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The Rifles

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The Rifles establishes more firmly than ever before that William Vollmann is, in the words of the The Washington Post, "the most prodigiously talented and historically important American novelist under thirty-five." This work, the sixth in Vollmann's projected seven-novel cycle examining the clash of native Americans and their European colonizers, is at once a gripping tale of adventure, a contemporary love story, and a chronicle of the ongoing destruction of Inuit lifeways. It is one hundred and fifty years ago....
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1st Edition, Fine/VG+ Very faint 1/8" x 1/2" stain DJ spine not visible from outside, o.w. clean, tight and bright. No ink names, tears, chips, etc. Price unclipped. ISBN ... 0670848565 Read more Show Less

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1994 Hard cover Illustrated. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 432 p. Contains: Illustrations. Seven Dreams: A Book of North American ... Landscapes (Hardcover), 6. Audience: General/trade. OUT OF PRINT. Stylistic daring and gritty realism characterize Vollmann's writing, weaving stories from the past with his own travels. Most dramatic here is his eerie account of a midwinter solo trip to the North Magnetic Pole during which he himself almost lost his life. Read more Show Less

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NY 1994 Hardcover 1st Edition New in New jacket Book. 12mo-over 6?-7?" tall. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing).

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Overview

The Rifles establishes more firmly than ever before that William Vollmann is, in the words of the The Washington Post, "the most prodigiously talented and historically important American novelist under thirty-five." This work, the sixth in Vollmann's projected seven-novel cycle examining the clash of native Americans and their European colonizers, is at once a gripping tale of adventure, a contemporary love story, and a chronicle of the ongoing destruction of Inuit lifeways. It is one hundred and fifty years ago. Our continent has been mapped east, west, and south, but the white explorers who hope to discover the Northwest Passage have found only ice and death. Sir John Franklin - cheerful, determined, and dangerously rigid - sets out to complete the Passage with hundreds of men and supplies for three years. This is the third Arctic expedition he has commanded; on both of the others he has defied the warnings of the Inuit and Indians he's encountered along the way. This time he's not coming back. By 1990, Franklin and his mapmakers have conquered. In the prefabricated towns of the Canadian North, teenagers are sniffing gasoline, and the Inuit families who were forcibly relocated by the government in the 1950s are starving and have lost their sense of purpose. Reepah, a young Inuk woman in hopeless circumstances, is seduced and left pregnant by a white man who, terrified by his own self, prepares to assume Franklin's fate. Written with the same stylistic daring and gritty realism which has characterized all of his work, The Rifles weaves together these stories form the past and the present with Vollmann's own travels. Most dramatic of all is his eerie account of a midwinter solo trip to the North Magnetic Pole, which he put himself through at considerable personal risk in order to relive, through imagination, the last days of the Franklin expedition.

The latest installment of Vollmann's seven-part epic chronicling the clash of Europeans and Native Americans in the New World. Volume six focuses on the white explorers of the mid-1800s, desperately dreaming of forging a Northwest passage.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Rifles is the ``sixth dream'' in Vollmann's staggeringly ambitious Seven Dreams sequence, which promised to be an imaginative charting of the European conquest and settling of North America. And it is the third dream to be published (Vollmann is breaking chronological order), following The Ice-Shirt and Fathers and Crows , which detailed the Viking arrival in Newfoundland at the end of the first millenium and the French foray into the St. Lawrence River region in the middle of the second, respectively . The Rifles jumps to about 1850 and chronicles, in a highly impressionistic manner (though, like all Vollmann's work, it is prodigiously researched and gracefully written), Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. By now, more than 2000 pages into the Dreams project, an evolving structure is becoming evident. Whereas in the previous two books, contemporary references were kept to a minimum, in this volume the authorial present, in the guise of Captain Subzero, is a strong structural element. In fact, the central imaginative conceit is that Subzero/Vollmann (the author's own trip to the Arctic Circle is detailed in the endnotes) becomes a spiritual ``twin'' of Franklin, even sharing the same Inuk woman. Readers wishing for a dramatic re-creation of Franklin's expedition will be disappointed, for Vollmann is more interested in the cultural clash between Europeans and Arctic natives, and the rough fates of both. The elliptical, frenetically snapshot style grows tiresome at times, and one has the sense that Vollmann is desperately at work on historical material that is yielding little that is new, making his own increased presence a necessity. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In an endnote to the latest installment in a projected seven-volume series, Vollmann states, ``I have mixed my colors . . . from the palate of times.'' The Rifles addresses three historical topics in one hallucinatory narrative: the disastrous Franklin expedition to the North Pole in the 1840s, the Canadian government's forced relocation of Inuit families in the 1950s, and the devastating effects of Western technology on indigenous peoples. Captain Subzero, the book's narrator, journeys to Northern Canada in the 1990s, where he encounters the gasoline-sniffing descendants of a once-proud hunting race. Obsessed with Franklin, he retreats to a remote island outpost to experience cold and starvation firsthand. Huddled in his useless high-tech sleeping bag, Subzero ``becomes'' Franklin in a long fever dream that comprises most of the book. The text is augmented by maps, drawings, bibliographical notes, and a ``consumer's report'' on the equipment used. The Rifles is the best of the ``Seven Dreams'' series and one of Vollmann's most enjoyable books.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Mary Ellen Quinn
Long, dense, and complicated, "The Rifles" is the sixth volume in Vollmann's series of novels chronicling the history of North America. This time, he deals with the Arctic, moving back and forth in time between the present day and the nineteenth century, when Sir John Franklin, a British explorer, sailed in search of a Northwest Passage. Having made three previous Arctic voyages, the aging Franklin is confident of the success of his fourth expedition. However, his ships are icebound for several years, and the enterprise ends in disaster. Meanwhile, in the 1990s, a white man known as Captain Subzero becomes obsessed with Reepah, an Indian woman living in the Northwest Territories town of Resolute, where a number of Inuit families had been forcibly moved some 40 years before. As the two strands of the novel unwind, it becomes apparent that Captain Subzero is a reincarnation of Sir John Franklin and that Franklin is also in some way Subzero. Vollmann's most compelling sections deal with Franklin's ill-fated expedition and the growing hopelessness of his men as they face starvation and death. The shifts in time, the characters that appear in one century and reappear in another, the nature of the landscape, and Vollmann's imaginative powers suffuse the book with a dreamlike quality; moreover, with maps and other illustrations, four different glossaries, and a long list of sources, the book is challenging to read. Even so, the prolific Vollmann, with four books in 1992 and two in 1993 (one of which, "Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaths" , is a "Booklist" Editor's Choice title for 1993) is widely popular.
From Barnes & Noble
Sixth in a series of critically acclaimed historical novels examining the clash of Native Americans & their European colonizers. "The Seven Dreams sequence is likely to become one of the masterpieces of the century."--Madison Smartt Bell, Chicago Tribune.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670848560
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/24/1994
  • Series: Seven Dreams Series, #6
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 20.00 (w) x 20.00 (h) x 20.00 (d)

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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