stories are sometimes of mediocre interest and place them in an important historical context which remains secondary in spite of everything The Charterhouse of Parma and War and Peace are novels of the Iliad genre not because they tell of battles like Homer that counts too but because the important things are the characters plunged into history and the conflict between characters and history for example the work of Proust is also an Iliad The battles take place in drawing rooms but they are still battles and the nucleus is the narrator s personality and the people who interest himMoreover there is the Odyssey The Odyssey is demonstrably much personal it is the story of someone who in the course of diverse experiences acuires a personality or if ou will affirms and recovers his personality like Ulysses who finds himself unchanged aside from his experience at the end of his odysseySo there the examples are extremely numerous Don uixote Moby Dick Ulysses naturally but also a book like Bouvard and Pecuchet for example which is well situated in this line of descent The story of Bouvard and Pecuchet is an Odyssey through the sciences the letters and the arts Bouvard and Pecuchet as well find themselves as they were at the beginning of the novel since the book s conclusion is that they start to copy again just as Ulysses returns to be the king of his little island Rabelais also certainly Rabelais is an Odyssey The Red and the Black is an Odyssey whereas The Charterhouse of Parma seems to me to be an Iliad And in the Odyssey there are as much as in the Iliad technical refinements which are extremely remarkable and I m surprised they aren t mentioned often For example when Ulysses hears his own story sung by an epic poet and then he reveals his identity and the poet wants to continue singing and Ulysses isn t interested any longer that s very astonishing modern shall we say because it s really a novel within a novel To have one s own story told by a third party who doesn t know that the character in uestion is himself the hero of the story being told that s a technical refinement which could date from the twentieth century It s true that one finds this sophistication also in Don uixote GC In a general way would the Iliad and the Odyssey correspond to two realizations two ways of apprehending things two ways of conceiving themR Yes In one we think of giving importance to history but it is the individual who is interesting and in the other the individual is interesting and we want to give him a historical importance In fact it s the same point of view that is to say the novelist s point of view the creator of fiction s point of view It is the character who interests him Sometimes he wants to convince the reader that the story he is telling is as interesting as universal history and sometimes he thinks that he will render this story interesting by slipping it into universal history The story of Achilles could take place anywhere that the all powerful lord comes to take his favorite slave from him it could happen in a completely different historical context from the Trojan War It is obviously only the author s genius which persuades the reader that the story cannot be otherwise that it must be accepted that wayGC Would the truth be a synthesis of these twoR Either a synthesis or a way outThis conversation with ueneau was in the back of my mind throughout my reading of The Dying Grass it seems to me that what Vollmann is accomplishing with his Seven Dreams is precisely this synthesis this way out for the novel a way to have it both ways Even the language employed especially in the Nez Perce sections of this book is reminiscent of Fagle s translations of Homer Vollmann has given us an American Iliad a grand epic battle march presented in the personal terms of hundreds of little Odysseys unfolding across a hypnagogic Reconstruction era frontier and an infinite march and corresponding retreat of attrition atomized into individual suffering days from July to October of 1877 The hyper impressionistic landscape descriptions are among the most strangely malevolently beautiful writings Vollmann has given us The land itself is a most vivid entity among the sprawling cast of deeply drawn characters in this book Much has rightly been made of the typesetting and use of page space in this novel in addition to giving it a look of the old Epics and in some cases the visual style of Whitman s capacious lyric enjambments it is utilized to manipulate or cut through the distance of externalinternal narration We follow these characters for 1300 pages from the onomatopoetic chaos of the battle field into the phantasmagoric doldrums of their great slog across the midwest in and out of remembrances desires longings their malicious wishes their basest thoughts even their dreams Vollmann utilizing song and repetition and a multitude of distinct speech styles to create a kind of polyphonous orchestra of imagined voices These are some of the most fully realized characters of Vollmann s career both the soldiers and the American Indians and we the readers find ourselves faltering with heartbreak and loss and sadness and bewilderment and nothing like a sense of forgiveness across time for all of their fates The Dying Grass is about the Very Beautiful and Almost Automatic human machinery of Westward American Progress against the dying light of the Native Americans animistic nomadic days of Dreaming their lives on plentiful plains in freedom hegemony or extinction The mechanical supplanting of The American Dream in its many modes and narrowing conceptions It is a book of the oncoming technological century and the brutal implementation of capitalist modes of industrial life onto the unwilling by the unwilling It is a book of our collective lost time It is something of a grim creation myth for our age for we all know the end result of this campaign we are its successors and beneficiaries We are its echo Vollmann here and in the other Seven Dreams is taking on the monumental task of asking us to ask ourselves how do we hold how do we hear these time bleached echos How do we go about interring these bones which are only ours to inter A remarkable achievement One from each side who made the deepest impression on meCharles Erskine Scott Wood Glass here because it is well worth reading is the Nez Perce creation myth This story tells how Coyote made the different people including the Nez Perce and how certain animals came to look as they do today Without Coyote s cleverness in outwitting the monster the people and animals today would still be imprisoned in the Mon ster s belly Once upon a time Coyote was tearing down the waterfall at Celilo and building a fish ladder so that salmon could go upstream for the people to catch He was very busy at this when someone shouted to him Why are ou doing that All the people are gone now because the Monster has eaten them Well said Coyote to himself then I ll stop doing this because I was doing it for the people and they are gone Now I ll go along too From there he went upstream by way of the Salmon River country As he was walking along he stepped on the leg of Meadowlark and broke it Meadowlark got mad and shouted Lima lima lima What chance do Ellas First Exam (Ellas Exams Book 1) you have of finding people walking along lik e this Coyote said My Aunt Please tell me what is happening and I will make forou a new leg from the wood of a chokecherry tree So the Meadowlark told him Already all the people have been swallowed by the Monster Coyote replied Well that is where I too am going Then he fixed Meadowlark s leg with a chokecherry branch From there he traveled on Along the way he took a good bath saying to himself I will make myself tasty to the Monster Then he dres sed himself all up saying This is so he won t vomit me up Coyote tied himself with rawhide rope to three great mountains Tuhm lo Ellas Second Exam yeets mekhs Pilot Knob Se sak khey mekhs Seven Devil s Mountain and Taa mekhs Cottonwood Butte After the people came these same mountains were used by Playing Sinatra young men and women as special places to seek the wey a kin or spirit who helped guide them through life From there Coyote went along