William T. Vollmann
Harper Perennial, $16.95, 464 pp.
The prolific novelist, journalist, and essayist William Vollmann possesses a readership divided between passionate followers who laud his every book, and critics who consider his work garrulous and unwieldy. Flipping through Poor People, I found myself siding at first with the critics. The book—Vollmann calls it an essay—is indeed unwieldy, its 294 pages followed by 20 pages of notes and 128 more of photographs. But by the time I finished, I had repented and...
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