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The Rainbow Stories

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Overview

From a writer who has won comparison with Thomas Pynchon and William S. Burroughs comes thirteen unnerving and often breathtaking stories populated by punks and angels, skinheads and religious assassins, streetwalkers and fetishists—people who live outside the law and and the clear light of the every day. Set in landscapes as diverse as ancient Babylon, India, and the seamy underbelly of San Francisco, these daring and innovative tales are laced with Vollman's fertile imagination. The Rainbow Stories ushers us ...

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Overview

From a writer who has won comparison with Thomas Pynchon and William S. Burroughs comes thirteen unnerving and often breathtaking stories populated by punks and angels, skinheads and religious assassins, streetwalkers and fetishists—people who live outside the law and and the clear light of the every day. Set in landscapes as diverse as ancient Babylon, India, and the seamy underbelly of San Francisco, these daring and innovative tales are laced with Vollman's fertile imagination. The Rainbow Stories ushers us into a world that bears an awful yet hypnotic resemblance to that of our deepest nightmares, confirming Vollman's reputation as a dark visionary of contemporary fiction.

Here are 13 daring and innovative tales dealing with "skinheads, x-ray patients, whores, lovers, fetishists, and other lost souls" who populate landscapes as diverse as ancient Babylon, India, and contemporary San Francisco. Part fiction, part reportage, these narratives are laced with a bleak and bitter humor, and portray a dazzling array of characters.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This stunning collection consists of 13 knockout stories, ranging in length from a few pages to a short novel, corresponding idiosyncratically to the colors of the spectrum. With an intensity and dexterity previously evinced in You Bright and Risen Angels , Vollman shifts mood from the leisurely, almost-detached account of the brutal contemporary San Francisco streetlife of skinheads ``White Knights'' and prostitutes ``Ladies and Red Lights'' to the surreal ``Scintillant Orange,'' in which we meet three biblical martyrs to Babylonian Nabuchadnezzar's fiery furnace. ``Indigo Engineers'' juxtaposes mechanized objects of destruction, built for a sort of performance-art piece, with the just-following-orders mentality of Nazis. A serial killer with a dual personality murders winos with Drano in ``The Blue Yonder,'' which documents the lives of alcoholics living in shelters or parks. Whether recounting a tale of a band of Indian thugs a la Munchausen, laconically noting episodes in personal relationships or dealing with the relentless realism of skinheads and hookers, Vollman writes with deadpan humor, self-assurance and incredible ability. July
Library Journal
These long, interlocking short stories comprise an anthropological field report from San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, 20 years after the Summer of Love. The author's stated goal is simply to retell--``unaltered, unverified''--the stories told to him by down-and-out street people such as Brandi the prostitute, Marisa the neo-Nazi bootwoman, and Carolina the saintly wino. Much of the action takes place offstage, in trauma centers, detox wards, and autopsy labs, with extensive footnotes citing relevant textbooks of pathology and criminal justice. This is a far more coherent book than Vollmann's first novel, You Bright and Risen Angels ( LJ 5/15/87), and clearly places him in the front ranks of contemporary authors. Highly recommended, but definitely not for the squeamish.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
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Product Details

Meet the Author

William T. Vollmann

William T. Vollmann is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. Vollman's writing has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, Esquire, Conjunctions, Granta, and many other magazines. He lives in California.

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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2001

    I WAS THERE AND HE NAILED IT

    I was one of the Height street punks in the early 80s. I was on the streets of SF for a time and was roomates with Dicky Discusting (Frank) and Boot Woman. I also knew Mark Dagger and many of the shinheads in the book where I lived in a world that few could comprehend. It was like bizzaro world and if anyone could ever capture the pure insanity of that place, Volmann has. I have read other reviewers refur to his 'cast of colorful charactors' as if he made them up. Believe me, he masterfully retold a chapter in my life as I thought nobody could. I found it reviting to see old friends from the streets of Sanfran brought back to life. Ian Mouer fordman50@visto.com

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