the mountains and over the ridges Suddenly he saw a great head He uickly hid himself in the grass and gazed at it Never before in his life had he seen anything like it The head was huge and sweating off somewhere i n the distance was its big body Then Coyote shouted to him Oh Monster let us inhale each other The big eyes of the monster looked all around for Coyote but did not find him because Coyote s body was painted with clay and was the same color as the grass Then Coyote shouted again Oh Monster let us inhale each other Coyote shook the grass back and forth where he sat Suddenly the Monster saw the swaying grass and said Ohou Coyote ou inhale first You swallow me first So Coyote tried Powerfully and noisily he drew in his breath but the great Monster only swayed and shook Then Coyote said Now ou inhale me You have already swallowed all the people so Zero (The Orbit Series you should swallow me too so I won t be lonely The Monster did not know that Coyote had a pack strapped to his back with five flintstone knives a flint fire making set and some pure pitch in it Now the Monster inhaled like a mighty wind He carried Coyote right towards him but as Coyote Went he left along the way great keh mes Camas bulbs and great serviceberry fields saying Here the people will find them and will be glad for only a short time away is the coming of the La te tel wit Human Beings Coyote almost got caught on one of the ropes but he cut it with his knife Thus he dashed right into the monster s mouth Coyote looked around and walked down the throat of the Monster Along the way he saw bones scattered about and he thought to himself I can see that many people have been dying As he went along he saw some boys and he said to them Where is the M onster s heart Come show me As they were heading that way Grizzly Bear rushed out at them roaring Coyote said So You makeourself scary only to me and he kicked Bear on the nose Thus the bear today has only a short nose As they went on Rattlesnake rattled at them in fury So only towards me Women, Creativity, And The Arts you are vicious We are nothing but dung toou Then he stomped on Rattlesnake s head and flattened it out It is still that way Coyote then met Brown Bear who said I see the Monster has kept Captive you for last Hah I d like to seeou try to save Darkfever (Fever, your people But then all along the way people began to greet Coyote and talk to him His close friend Fox greeted him from the side and said The Monster is so dangerous What areou going to do to him Coyote told him You and the boys go find some wood or anything that will burn About this time Coyote had arrived at the heart of the Monster He cut off slabs of fat from the great heart and threw them to the people It s too bad Concorso MEF. 400 collaboratori amministrativi. 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Con software di simulazione you are hungry Here eat this Coyote now started a fire with his flint and smoke drifted up through the Monster s eyes nose ears and anus The Monster said Ohou Coyote That s why I didn t trust Bullfrog Grows Up you Let me castou out Coyote said If The Legendary Unicorn you do people will later say He who was cast out is giving salmon to the people Well then go out through the nose the Monster said But then they will say the same thing Well then go out through the ears the Monster said If I do answered Coyote they will say There is old ear wax giving food to the people Hn hn hn Ohou Coyote This is why I didn t trust Meeting the Living God you Then go out through the anus And Coyote replied Then people will say Old faeces is giving food to the people The fire was now burning near the Monster s heart and he began to feel the pain Coyote began cutting away on the heart but then broke one of his stone knives Right away he took another knife and kept cutting but soon that one broke too Coyote t hen said to the people Now gather up all the bones around here and carry them to the eyes ears month and anus of the Monster Pile them up and when he falls dead kick them out the openings With the third knife he began cutting away at the heart The third knife broke and then the fourth leaving only one He told the people All right getourselves ready because as soon as he falls dead each one of The Red Saka you must go out through the opening that is closest toou Take the old women and old me n close to the openings so that they may get out easily Now the heart hung by only a small piece of muscle and Coyote was cutting away on it using his last stone knife The Monster s heart was still barely hanging when Coyote s last knife broke Coyote then threw himself on the heart just barely tearing it loose with his hands Then the Monster died and opened up all the openings of his body The people kicked the bones out and then went out themselves Coyote went out too The Monster fell dead and the anus began closing but Muskrat was still inside Just as the anus closed he sueezed out barely getting his body out but his tail was caught He pulled and pulled and all the hair got pulled right off it Coyote scold ed him Now what were Walt Disneys Spin and Marty, Trouble at Triple-R you doing You probably thought of something to do at the last minute You re always behind in everything Then Coyote told the people Gather up all the bones and arrange them well They did this Then Coyote said Now we are going to cut up the Monster Coyote smeared blood on his hands and sprinkled this blood on the bones Suddenly there came to li fe again all those who had died while inside the Monster Everyone carved up the great Monster and Coyote began dealing out parts of the body to different areas of the country all over the land towards the sunrise towards the sunset towards the north and towards the south Where each part landed he named a tribe and described what their appearance would be The Cayuse were formed and became small and hot tempered The Flatheads got a flat headed appearance The Blackfeet became tall slender and war like The Coeur d Alene and their neighbors to the north became skillful gamblers The Yakima became short and stocky and were good fishermen He used up the entire body of the Monster in this way Then Fox came up to Coyote and said What is the meaning of this Coyote You have used up the body of the Monster and given it to far away lands but have givenourself nothing for this area Well snorted Coyote Why didn t Nijinsky And Romola you tell me this before I was so busy that I didn t think of it Then he turned to the people and said Bring me some water with which to wash my hands He washed his hands and made the water bloody Then with t his bloody water he threw drops over the land around him and said You may be little people butou will be powerful You will be little because I did not give Lindsay and the Lifeguards you enough of the Monster s body butou will be very brave and intelligent and will work h ard In only a short time the La te tel wit Human Beings are coming And The Wedding Ghost you will be known as the Nu me poo later referred to as Nez Perce or Tsoop nit pa lu People Crossing over into the Divide Thus the Nu me poo Nation was born Today the heart and liver of the Monster are to be found in the beautiful Kamiah Valley in Idaho the home of the Nez Perce tribe Thus the beginning of the La te tel wit Human Beings was at hand I was given a free advance reader copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalleycom in exchange for an honest review New readers of Vollmann s dream series will find an exhaustive telling of the flight of the Nez Perce from the American forces led by General OO Howard As explained in the notes section Vollmann does not attempt to get every detail factually correct but rather to tell a great story while revealing the relative truth of the conflict between natives of the new world and Europeans and their descendants I haveet to read the Rifles but for my money the Dying Grass is perhaps the best of the bunch My recollection of Chief Joseph s war consisted of it being a long drawn out fight due to the Nez Perce being denied access to their Camas grounds Camas is a native plant which was a staple of many Native Americans found throughout the Great