Vollmann’s ‘Imperial’ country



William T. Vollmann, the author whose exhaustive research helps to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction, and whose books tend to be measured by the pound, has a new book coming out titled Imperial. The 1300-page tome looks at the arid California-Mexico border, and its culture and people, from many angles.

The New York Times tours the border zone with the author and offers snapshots of the fence, the people who live on both sides, the horrendously polluted New River, and an American graveyard where the bodies of people who have died crossing the border are buried.

The piece, which includes links to an excerpt and a slide show of locations, doesn’t even make clear whether the book is a novel or not; somehow, that’s fitting. It is actually non-fiction.

New York magazine has a piece on the book, along with a link to an interview with Vollmann’s editor, Paul Slovak.

Mark Pritchard is the author of the novel How They Scored and the collections of sex stories "Too Beautiful" and "How I Adore You." He lives in San Francisco. More from this author →