Whores for Gloria

Whores for Gloria

by William T. Vollmann
     
 

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With his first three works of fiction—the novels You Bright and Risen Angels and The Ice-Shirt, and the collection The Rainbow Stories—William T. Vollmann announced himself as a writer of rare and ferocious talent, with critics comparing him to William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and T.C. Boyle.
 
His new novel is the story…  See more details below

Overview

With his first three works of fiction—the novels You Bright and Risen Angels and The Ice-Shirt, and the collection The Rainbow Stories—William T. Vollmann announced himself as a writer of rare and ferocious talent, with critics comparing him to William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and T.C. Boyle.
 
His new novel is the story of Jimmy, who has been deserted by his lover, a prostitute by the name of Gloria. In the despair of his loneliness, and his drunken grief, he reassembles Gloria’s presence out of whatever he can buy from the hookers on the street—the fragments of their lives and dreams, and locks of hair they are willing to share for a price. In his search for these snatches of intimacy he meets the hustlers, drunks, and prostitutes of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district: Candy, who beats her customers when they ask for it but refuses to let them call her a bitch; Snake, who pimps his wife; Nicole, whose job it is to give men AIDS; Jack, who shoots his woman’s earnings into his arm but still likes Chopin even though he doesn’t have a record player; and Gloria, who may or may not be a figment of Jimmy’s imagination.
 
Vollmann writes with explosive power of the inner city, unflinching in the way he confronts the solitude of the homeless and unloved, the insulted and the injured of skid-row America. His exhilarating, high-voltage style and lyric language touch the heart and retrieve a jubilant integrity from the harsh struggles of his characters. Here is a world of harrowing truth, beautifully expressed by a writer of prodigious gifts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This brief novel by the gifted Vollmann ( You Bright and Risen Angels ) finds Jimmy, a drifter in San Francisco's Tenderloin demimonde since his discharge from service in Vietnam in the late '60s, struggling with a feminine ideal given the name Gloria. In his mind, she assumes the identities of wife, ex-wife, virgin, whore, representing an abstracted need which Jimmy must fill. And so he vows, ``Starting now and for the rest of his life he was going to work at seeing Gloria and remembering her.'' His main means: engaging prostitutes (including transvestites) for sex and storytelling. Based on their tales of their lives, he cerebrally romances each into a more or less palpable vision of his beloved. Jimmy's possession of Gloria is realized by Chapter 28, yet it is also strongly implied that Gloria never existed. The concluding Chapter 29 (exuberant and vivid, it contains the finest writing in the book), however, blows this hypothesis away, as it does Jimmy. So coy and nondefinitive are the work's main parameters that the heart of the matter--erotic, moral, psychological--remains beyond our grasp; akin to a piano sonata with variations, the novel raises new and different expectations not altogether fulfilled. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Jimmy, a down-and-out Vietnam vet, spends his disability checks drinking in skid row bars and paying streetwalkers to tell him their life stories. Later, alone in his hotel room, he reassigns the memories he has collected to Gloria, his imaginary girlfriend. In his 1989 collection The Rainbow Stories ( LJ 6/15/89), Vollmann himself wandered the streets of San Francisco paying prostitutes for talk. Apart from the heartbreaking frame-story of Jimmy, this new book seems to consist of outtakes from the earlier book--gritty scenes of almost surreal depravity and squalor. Unfortunately, Vollmann the urban anthropologist subverts the efforts of Vollmann the novelist. In the end, one wishes he had devoted less space to the whores and more to Jimmy and his hallucinatory quest for love. A minor work by an important author.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307827722
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/02/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
885,731
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

William T. Vollmann has won the Whiting Foundation Award and the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Award for his fiction.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Sacramento, California
Date of Birth:
July 28, 1959
Place of Birth:
Santa Monica, California
Education:
Attended Deep Springs College and Cornell University

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