Basin Desert Readers who know little of the events may be better served from a story telling point of view to wait until afterwards to learn The story will be interesting that way and Vollmann gives summaries for all of his source material so The Value of Optimism you ll have a great idea of where to startThe PlayersThe Dying Grass presents a few of the most compelling characters in the Dream series The characters seem to be rounder to me which makes me suspect that Vollmann was able to benefit greatly from reading diaries correspondence first hand accounts newspapers and autobiographies to craft the fictional side of so many people In particular the Native American characters are fuller The two main characters of the book are General OO Howard and Chief Joseph of the Nez PerceHoward is a deeply Christian man who led the Freedman s Bureau after the Civil War stylized here as the War of Succession which resulted inears of scandalous attacks on his good name along with legal charges of graft He spends the rest of his life trying to fight and pay for these legal battles He also founded Howard University and a chain of banks for freed slaves that eventually went bankrupt Juxtaposed against this willingness to work for the downtrodden Negros is his dealing with the Indian tribes While known for convincing Cochise to lay down arms Howard takes a hard line stance towards the Nez PerceChief Joseph is portrayed as a reasoned man who seeks peace rather than war He is styled as the Red Napoleon by the press but within the tribe several other men are the overall chief of the Nez Perce These include the vain Looking Glass and the steady Lean Elk Joseph is often considered a camp chief by the best men of the Nez Perce while other chiefs including his ounger brother Ollokot are actually the war leadersThere are numerous characters that play large roles on either side of of the campaign The most interesting include Lieutenant Wood who begins to have deep misgivings about the action against the Nez Perce and Colonel Perry who is haunted by numerous high profle setbacks during the action The interaction of the remaining officers in relation to Howard over the course of the campaign is fascinating Their jockeying for favor with the General is mirrored by Howard s competition to retain his position as leader under the threat of rival officers currying favor with General Sherman The Native American contingent focuses on the chiefs and sub chiefs of the Nez Perce but also fully explores the tribe to include the Three Red Blankets who begin the war scouts and other best men who engage in the heavy fighting A welcome spotlight is shown on the wives mothers and children of the Nez Perce mainly zeroing in on the relations of Chief Joseph and OllokotVollmannian TropesTwo characters who appear throughout the novel are Doc and Welweyas Doc is featured heavily in the beginning of the novel as a guard with a wagon train but has joined the army just in time to take part in every battle Doc is reminscent of past characters in the dream series who seem slightly demonic in nature and was compared to Argall a recent interview Doc is often seen as an indefatigable force pushing less experienced soldiers forward through a mix of wisdom and nips at a cocaine bottle Welweyas is described as a half woman throughout the text I initially thought she was a hemaphrodite but I believe the intention was that the character was actually a transvestite Nonetheless Welweyas is consistent with other characters within the dream series who explore the blurring of gender Doc is an entirely fictionl character whereas Welweyas was a historical figureWilliam the BlindOne of the conceits of Vollmann for the dream series is that he writes himself into the narrative and refers to himself as William the Blind The practice isn t nearly as obtrusive as it sounds These moments of self awareness can take the form of Vollmann consulting with an expert in this book a photographer or Vollman can surface within the period text The reader can decide how to feel about this but I find it adds a little fun and texture to the work The following are two examples1 Told in this order Joseph s story becomes happy From bone gravel and worm grass I sought to assemble it in the cool rich night Labor Day night now. In this new installment in his series of novels examining the collisions between Native Americans and European colonizers William T Vollmann tells the story of the Nez Perce War with flashbacks to the Civil War Defrauded and intimidated at every turn the Nez Perces finally went on the warpath in 1877 subjecting the.

Seventy five degrees according to the neon clock thermometer over First Bank before dark the temperature had been nearly a hundred On the moon which a moment ago had offered a dark continent upon its ellow disk a furry ellow ring disguised it s own origins like a story growing out of the ground And I William the Blind who must myself soon go underground have begun several stories in this way ashes to ashes and dust to life here I am still doing it with the same stubbornness exemplified by the flagpole in the rock before the courthouse Anno Domini MCMIX the four faced clock above the bench on the courthouse lawn the concrete arch in commemoration of the WALLOWA COUNTY PIONEERS and inside this arch in case one might not understand an arch of words reads IN MEMORY OF THE FIRST SETTLERS who drove the Nez Perce off this property2 Every volunteer has a star pointed soul and although I crave to tell ou about Captain Caitlin the wise Indian fighter and Myron Lockwood the experienced Indian hater it was his house that Toohhoolhoolzote s bunch pillaged back in the Bitter Root Valley not to mention the steadfast German privates who will soon punctured it behooves me not to interrupt our narrative mechanismthose two main automata are General Howard and that SATANIC Red Napoleon Mr Joe by dwelling on the accidental personalities of this other army which will shortly perform it s purpose and withdraw leaving our protagonist and antagonist alone again so please let me limit my gaze to Gibbon on his old grey horse plotting against Miles and Crook scorning scorning Howard continuing to judge Benteen unforgivable thanks to his desertion of Custer remembering the pleasant sight of those Cheyenne suaw in their ribbon hemmed dresses and Bradley defender of womenNotes and notes about notesVollmann includes over a hundred pages of glossaries and notes These include such items as lists of characters place names a complete historical timeline and Native American terms Also included are notes on the source material for every section which divulges how Vollmann made decisions for altering the historical circumstances how he developed the personalities of his characters and numerous other details Some readers find the inclusion of these details indulgent but the reality is that few authors would willingly draw back the curtain and give their readers such insight into the sausage making of writing a historical volumes In some volumes I have chosen to superficially glance at these sections but there is a lot of fun to be had within especially for a repeat reading Where are my line drawingsVollmann typically includes several bits of line art in the Dream novels However the advance reader copy I was given seemed to contain historical photos and scans of pressed specimens Vollmann does include several hand drawn maps which compare and contrast the understanding of the country between the Nez Perce and the US Army These maps are a lot of fun especially for those somewhat familiar with the country involved In particular I was a little let down not to see a line drawing of camas one of the likely suspects for illustration Vollmann s art is somewhat crude and roughhewn to me so some readers might not mind it being deemphasized in this dreamThe WritingVollmann employs some unusual text formatting to show multiple points of view internal dialogue in some cases emotional and geographical distance from the action Like all typographical shenanigans of this sort there are times when it is very successful and times when it adds little to the proceedings My advance reader copy included pages