Free eBook The Royal FamilyAuthor William T. Vollmann –

Since The Publication Of His First Book In , William T Vollmann Has Established Himself As One Of The Most Fascinating And Unconventional Literary Figures On The Scene Today Named One Of The Twenty Best Writers Under Forty By The New Yorker In , Vollmann Received The Best Reviews Of His Career For The Royal Family, A Searing Fictional Trip Through A San Francisco Underworld Populated By Prostitutes, Drug Addicts, And Urban Spiritual Seekers Part Biblical Allegory And Part Skewed Postmodern Crime Novel, The Royal Family Is A Vivid And Unforgettable Work Of Fiction By One Of Today S Most Daring Writers

10 thoughts on “The Royal Family

  1. says:

    True compassion is than flinging a coin to a beggar it is not haphazard and superficial It comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring Martin Luther King, Jr. Before my change in career paths became a creature of definite construction, one of my required classes for graduation was 183EW, Engineering Ethics, one of a few choices in a category that every engineer was required to take part in at some point in their college career Mad scientists and human experimentation and the torture of innocents in the name of the cold dry idol of Science, you know Can never be too careful these days Anyways, the class was taught by a former History professor who decided it would be cost effective to take the slides from the previous subject and, inserting a little of his own work former military contractor , pass it off as a study of ethics through ages Long story short, even with the TA going over the actual ethical systems and problems demanded by standards of education, it was a load of crap However, near the end of the quarter, examples of these ethical disasters began to crop up in class as well as discussion One of these cases was that of the 1971 Ford Pinto, which had a nasty habit of, upon being struck while going 40 mph or faster, simultaneously jamming its doors and buckling its gas tank, giving passengers an excellent chance of burning to death with no hope of rescue When Ford was taken to court, part of their argument against fixing this issue was a cost benefit analysis showing that, in the long run, it would be cheaper to let the customers burn They lost, they paid, and they moved on to the roads and commercials of today.Now, out of this entire class, this is where real progress could have been made, had the professor cared to make it For it is likely that all the students got out of this uncomfortable little history lesson was don t cut corners, but if you do, don t get caught You don t get consideration for human beings, you don t get public outcry over putting a cost on a human life, you don t even get anyone in the corporation sent to jail No, you get a slap on the wrist and a story retold in Engineering Ethics classes, if the professor isn t feeling lazy.I don t believe in instinctive goodwill in every human being any, or at least I don t believe it can survive in the majority of those who choose to participate in this society of ours Not when I read a book like this and realize how much of my common sense and modern sensibility is instinctively disgusted by those who have fallen through the cracks and are left to suffer and survive on the fringes What part of my ethics class taught me how to recognize the abusive stigmatization of women through rape culture and the outlawing of prostitution What lecture did I miss that delved into race relations and the choke hold that heterosexual white people wield over the finer things in life, from the top tier governmental positions to the noxiously omnipresent ideologies in popular culture Which discussion did I glaze over that expounded on the cycle that knocks a person down through violence, poverty, addiction, runs them through the jail cell and then the streets and back again, gets them so used to the futility of scrabbling towards a better life that they settle down into those hobos in the parks and those whores in the streets Because somehow I learned how to fear, be disgusted by, and finally ignore these people who adapted so well to their conditions that they no longer mind the smell or the haphazard twists of their brain Neither the pain nor the worry reaches them any longer, and to a person who has through sheer circumstance of birth has managed to keep their civilized faculties in check, this is downright unacceptable How dare they intrude upon my life and remind me of the sordid underbellies of the world, separated from the realm of acceptable people by a few feet of space and infinite fields of ideologies How dare they be so coarse, so foul, so lazy Surely they deserve it, in some way Surely they had all the chances I ve had, so why did they waste them all and end up like this Surely.It took many books to accustom myself to the fact that this wasn t the case, and it was this one that struck the lesson home Vollmann has given us a rare gift here an unflinchingly thorough and, importantly, a painfully compassionate glimpse into the lives of those who survive the splicing of their selves to the system in their own ways, whether in the dank alleyways of Tenderloin or the heartless citadels of the Financial District He went where I, a coward both out of personal flaws and physical necessity, could never hope to go, and brought back tales where there are no heroes Villainous martyrs and martyrish villains, where one can smile and smile and be a villain, and another can whore and whore and be a saint He does it through prose that effortlessly swings back and forth between the sanctified and the sullied, laying the fervor of crack addicts alongside the emotion of the domestic living room, setting side by side the good of the Queen of Whores and the evil of the Prosperous Businessman, painting the world in the colors of shit and sealing wax, of cabbages, of cunts.If it wasn t for the trigger happy hypocrisy of book banners the world over, I would let myself wish that this book would be referenced in classrooms For that to be, though, there would have to be a new breed of subject, one required for any human being that wishes to go out into the world with a degree in hand Something that combines ethics with sociology and adds in dashes of empathy and literature, strips and ameliorates each component to make a new breed of goodwill, one that sees the larger scope of things and cares for each and every one of those that falls victim to the throes of an agonizingly selective system.For whatever it is that schools are teaching us, it s not enough to overcome real world conditioning, and barely anyone is inclined to question the issues of something that grants them what they believe to be a pure mix of freedom and happiness , free of guilt and depression and hankerings for anything different Fewer still wish to study it and commit themselves to developing theoretical solutions that may never find a handhold during one s lifetime It s a hopelessly huge problem, and with politicians and businessmen on one side and ones need for financial stability on the other, why bother even considering it Because the people and the literature and the subjects that consider the socioeconomic hydra often find themselves surviving for centuries, records to be found by those who will recognize the issues of long ago to be fully present today, perhaps in some other insidiously pervasive form but there nonetheless, and be spurred on to combat them however they can, despite seemingly overwhelming odds and complete lack of success These figures and stories of the past survive for a reason One hopes that this book will be one of them.

