15 June 2009

Whores for Gloria, by William T. Vollmann

The premise of this book is sort of interesting - a man haunts the streets of San Francisco, talking to and having sex with prostitutes, trying to recreate a woman named Gloria, who may or may not be real. At first it seems he's trying to remember her, then the text sort of shifts and it's more like he's actually trying to flesh her out and sort of reconstruct her. So he talks to these other women and asks them to tell him their memories, then he later retells their stories to himself, but with Gloria in the main role. It's kind of fascinating, in that the stories change, so you get this kind of view into the creative process, and indeed their memories do start to seem like hers. The prose is also quite lyrical, a kind of drugged out poetics, with sentences that ramble on and on. The problem is though, that the book gets kind of dull quite quickly, which is odd for such a short text. Ultimately, I think, it'd be better as a short story. 

Actually, one of the more interesting aspects is the end of the book, which includes excerpts of Vollmann's interviews with prostitutes, where you see whole chunks of dialogue from the book, and you realize that he's actually captured the style quite effectively. It's a really nice touch. 

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