that had lost the formatting and I felt I still understood the point but the formatting does aid in comprehension In fact it contrasts greatly with text that is largely dialogue such as Gaddis JR in that Vollmann is attempting to bring clarity to a difficult style whereas Gaddis is using a difficult style to emphasize the chaos inherent in JR Overall I think the result is very effective and shouldn t be too off putting to a readerMy overall thoughtsIf La Chanson de Jerusalem you ve made it through to this pointou are probably a good candidate for reading the Dying Grass I found this to be the best of the Dreams although I have Biomedical Informatics yet to read The Rifles The Nez Perce are given a fuller treatment and I think the text gains from the existence of comtemporary first person accounts of the Nez Perce War I also found the typographical experimentation to be effective This book is a mature Vollmann at his best stretching to tell us a new tale of the conflict between the New and Old Worlds in a new way Clear out some time inour reading schedule and tie into this one Even if it takes a few nips of Docs cocaine bottle to see The Book of the Honda S2000 you through it is definitely worth the effort 55 Stars This fifth volume of Vollman s planned Seven Dreams series was very rewarding to me in the long run but at 1300 plus pages it took a commitment euivalent to reading four ordinary books That kind of reminds me how in grade school I would brag how I read a great book probably about ants and gesture it was this thick But ifou are going to take a journey into the hearts and minds of European Americans and Native Americans at war it makes sense that it might take a long time to elucidate the full storyHow was it that General Otis Howard the Christian general who worked so hard to advance the opportunities for emancipated slaves after the Civil War he was a commissioner of the ill fated Freedman s Bureau and co founder of Howard University could lead a bloody campaign to fulfill a robbery of the land of the Nez Perce tribe How was it that this tribe such peaceful friends with the white man starting with Lewis and Clarke at the beginning of the century would not go meekly onto a reservation and instead end up fighting back so desperately The Long Chase For modern people who feel bad from a distance over the tragedy of the brutal US policies to get rid of or otherwise contain the pesky Indians there is a bit of romantic reprieve in the tale of a band of about 250 warriors accompanied with perhaps 500 family members leading about 2000 soldiers on a 1200 plus mile chase over three months while fighting effectively in intervals along the way Over four pitched battles and several skirmishes the losses amounted to about 150 were killed on each side which is small on the scale of atrocities and slower adversity induced deaths that comprise the overall sweep of actions that fit most definitions of genocide Still the Nez Perce War continues to capture our imagination and is subject to a national park and a national historic trail Treat ourself to this folksong Heart of the Appaloosa YouTube by Fred Small to tap into a source of pride and tears in the mythic heroics of the tribe and Chief Joseph with accompanying images composed by school kids I was pleasantly surprised to find the link cited in the Wiki history Nez Perce homeland and route of their fighting retreatAlien CommunicationsThis well researched historical novel dispels sentimentality in such a song with intense efforts at realism Provocations in the form of brutal murders of the innocent are revealed by both whites and Indians That the majority on both sides of the conflict were sincerely interested in peaceful dignified solutions adds to a sense of tragedy and at the same time begs the uestion of why the human race continues ear after Minibeasts Under a Stone year to escalate differences and crimes of individuals into murder and war between peoples This appears to be a huge subject of interest for Vollman which I learn from other readers reporting back on his Rising Up and Rising Down a massive effort to elucidate a sort of moral algebra to account for the causes and ethics of violence With his Seven Dreams series which started in 1990 with a fictional account of Viking incursions over a millennium ago he plumbs the history of the European conuest of North America to glean meaning in the imagined evolution of relations between the invaders and indigenous peoples Given that the peoples in the New World were on their own path for 10 20 thousandears before the Europeans arrived I am struck how their differences are so extreme as to resemble a cultural collision between alien species The difficulties in communication between the tribe and US Army members have a lot to do with the events that unfolded Very few individuals could speak each other s language In one sense the overall motivation of the Nez Perce to live in freedom and autonomy and that of the whites as a whole to take their land and exploit its resources needs little translation to comprehend the irreconcilable differences Regardless the take me to our leader mentality coincides with a problem of picking an unrepresentative leader to negotiate an behalf of the diverse bands of the tribe The coerced 1855 treaty that reduced their land from 13 million acres to 75 million acres spanning parts of Washington Oregon and Idaho Territories was followed in 1863 by an agreement with a Christianized subset of the tribe to sell 90% of that land for a pittance leaving only 750000 acres in Idaho A number of bands non treaty Nez Perce refused to comply with the thief treaty and violent conflicts between them and invading settlers and miners led General Sherman by 1877 to order General Howard to force their removal to the reservation The way Vollman presents it most were ready to comply but the disrespect and overnight jailing of one old chief set a trio of oung bucks to commit atrocities on a few settlers in their rage and bravado Despite Howard s efforts to act with restraint the next step in escalation was for some of his soldiers and civilian volunteers in his force to open fire with no provocation on members of one band already committed to comply with the order that led by Chief Looking Glass A chief problem in communication seen in all conflicts with Indians from colonial times is to attribute the actions of unruly individuals on both sides to the tribe or colonial people as a whole Here every depredation by individual Indians or canny stratagem in battle is attributed by the army as due to Joseph and for the converse the Indians see aggressive actions by whites as effectively carried out by Howard whom they refer to as Cut Arm due to arm he lost to injury in the Union defeat at Chancellorsville In fact Joseph was such a pacifist he served essentially as a camp chief throughout this campaign important as a moral center for the tribe but responsible mainly for logistics and assuring the safety of the women and children And Howard struggled mightily to get consistent professional service out of his captains lieutenants civilian volunteers and Indian guides His Christian charity and teetotling ways were almost universally despised The desecration of Nez Perce bodies by their Bannock Indian contingent and by souvenir hunters among the whites was a major affront to the spiritual beliefs of the Nez Perce and key element of pervasive mistrust any promises on the part of HowardThe narrative alternates between perspectives of the Indians and that of their pursuers with the cast of characters reaching perhaps a couple dozen Through some innovative ways of rendering his prose Vollman layers present events conveyed largely through dialog with indented lines to reach into the characters unspoken perceptions emotions memories thoughts of distant families and recent visits to a brothel It takes some getting used to as racist and misogynist attitudes jealousies fears and egotistical reveries bubble up between the regular military forms of discourse among the soldiers The Civil War both Union and Seccesh experiences figures prominently in the minds of many and anger over the disaster for Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn in the previous ear is common That the Nez Perce did not participate in the pan Indian call for war by Lakota Chief Sitting Bull means less than the treacheries experienced in their recent rounding up of the Modocs in California For the Indians I give a lot of credit to Vollman s courage and imagination to try to render their uniue cultural and spiritual outlook in their daily lives and relationship with the natural world including elements of their language Horses go himini and crickets speak aikh aikh The two wives of Joseph are incredibly industrious in diverse activities such as child care tending horses gathering herbs preparing camas roots or game for meals and making his member grow long as a deer neck Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places Historical relations with other tribes and with particular sites in the west also figure largely in the Indian s mental concerns As they pass though their beloved haunts perhaps for the last time they try to settle on where to seek refuge In the lands of the Salish and Crow tribes they find they are not welcome enough for long friendships to outweigh the risk of facing war with the US Army Could an enemy of their enemies make for friendship with a traditional enemy They pin their hopes on crossing Montana and joining up with Sitting Bull and the Lakotas who successfully escaped to Canada However Howard s old friend from Civil War days Colonel Miles traveling from a northern fort along with Cheyenne scouts was able to trap the Nez Perce 90 miles from the Canadian border While about 400 surrendered perhaps 200 did escape to Canada including Joseph s daughter This ending of the long chase was particularly moving in Vollman s rendering He doesn t bother with repeating the iconic speech rendered as ending with Hear me my chiefs I am tired My heart is sick and sad From where the sun now stands I will fight no forever He seems to have doubts about the accuracy of translation and amplifying a comment into a speechHoward s End and Picking Up the Pieces Vollman has a mission of making the reader as interested in Howard as Joseph Seeing Joseph as a special hero is fulfillment of hope a guilt assuaging fantasy while Howard holds great potential for surprise How to judge him as a hero or a villain The compulsion to think that way is because of the situation we are stuck with now for problems in relations between the dominant culture aka white folks and their emulators its my government in relation to the Indians Thomas King s The Inconvenient Indian was a wonder for me in confirming the continuity from destructive national Indian policies in the 19th century through phases of merely repressive policies to the current uagmires on the issues such as sovereignity resource exploitation and survival of cultural identity I know there was virtually no political way to stop the settlers and the economic interests of the government from taking as much away from the Indians as possible But still we must want to see a person of the time trying to achieve a humane outcome for Howard to have a enlightened moral calculus If Howard was an essential part of the machine to effect a drastic constraint on the fate of the Nez Perce his aim was at least to effect a humane implementation of what was inevitable in his mind His expectation was that the few murderers of women and children would be hung and the rest peaceably moved to the reservation Miles took the credit for ending the war and he had no say over the sad fate of the survivors His success in talking the Apache chief Cochise into surrendering was similarly undermined by the later revival of the war by Geronimo I am left with ambivalent feelings about Howard Hampton Side left me feeling the same way about Kit Carson in his wonderful history of an Indian lover he even married an Indian who ended up perpetrating a devastating death march in the removal of the Navaho from their sacred lands Blood and Thunder I end up most admiring Howard for his military feat of moving his forces so long through countless adversities against a worthy and respected opponentGone are those days but there is no benefit just to say drive on that was then and this is now Today the courageous task is to make something meaningful come out of what are called Truth and Reconciliation Commissions like what is taking place in my current home of Maine There is plenty of good food for thought in deep examination of past sources of what Indians I have known refer to as cultural trauma I admire Vollman for demonstrating how his idea for a dream can use invention to tell truths that a sketchy account based on known history can t He shares some on his intentions and their factual origins in his extensive sections of notes and sources chronologies and glossaries His 200 pages of extras also includes an extensive section of historical follow ups on people and tribes Throughout the book is graced with hand drawn maps and images of plants In other words the book is an extravaganza I was glad to be loaned an e book version from Penguin Viking through the Netgalley program publication date July 28 I know the hardcopy book will be attractive to some of my friends but I can t guess who Surely there will be readers than those who took on the seriously longer book Rising Up and Rising Down After enjoying so much Philbrick s account of the first 100 ears of the Plymouth Colony in Mayflower I think his 2001 dream book Argall on the settlement of Jamestown is my best bet for a next read by this masterful author ALTERNATE REALITYThis News Just to HandThe unabridged edition of The Dying Grass is slated for release on November 23 2020 It s believed to have another 720 pages and 34 illustrations by the author oh no it can t be true Shome mishtake shurely Ed AVERSELeaves From You I YieldNested in the crotch of the fenceAround Chief Joseph s grave A copy of Leaves of GrassA drying uill a blotted blotter and A twisted white dick danglingThe Patron Saint of Empathy for Women and MenIn my fiction IInvent Haram Lokma young womenWho stem from diverseEthnic originsAnd whom I rescueFrom the desireOf all other menCome to Me Girl I Beg You Sir No Please Don tThat was how I met The gaze of a half breed girlWho did as I saidFee Fye Faux FummIngratiationIs a poor substitute forTrue blue empathyThe Fifth of Seven Wet DreamsObserve ourVoyeuristicVaingloriousAnd self esteemedMinstrel writerWilliam theSingle handedWander aroundInsert himselfInto the crotchOf the matterAnd tirelessly Probe the awfulBattle action And amorousBedroom scenes ofThe Nez Perce WarNo Litterwitcher KwitterYou won t read thisAnywhere on TwitterThis mongrel bookMakes McElroyLook even likeThe runt of the litterWilliam WilliamThe rain falls hardOn a humdrum plainThis plain has Draggedou downWilliam WilliamIt was really nothingThe Author s Covenant with the Reader A DreamFrom where The sun Now standsI will writeNo ForeverShot with His Own Sex PistolNever mind The dead horseLet s flogThe Dying GrassSOUNDTRACKNick Cave The Bad Seeds We Call Upon The Author to Explain Live at St Luke s LondonDedicated to William the Long windedWell who is this great burdensome slavering dog thingThat mediocres my every thoughtI feel like a fucking vacuum cleaner a complete suckerIts fucked up and he is a fuckerAnother volume of unreconstructed rubbishBut what an enormous and encyclopedic brainThere s a planetary conspiracy against the likes of The Keys To The House, Tree, And Person you and meI ask him to desist and to refrainI call upon the author to explainWellou know I say prolix prolixThere s nothing a pair of scissors can t fixAWARDS AND NOMINATIONSIs Long Is GoodNominee for the 2015 Is Long Is Good Award 1300 to 1400 Pages DivisionWhite Teeth Red SkinNominee for the 2015 James WoodZadie Smith Historical Realism AwardVerimisillitudeNominee for the 2015 Authentic Re enactment of an Historical Event You Had Forgotten About Since School Award Four Time WinnerMillennium Award In my opinion The Dying Grass A Novel of the Nez Perce War may be the best book of the third millennium so fared 2017 only 983 Unjust Deserts years to goPinnochinoseNever Ending StoryNominee for the 2015 Gilderoy