  2. says:

    Some books are very obviously flawed, contrived in ways which slow down the reader s progress and heavily tax his her ability to dredge up empathy over the headache inducing frenzy of loaded work weeks And yet these narratives are so divine in their earnestness, so far reaching in their scope, that you are filled with this overwhelming, earth shattering zeal to shower them with a holy love and not let even a drop of your skepticism dilute your admiration for the writer s boldness Your cowardice and inaction dictate you honor his unstated wish and this is the least you can do anyway Embrace it all the two faced treachery perpetuated by the torchbearers of civilization, the endless cycle of degradation and corruption and the myriad sorrows of all the characters which bleed into its pages Take one swig after another from the truth flask until you have been purged of all your self indulgent guilt trips and left with nothing but a crushing hopelessness which devours all other emotions with a vindictive fury There s us, cocooned in the warm illusion of security, dissecting the politics of injustice from our ivory towers, wholly in denial of our bubble of happiness feeding off the despair of others In an effort to scramble toward whatever glamourous concept of affluence it is we consider salvation, we do not see the charred wreckage of lives strewn all around There s the woman of flesh and bone who becomes a grotesque assimilation of mere genitals, who can only be an abstract embodiment of the abuse with no human face a walking, breathing cunt for hire whose existence you acknowledge only when you require its use Every once in a while she leaves crack addicted babies with no fathers in the maze of foster care or dumps them like inanimate blobs of flesh in seedy abortion clinics She only lives in those documentaries harbouring Oscar nomination ambitions, at the precipice of our segregated utopias merging with the abyss of the Tenderloins of the world And the sanctimonious laws state with conviction, that the Tenderloins and the red light areas do not exist There are the hobos, the panhandlers, the bums, the destitute not allowed to be anything other than victims of their own ineptitude, worthy of a stray sympathetic glance and a few seconds of pity, to be religiously warded off our vaunted inner sanctums There is Henry Tyler, a pathetic loser bearing the Mark of Cain, wallowing in eternal self pity, choosing to live as a homeless man to find his Queen, his antidote to a desiccating loneliness And then there s the Queen of the Whores with her magical powers and her crack pipe just an emblem, a protector, a redeemer, a guardian angel, a modern day Jesus and law abiding respected founder of Feminine Circus Jonas Brady, with his multi million dollar franchise of selling men the right to rape, torture, and mutilate disabled girls, her nemesis They are all actors in an absurd pantomime They are all real Part biblical allegory and part skewed postmodern crime novel , the blurb announces with relish But that doesn t even skim the surface of this tome.I call this Vollmann s gift to the perpetual outcasts of society, the ones we have pushed so far beyond the edge bit by bit in our own mad dash for the center that they exist in a kind of parallel netherworld where all humanly concerns are put to rest, where violence and deprivation are the order of the day I call this his sincerest attempt at chronicling their stories the way they may have approved of, however alien to our feral cravings for taint free reputations, routine and fake dignity, however repulsive to our faux fragile sensibilities I call this a searing critique of the hypocrisy of the ones holding the reins of the civilized world, who would sputter with mock indignation when asked to legalize prostitution However small or insignificant, I call this book an act of redemption.

