The Book of Dolores

Overview

William T. Vollmann has travelled to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan with Islamic commandos, shivered out a solitary stretch at the North Magnetic Pole in winter, hopped freight trains, studied the stately ancient beauties of Japanese Noh theater, and made friends with street prostitutes all over the world—all in the interest of learning a little more about life. Now in his mid-fifties, Vollmann sets out on what may well be impossible for a heterosexual genetic male: to envision himself as a woman. In these ...
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Overview

William T. Vollmann has travelled to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan with Islamic commandos, shivered out a solitary stretch at the North Magnetic Pole in winter, hopped freight trains, studied the stately ancient beauties of Japanese Noh theater, and made friends with street prostitutes all over the world—all in the interest of learning a little more about life. Now in his mid-fifties, Vollmann sets out on what may well be impossible for a heterosexual genetic male: to envision himself as a woman. In these photographs, block prints, and watercolor drawings, he portrays his alter ego, Dolores, with whimsicality, and sometimes with cruelty—for Dolores would like to be attractive, or at least to “pass,” but the ageing male body in which she remains confined requires lowered expectations. Meanwhile, the drawings and block prints, composed with the artist’s glasses off, show Dolores as she imagines herself to be. The Book of Dolores brings the genre of self-portraits to a new level of vulnerability and bravery. In the process, it offers virtuoso performances of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first-century photographic techniques, including the seductively difficult gum bichromate method. Each section of the book is accompanied by an essay on motives and techniques. 
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Whether or not it turns him on, whether or not it makes him feel more like, or better than, himself, becoming Dolores in words and images gives Vollmann one more way to say that his own world is what he can make it."
-Stephen Burt, New Yorker

"Indeed, many of the images in “The Book of Dolores” have a garish sideshow quality: Dolores with whip and dog collar; Dolores with a noose around her neck; Dolores as a deranged clown...The results are shocking — a sense of shock that Mr. Vollmann cultivates. Sometimes he even scares himself."
-The New York Times

"Vollmann's latest, The Book of Dolores, is perhaps his most unusual, which is no small assertion."
-Newsweek

"A major writer has left us alone in his studio to play around with his tools: cameras, film, developing baths, brushes, paints, pencils and pens. He has left us alone in the studio of his sex."
-New York Observer

"The results of the experiment are undeniably transfixing, a mixed-media look at a raw and intimate transformation."
-New York magazine's The Cut blog

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576876572
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 857,248
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

William T. Vollmann
William T. Vollmann was born in California in 1959. He has worked as a journalist for BBC Radio, The New Yorker, Spin, Granta, The Los Angeles Times, and other venues. He is the author of a number of various works of fiction and nonfiction, including Europe Central (Viking, 2005), which won the National Book Award, Poor People (Ecco Press, 2007), which won the French Prix du Meilleur livre étranger in the essay category, and the seven-volume essay on violence Rising Up and Rising Down (McSweeny’s, 2003). He is especially proud of having been (as he found from reading his FBI file) both a Unabomber suspect and an anthrax suspect. Although many of Vollmann’s books and articles contain his photographs and drawings, the first work exclusively devoted to his photography was Imperial, which powerHouse published in 2008 (while Viking brought out an accompanying text volume of the same name).

Biography

Fearless, ambitious, and wildly original, William T. Vollmann has been lionized as one of the most significant and influential voices in contemporary postmodernist literature. His dauntingly voluminous books, a hodgepodge of fiction and journalism, are marked by bold, often beautiful language. They also spring from personal experience: Volmann is famous for total immersion in his subjects. His research has taken him to the ends of the earth – to the North Pole, to war zones around the globe, and (perhaps most famously) to San Francisco's notorious Tenderloin district to gain a better understanding of its notorious denizens..

Vollmann roared onto the literary scene in 1987 with You Bright and Risen Angels, a bold and quirky debut novel that chronicled in allegorical fashion the bitter battle between insects and the inventors of electricity. From that point on, his books became less surreal and more gritty. In 1992, he wrote his first "official" work of nonfiction, An Afghanistan Picture Show , an impressionistic chronicle of his experiences among the Afghan rebels in the early 1980s. Since then, the prolific author has produced an unstoppable juggernaut of prose, most notably installments in his towering fictional sequence Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes and a labyrinthine seven-volume treatise on violence called Rising Up, Rising Down. Published by the iconoclastic publishing house McSweeney's in 2003, this magnum opus was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction.

In 1999, The New Yorker named Vollmann one of the 20 best American writers under the age of 40. In 2005, he was awarded the National Book Award for Fiction for Europe Central, a 750-page series of linked stories set in Germany and Russia during World War II. His journalism continues to appear in such magazines as Esquire, Spin, Gear, Outside, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, and The New Yorker. In addition, he has founded the Co-Tangent Press as a vehicle for publishing his own limited edition art books.

Good To Know

Vollmann wrote his first novel, You Bright and Risen Angels, while working as a computer programmer.

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    1. Also Known As:
      m the Blind, Captain Subzero
    2. Hometown:
      Sacramento, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 28, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Santa Monica, California
    1. Education:
      Attended Deep Springs College and Cornell University

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