Lockhart Best Historical Fiction Series AwardFuture Titles in The Seventeen Dreams Series Break with a Beothuk Galivanting with Young Mi kma Ghouls Holidays with Half breed Whores Travels with Tsitsistas Voyages with Jumlin Vampires Wanderings with Wolastoiyik and Year with the Yurok I was born with trousers onDRAFT SUIBS BLURBS HONEST OPINIONS AND BLURRED DROPPINGS From Unser Wilhelm s Schreibtisch Everythingou ever wanted to know about the Nez Perce War but were afraid to askDr Reuben Sandwich 1376 pages is just the right length to segregate readers between those who ll rate a book five stars and those who won t read it at allUnser Wilhelm It s long it s hard it s uncutNew York Review of Book Porn I loved this book Once I picked it up I just couldn t put it down I didn t want it to end I didn t think I d ever be able to stop writing itUnser Wilhelm A note perfect incantationKickass Reviews an anonymous review by someone who was obviously incanted at the time It s called A Novel of the Nez Perce War for a reason Vollmann s writing at least one seuelPublishers Weakly Amongst our people he s known as William the LonghandIra Kwoyz Native American author of Learn to Speak without Any Reservation Each page is not just a big slab of type on many pages there is a fair amount of white spacePaul Novak Viking editor extract from editorial report to the Viking Board We will use elegant thinner paper so the book does not massively bulk upPaul NovakViking editor If I d known Viking would do that I d have bulked it up to 3000 pagesUnser Wilhelm I obviously need to replace my glasses I thought it was going to be about the Pince Nez WarsEthyl Eyebobs Big fat brainy overwrought William T Vollmann continues his wikinovelisation project in which he plans to fictionalise every single entry in Wikipedia in not less than 700 pagesper entryThe Wikipaedic Novel The Milleons Why I Am So Wise Why I Am So Clever Why I Write Such Excellent BooksUnser Wilhelm unuse. US Army to its greatest defeat since Little Big Horn as they fled from northeast Oregon across Montana to the Canadian border Vollmann’s main character is not the legendary Chief Joseph but his pursuer General Oliver Otis Howard the brave shy tormented devoutly Christian Civil War veteran In this novel we see him

D chapter headings from his Nietzschean phase NBA 2 for this man And the Nobel goes without saying Daisy Chain from Motley Posse How strange then that Vollmann too has become lit bro shorthand This occurred to me last week after listening to a friend discuss the foibles of a bookish male acuaintance with a man bun That guy she said I just feel like he s first in line to see the William T Vollmann movie And this may be what drives some women to treat loves WTV as synonymous with is one of those motherfuckers The sense that Vollmann s status depends on something in which their participation is tacitly not reuired a clamoring among men for one another s esteemMolly Flescher THE CLIT It really does feel like a culmination of Bill s career and a total refinement of his style Mia Pufferie I absolutely totally love this dude s shit And George V. Higgins you should tooThe Pedagogic Coprophagiographer The subject of another novel is Charles a writer struggling to write a novel that would secure him his place in the modern American canonOnce upon a time it had sufficed to write The Sound and the Fury or The Sun Also Rises But now bigness was essential Thickness lengthJonathan Franzen Unaccustomed as I am to descending from my chair my throne my pedestal or getting off on my hobby horse I shall remain here and condescend instead I hereby declare myself honoured privileged grateful and aggrandised to be able to pronounce this novel delightful delectable deluxe delovely On behalf of the National Word Association Board I make recognise and commend allusions to Homer Kant Joyce Benjamin and Bakhtin not to mention Hegel Heidegger and Gass Need I say Moore Ifou only have time to read another 90 million words in what remains of Black Brothers, Inc. your lifetimeou could do no worse than make them all Bill sMichael Noddy Cirle Jirue KCR Sera This man is not only irritating but ridiculous with the particular ridiculousness of self dramatisers and poor fools convinced they ve been present at a decisive moment in history when it s common knowledge that history which is a common whore has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousnessBenno von ArchimboldiA NATIVE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE It does not reuire many words to speak the truth Chief Joseph leader of the Wal lam wat kain Wallowa band of Nez Perce The Dying Grass appears to me as a culmination of all that Vollmann has been developing through his other works that I have read We can see of what I ve termed his shifting narrative voice tricks as seen in Rifles and starkly displayed in Europe Central but I have subseuently been informed that this can be called pronomial blurring That seems a good term for it We can see language experiments and writing in dialect We can see the cycling of many leitmotivs to the extent that Vollmann seems to be creating a self contained languagelexicon of phrases within the work We can see the incredible power to make us empathize with characters we may otherwise be inclined to despise We can see irony and ambivalence which is sometimes uite difficult to disentangle from sincerity and conviction This book cannot be anything less than Vollmann s greatest work though there may be several works that are in fair contention for that title That is to say he may have eualed this achievement but I find it hard to imagine he has exceeded itThis book is like a life lived or several lives lived The experience of reading it is uite different from the experience of having read it Having read it one can look back and see a unity a rather simple narrative thread the playing out of certain themes One can also recall by conscious effort a vast array of events and details by focusing on one or two at a time while allowing the others to rest safely in the unconscious These Detached Pictures the title of the section in which most of the central drama is developed to its denouement are only rationalized to one another by the action of a memorycriticism which fills in the blanks with its own imaginings to create a meaningful essential whole Yet since the events are rooted in history as individual events they function merely as statements of what happened The holistic image is largely an illusion The author however supplies us with many leitmotivs and thematic musings to encourage our drawing connections and deriving meaning even while he resists constructing a firm and certain interpretation of events on our behalf much remains strange enigmaticIn the reading of it we are in the midst of vivid details and the immediacy of events is very involving One cannot imagine even though one knows it to be true that this is only one of many Indian wars that for the career officers this is only one of many military campaigns that their past and future lives are not entirely rooted in this present moment No In the reading of it the present is all there is it s all important it s the only truthThere are a thousand surprises in a campaign which is paradoxically portrayed as fated and inevitable so how could it surprise But reality is incredible For instance choosing to trust an eternal optimist and eternal blunderer with doom written all over him at a critical moment when experience has already proven time and again that it is impossible to trust him this seems impossible et it is true to human nature To delude oneself at a moment when clear sight could potentially save one s life seems impossible et it s common War is full of its accidents and chance occurrences but human nature is also prone to routine failures of judgment which are often predictableAll of this is present within the novelBut let s step back again and consider themesI saw one of the challenges of the book to be how to reconcile a fatalistic view with the notion that moral decisions in the moment are meaningful There is a gloomy cynicism akin to the mood of some Icelandic sagas particularly Njal s Saga the suggestion