  3. says:

    I had done some selective rereading OK, pretty much the whole thing over the past few days, and I think I m ready to offer a substantive review, in comparison to the exuberant gushing I wrote last year see below Truth be told, I m rather embarrassed about it, but I ll leave it up anyway.So I will ask the big question Why would anyone really read a 774 page book about whores doing fucked up things Even if it is written by a Famous Cult Author or has a Good Prose Style The subject matter seems strange, perhaps repulsive Despite the large pairs of decorated breasts on the front dustjacket, the contents of the book could hardly be described as pornographic To the vast majority of sensibilities, they are precisely the opposite Drugs, sex, disease, perversion, warts yup and all Vollmann has a remarkable talent for describing disgusting or shocking things almost casually, with candor.So what It s about whores Big deal If I want to read something disgusting for cheap kicks, titillation, and for the pleasurable thrill of being shocked, I d go read Bret Easton Ellis and skip the parts about designer brands Vollmann s doing just that, right Wrong.alt Graffiti, Tenderloin District, San Francisco If I would distill this hulk of a book into three sentences, they would be Whores exist They are people They have stories worth telling Vollmann is willing to go the extremest of lengths to prove this point Whore fetishism aside, one is forced to consider the frightening possibility that Vollmann is genuinely interested in, and empathetic to, all corners of society He will spend time with them, listening to their life stories, risk arrest in police raids, smoke their crack really and lovingly immortalize them in his fiction with biblical stories of redemption, Marks of Cain, and all The devotion of a prophet or a madman, a relentless died in the woll Idealist Or, at least, a Writer It is true, the first plot has the tender trappings of a hard boiled detective story If some editor had seized and lobotomized the book, it might have become only this, then it might have sold well But this is a very ambitious novel, which aims for something much higher Even if, as some others say, WTV has failed due to his turgid repetition, he has still achieved something by the very act of writing such a behemoth.It is difficult to divorce the author from his work, especially in this case But I think that such a work can stand on its own Read in order to live , says Flaubert Here, Vollmann s life, and those of the lonesome whores of the Tenderloin, are shown very intimately to us This is a true glimpse of this segment of life Treasure it ORIGINAL EMBARRASSING REVIEW Vollmann, you are a magnificent bastard and I love you This book consumed almost all of my day today, and like so many of your others, will haunt me This book is relentless It is a force You are pummeled with the lives of prostitutes and degradation and survival and you almost become numb to it and you keep going, by sheer will The writing is gorgeous and hauntingly beautiful One of Vollmann s characteristics is his honesty his obsessive desire to be artistically honest by refusing to submit his work to editors and conducting incredibly dangerous research tours in order to provide the most authentic descriptions One can only imagine what he did in order to research this novel.Recommended to anyone who wants to search their soul and see the agonies and trials of humanity s dregs.

  4. says:

    The book is riveting At times I wished I could leave its world I was unable, a captive in the dense bleak circularity of emptiness seeking a fullness always out of reach Yet, when I neared the end I grew sad of ever leaving these haunted beings trying to survive within the web of fear The narrator is a private detective hired to find the Queen of Whores He enters the Tenderloin riddled with prostitution and drug addicts At first they seem to fit easily within these labels Our detective is emptied from within and hangs onto the memory of his suicided lover, his brother s wife What he finds in the Tenderloin are children who had been horribly abused, abandoned, or born with crack cocaine sizzling through their minute veins The selves they had were too painful and horror struck to ever live with Desperate and empty these children were forced to run away, traumatized and blind eyed Quickly they were picked up by predatory pimps and fed drugs Given or adopting a name they walked the streets They had to turn a trick, make the money, cop the next fix that would wipe out the horrors and fears they or no child could survive Once addicted the drug itself required daily renewal, or a number of times a day so tricks must be turned or face the nightmare of withdrawal The fear is amped up by the ongoing danger of being beaten, robbed or killed This particular group attached themselves to the Queen who provided protection, some sense of security, and a mystical reverence to believe in Each prostitute could be given any name since there was no self to attach it too Their only desire could be for the next fix to fend off the always threatening overwhelming anxiety and hell fired drug withdrawal Their vision could extend no further and their belief in their Queen was so vast that her suggestions became their physical placebo reality Encased in an inescapable circle survival was their remaining instinct Their only adequate attachment was to the Queen and that was acolyte to godhead, child to parent Within this group of emptied souls, this Royal Family, distrust of anyone prevented any meaningful attachment They related to each other from the backstage safety of veiled distance, the remoteness of anonymity Served up into hell, they had no say over it.The narrative shifts to different settings where others are whoring but it is no longer called such since they wear the costumery of, waitresses, sales people, bail bondsmen, attorneys, judges, entrepreneurs No social caste escapes The spidered web of fear entangles all The costumes and customs, hierarchies are different providing silvered and golden solvents to hide the addictions to, work, sex, status, pride, ownership, accumulation, power, food, intellect, etc., which money provides as shields The process seems the same but for the grace of god that could be me It not only could but is in different forms to avoid our insecurities, fears, aggressions, to maintain the image we have conjured of ourselves.We watch our detective as his search for the Queen becomes an obsession to heal his own bitter lonely emptiness He is referred to as Hank, Henry, Tyler He too has many names since he has none However he is searching, believing a soul is within his reach, although he can only love be attached to what he cannot have Where he can fit in is with the Queen s girls, women walking the street, the skank hotel rooms, alcohol, crack In time he too prays at the feet of the Queen, hoping to merge with her through the ingestion of her bodily fluids, her placebo wizardry They become a couple His childhood dreams are answered.As with all gods made false by our needy desires The Queen over time fades and the Royal Family splinters This is one of the best rendering of time passing a reader can hope to experience Time passing is one of this book s exquisite themes Hank is left without His Queen is gone, as is the old neighborhood of the Tenderloin He is left to search for her but in time he searches in order to search, another addiction.This is my first Vollmann I read in some non GR reviews he cannot write well Whatever that might mean I thought this was the best example I have read of style dictated by content This was the only way this story could have been written The sentences are straightforward, easy to access even if their contents are not easily stomached There is never a judgement, a prejudice It is simply told I was there stripped of all my comfortable preconceptions I lived in those bars, hotel rooms, alleyways, on those streets Yes, he is repetitive If he wasn t I would have been disappointed That is the existence of street life within the vicious circle of these women, within the life of junkies Simply telling that would have flattened out the narrative and erased the vitality that makes this book pop He showed it, he rendered it, I lived it I now understand which is something far different, and I believe deeper, than acceptance or approval Understanding others is where Vollmann has led me and for that I am grateful.

  5. says:

    WTV, in an interview If freedom means anything, it s about being repulsive as well as being able to do flower paintings I believe that we have to focus on the Other She was a good person exactly as often as she could afford to be What she thought of as standing up for herself might sometimes appear to others as bullying for her it represented the exercise of a sacred moral principle As for friendliness, she showed her goodwill whenever she could By keeping track of all the favors she did, she not only honed their edges, so to speak, into glittering utility for what favor, once forgotten, gets returned but also verified her own goodness And when necessity struck, as it so often did, then she laid friendship aside, and proceeded by the most direct route to manage whatever needed to be managed If someone took offense, that was unfortunate, but to Domino s way of thinking, almost everyone was either a declared or an undeclared enemy anyhow Domino thus was one of the most reasonable women in the world Her moral calculus was honest, practical and consistent We are hardwired to be uncomfortable with complexity, contradiction, flux, paradox Foucault et al have made very clear the power dynamics behind categorization, behind the act of sanding down all the rough and confusing edges of life until everyone and everything can be neatly labeled Refusal to recognize the extraordinary complexity of each and every person on this planet is the source of much that is wrong with our society Because, of course, if one writes a prostitute who acts on occasion in a loving manner, one must be guilty of perpetuating the whore with a heart of gold trope, right And a white, middle class American man can have nothing of value to say about the experience of impoverished, abused african american women, right And a novel featuring one character pissing into the mouth of another, cannot also be beautiful, moral, spiritual, right Because writing of the stench, the rotting skin, the putrid pussies of aging whores cannot be an act of love, right And an author who uses his experiences in, and inserts a character with his name into, his novels, must be writing autobiographically, right And an author who has admitted sleeping with the very prostitutes he purports to respect, to care about, must be a hypocrite, or, worse, an abuser in his own right, right And a novel of Realism, of Reportage, can t also be one operating at the level of Myth, right Lets imagine the following 1 X is a minority, a Subaltern, abused and voiceless Powerless 2 B is a member of the powerful elites 3.By definition as a Subaltern, X has no way for its experiences to be reported or expressed outside of its community in its own voice 4 B takes advantage of X, abuses it in the way the elites always abuse it, and, in doing so, produces a work of art that communicates X s experiences in an accurate, honest, complex way to the elites Is this a bad thing or a good thing Does it make a difference if B is honest about his actions, and explicitly incorporates them recognizing their problematic nature into the text and the discourse around the text This may look a bit like a does the end justify the means question, but I think it subtle than that This is the heart of it, the scared woman who does not want to go alone to the man any longer, because when she does, when she takes off her baggy dress, displaying to him rancid breasts each almost as big as his own head, or no breasts, or mammectomized scar tissues taped over with old tennis balls to give her the right curves when, vending her flesh, she stands or squats waiting, congealing the air firstly with her greasy cheesey stench of unwashed feet confined in week old socks, secondly with her perfume of leotards and panties also a week old, crusted with semen and urine, brown greased with the filth of alleys thirdly with the odor of her dress also worn for a week, emblazoned with beer spills and cigarette ash and salted with the smelly sweat of sex, dread, fever, addiction when she goes to the man, and is accepted by him, when all these stinking skins of hers have come off either quickly, to get it over with, or slowly like a big truck pulling into a weigh station because she is tired , when she nakedly presents her soul s ageing soul, exhaling from every pore physical and ectoplasmic her fourth and supreme smell which makes eyes water than any queen of red onions rotten waxy smell from between her breasts, I said, bloody pissy shitty smell from between her legs, sweat smell and underarm smell, all blended into her halo, generalized sweetish smell of unwashed flesh when she hunkers painfully down with her customer on bed or a floor or in an alley, then she expects her own death Her smell is enough to keep him from knowing the heart of her, and the heart of her is not the heart of it The heart of it is that she is scared