that violent conflict may be inevitable either due to human nature or due to specific cultural factors such as a sense of honor which compels rash and ultimately self destructive or others destructive acts Even if some noble individuals with nominal power wish to proceed peacefully and serve justice the context of historical injustice the actions of a few rash individuals or the influence of insults to one s honor and dignity can compel a ruinous war to occur Atrocities and violations of what is right cannot be avertedYet in the midst of this Vollmann causes us to sympathizeempathize with many parties on opposite sides of the conflict and it seems he does not want to allow us to succumb to a completely fatalistic view We still desire a justice we know cannot be served and we still want to hold the individuals accountable for their own moral decisions even if this conflicts with our tendency to forgive or rationalize their weaknessesAt the risk of being redundant I earlier posted a comment about fatalism in this book in which I saidI think that Vollmann in presenting this tale confronts us with the challenge of seeing how we are morally culpable and suggests that uestions of honor do matter even in the midst of practically unavoidable historical cataclysms Just as on a microcosmic scale what we choose to do in our own lifetimes does matter regardless of the fact that we and everyone we meet are sure to ultimately die Death does not have to lead to nihilism But Manifest Destiny only allows an act or a life to be meaningful to the degree that it contributes to an inhumane automatic progressLooking further into themes as I commented in a conversation on this novelIt seems that this book was conceived in part to undermine the view of history as the actions of great men Uh Oh Howard isn t so much in control of things as he and others might like Joseph is nothing akin to the sort of leader the Americans might suppose as his society is not structured like a military hierarchy and though every Indian action is attributed to him they have little to do with either his will or his acts Even in the midst of this the men believe their leaders to be responsible for determining everything though it s really the little people who do most of the acts of conseuenceBut this doesn t relieve anyone of the moral burden implied by their own decisionsAnd it seems far easier to do mischief than to do good whatever one s intentions may be It is sometimes infuriating I m sure intentionally so how naivecomplicitself deceiving certain characters can beI think we cannot get away from the fact that this also plays the role of a military adventure novel While I am not a combat veteran and have no special knowledge on the topic it appears to me from all I ve gathered so far on related topics thatThe book effectively communicates that chaotic mysterious element of warfare Vollmann also seems to understand or his sources understand and he transmits what marine corp theorists call friction the fact that battlefield conditions uickly produce obstacles to progress and the successful execution of any plan He also understands how crazy and important logistics and supply can beVollmann as always sites sources for his information and he draws out several suggestive uotations sometimes poignant sometimes ironic to complement the reading of the various chapters and sections Now I find myself reading Thucydides and in that book I find a uote which could just as well be placed in this novel as an expression of the American attitude towards the Indians in light of the theory of manifest destiny In this uotation we have Thucydides s version of a speech given by the Athenians before the Peloponnesian War in which they justify their unjust actions knowing that in the absence of law might makes right is the accepted law but when law exists to uphold justice people are offended by injustice than even by naked aggression our subjects are so habituated to associate with us as euals that any defeat whatever that clashes with their notions of justice whether it proceeds from a legal judgment or from the power which our empire gives us makes them forget to be grateful for being allowed to retain most of their possessions and vexed at a part being taken than if we had from the first cast law aside and openly gratified our covetousness Yes in this war as seen in this novel it is often betrayal of trust betrayal of honor betrayal of one s word or betrayal of what is right that is held offensive even than the physical acts of cruelty which confront our heroes on every side Yet so much occurs as a conseuence of our failure to comprehend the other as kin to ourselvesEven our Christian General couldn t see that The destiny of the white race in America is to eat up the red men and in this rising tide of population that rolls toward the setting sun there is no one who is backward in taking his bite no one except the government that temporizes and buys peace to avoid doing the duty that the individual is doing from choice or from necessity Phillippe R gis Denis de Keredern de Trobriand 1867Pynchon Vollmann AnalogyGravity s RainbowEurope CentralMasonDixonThe Dying GrassThis might not be my favorite novel of the last several Daddy Daughter Incest 2 Series Bundle years but it is one of the best And I can t easily grasp a novel that I liked I just don t know My brain is fried My emotions are fried My ability to look objectively at this book and history and the United States is fried One of the best compliments I can give to the best historical fiction is that it doesn t break history but fills in the gaps and bends it Hillary Mantel does this very well So too does Robert Graves John Williams and Patrick O Brian These other authors seem content to carve prose castles to tell their stories of leaders kings and periods Vollmann just drops a volcano on the reader There is just so much I was trying to describe the feeling of reading Vollmann I ve only read three Vollmann the other two were Europe Central and Whores for Gloria to my wife To me it is euivalent of reading a strange cut up method combination of Mantel Pynchon and Burroughs WHILE tripping on mushrooms But that still doesn t do it justice There is no easy metaphor for Vollmann There is no way to explain Vollmann without using Vollmann What is the only way to understand Vollmann You have to grab the biggest Vollmannou can find and jump in without fear and without looking back He is big vicious kind detailed warm clinical He just doesn t stop He is exhausting and frustrating He is the literary euivalent of Hieronymus Bosch He is the hardest working hypergraphic around I can t imagine Vollmann is very profitable to Viking There are just NOT that many people jostling in the age of Twitter where the demands of reading and writing are limited to 140 characters to read 1376 pages of digressive experimental innerouter stream of consciousness narrative fiction However I know why they keep him on their Viking reservation the guy WILL win the Nobel prize someday Guaranteed This dude has a long harsh tailOver the next couple days I m going to add paragraphs on1 Nez Perce War2 Nez Perce vs US Army3 US treatment of Native Americans4 Nez Perce Trail5 My own Private Idaho6 American Indian as myth7 Names and NamingPerhaps If I can recover my wits It is all the same Let us kill die or ride away Before I say anything about Greatness I d like to say that I am grateful for having read The Dying Grass For being able to read it privileged to read it To have had the opportunity to read it Thankful to Viking for having stuck by Vollmann so long for having supported his novels I am sad to know that Carla Bolte was not able to design this book as she had so many of Vollmann s I can t help but think it would have been better in her hands The Dying Grass is a sad novel a tragedy I think And so odd to say one is grateful to have read such a thing and to even have delighted in reading it But such is the experience of art If that experience is cathartic is it good for me and merely for me Should such an experience place me into an anguish of guilt for having inherited the displacement of our native peoples because I have never not lived on expropriated land Does it assist in a workingthrough of where we have found ourselves Doesn t it bring to our attention that there is even something to be worked through in the first place Isn t it simply a novel by a white american for other white americans I don t know what would it be like for a Native American to read Vollmann s Seven Dreams Painful and hurtful which fact Vollmann acknowledges Without going into an analysis beyond my abilities when Benjamin said that history is written by the victor did the possibility of Vollmann s Dreams occur to him that the victor might be capable of writing this kind of history I am grateful for the reception The Dying Grass has received both from the dedicated Vollmanniac to be expected but too from those not already immersed in and dedicated to his books Frankly the reception took me by surprise The page count is remarked upon but repeatedly found to be either necessary or immersive The arrangement of words and sentences on the page is remarked upon and found to be engaging I can t help but contrast its reception with that of Argall which seemed to be too much for not only the reading public but for the professional reviewers the LA Times resorting to hiring William the Blind to review it But Argall is engaging and rewarding and immersive beyond that initial set of off putting characteristics it appears difficult but is not beyond readerly capabilities I can t help but think the internet community of readers has better prepared the world to take on this kind of fiction having supplanted a lackadaisical professional reviewing culture which already knows what a fiction should be James Wood et al Time was when learning about books and what they are like was limited to a small set of jaded professionals now we have a engaged readership passing word about what it s like what it feels like Maybe I m too optimistic here but just imagine what reviews of The Dying Grass would have looked like in 2001Some of this is due to a certain maturing in Vollmann s writing in his strategies and orientations toward his material The Dying Grass feels so different from earlier Dreams less playful less winking fewer appearances of William the Blind Those elements I missed here But that change or shift or maturing simply reflects both the stuff about which Vollmann is writing and the mode he employs the two always mutually determining each other The Seven Dreams was conceived than twenty five ears ago The Ice Shirt being published in 1990 And the stuff of these Dreams moves closer to our own times The Ice Shirt is full of european mythology of transformations it takes place in those days when putting on The Bear Shirt transformed a person into a bear The land of Vinland began to transform The same happens with T girls in the Tenderloin But as our european civilization moves toward our present day transformation and mythical experience attenuates there are fewer and fewer experiences of transformation or transformation overwhelms us in technology beautiful and almost automatic rather than liberating us within our being with one another Vollmann s Dreams develop from mythical transformation to the uestion of what is in one s heart Uh Oh Howard what is in our heart And The Dying Grass is called a masterpiece Dare me to disagree Scarcely can one say that a 1200 page novel might be perfect And of course it is inclusive of whatever flaws in may contain And if only to agree with the masterpiece judgement I d insist that it is not so much The Dying Grass but the entire Seven Dreams which constitute his masterpiece The entire project in both its unity and diversity within its development and persistence of theme Much as I adore his other novels and find many of his non fiction books less than fully satisfying my jaw simply drops to Joycean levels when I contemplate the five extant Dreams I m not intimate with the Nobel but if anything ualifies via its criteria these Seven Dreams Much of what holds these Dreams together in their totality despite the diversity of materials and manners of composition of authorial orientation towards the text is the mode Vollmann has taken to represent the Native American characters And in The Dying Grass I think he s brought this mode to its pinnacle a pinnacle several of us have identified as Homeric an epic mode I won t say Vollmann had Homer specifically in mind but it is enough to recall how central the Icelandic Sagas have been for Vollmann those Sagas employing what I following Bakhtin think of as the epic mode Such a mode is above all a manner of presenting characters Whereas the development and history of the novel can be traced along the lines of ever increasing degrees of portrayal of the inner life of characters culminating in the Molly chapter of Ulysses the epic mode is all externality all gesture All words spoken no thoughts all action The part about interiority as central to the novel mode is something James Woods gets right but what he gets wrong is that the novel has no troubles incorporating non novelistic modes and thus Vollmann incorporates the epic mode of characterization in his Seven Dreams Why Because of his respect for what is other other not as exotic but other as independent the Kantian respect of persons I call this making room for his characters allowing them their space rather than impinging trespassing into an inner realm into which we have not been invited frankly To have entered the mind of Joseph would have been overstepping a respectful relation with Joseph would have been imperialistic would have been expropriative While Howard s mind is our own and thus ought to be probed because he have inherited it And in The Dying Grass this epic mode is brought to completion with the extended use of extended metaphor feeling so close to the Fagles treatment of Homer the centrality of the Landscape being a near culmination of the heart of the Seven Dreams project In short I am simply grateful for having the opportunity to delight in this Dream Indeed we are setting fire we are burning the dying grass we shall kill these Bluecoats as they have killed our people we shall catch them all on fireMighty brave seeing This Many Miles From Desire you still here son Not many in a proper mind would keep pushing over 1200 pages Meansou got sandDo ou pray oung Reader Do Sermons Not Spoken you see the celestial dynamics unfolding in our triumphWhat s thatou mumbling Can t stand that enunciate Dn ouThat weary ache from holdin and reading Son that s admiration See son I wanted balance and to uphold that fluidity and follow the facts I had to digress as well as maintain for the full duration Uncle Billy would agree Don t forget General Sherman ain t no war criminal because we are winners This train is bound for Glory not the Hague The story of this campaign is one somehow not included in any of my American History classes The Nez Perce were moved from a large reservation and told to go to another about 110th the size Most refused There were some retaliations and the war began The US Army chased Joseph and his tribe from southeast Washington across Idaho into Montana into Yellowstone and back north to almost the Canadian border There were skirmishes along the way By October 1877 in northern Montana the People Indians were cold wounded and beginning to starve If I had understood how Vollmann writes I might never have started this and that would have been my loss While the novel is long War and Peace long that isn t the real challenge in reading this novel The prose itself flows easily enough Vollmann has chosen to have nested paragraphs and sometimes he interrupts himself often in mid sentence to provide a character s thoughts There might be a conversation and one of the chara. S commander father son husband friend and killer Teeming with many vivid characters on both sides of the conflict and written in a style in which the printed page works as a stage with multiple layers of foreground and background The Dying Grass is another achievement from one of the most ambitious writers of our tim.

William Tanner Vollmann is an American novelist journalist short story writer and essayist He lives in Sacramento California with his wife and daughter