  6. says:

    And yet Tyler said to himself Someday I want to show backbone I want to do something daring, good and important, even if it destroys me And he waited to be called to that worthwhile thing The Royal Family is an achingly sad tale of love loss, of Henry Tyler s search for meaning in life Its world, peopled by whores, addicts, pimps, panhandlers, tramps, hobos, the homeless, is Vollmann s tribute to the voiceless, the dregs of society, for Tyler s story is inextricably mixed with theirs.In a broader frame, it s also a tale of two cities San Francisco Sacramento an elegiac homage, TRF does for these what Joyce s Ulysses has done for Dublin but first things first The poor you will always have with you so says the Bible.The duality of this world is reflected in the book s themes characterizations the Queen of the Whores is a non descript person of the kind you wouldn t ever notice yet she has the power of magic healing.Tyler is the eternal loser yet trying to help others in his own small way so on.On one level, this book is a scathing satire of a system that is so blatantly rigged against the downtrodden, pushing them further further towards the peripheral oblivion The long, digressive chapter An Essay on Bail, makes Vollmann s ethical humanitarian concerns loud clear but Vollmann s ambition for this book is an allegory of the human condition.By embedding Biblical allusions symbolism in the text, The Royal Family has come to mean something huge it s no longer about social justice alone crime, after all, is punishable in a secular world but how do you tackle the inherent evil Expelled from Eden, mankind is in a fallen state the injustice goes way back there the chosen ones will always win the people with the mark of Cain will always lose Vollmann made the spiritual nature of this book very clear in these lines Sunflower s pain and crucifixion is emblematic of the theme of the book in fact, central The Dostoyevskian notion that suffering and degradation is paradoxically ennobling, perhaps even sacred, first gets illustrated to the unbelieving Henry right here The whole book is about how he learns to follow Sunflower s path Without the aid of religious interpretation, Tyler s wilful self degradation would seem capricious facile to a casual reader Buddhist self renunciation has been invoked in Tyler s meandering journeys but Buddhism doesn t revel in filth decay it s extremely disciplined focusses on moderation in every aspect of life Tyler s free fall has to do with the legend of Cain But grant him this In the end he Cain did at least wear his Mark with defiant pride, and set out most adventurously to take up housekeeping with Lilith s daughters and other whores in the Land of Nod, which I ve always assumed was the place that heroin addicts go to And Cain, I read, begat Pontius Pilate, who begat firstly innocent bystanders, and secondly good Germans, and thirdly Mr Henry Tyler, that newly ageing lump of flesh with the same stale problem of an irremediable spiritual impotence nay, rottenness of which he had not been the cause and for which there could be no solution Like Baudelaire, Vollmann has also taken Cain as a symbol of the forever oppressed.One also sees Sufi mysticism in Tyler s desire to share the tragic destiny of his royal family in accepting the Queen s life of filth shame, the lover has assumed the identity of the beloved In this identification then, lies his solace view spoiler for his Queen remains forever out of his reach hide spoiler

  7. says:

    This book was a huge disappointment to me I read the early whore stories and Rainbow Stories and didn t much like them They seemed purile and immature Well ok Vollman, who s unquestionably a genius of sorts, was only about 30 or so when he wrote these.Turning to this after the first 150 pages, I was prepared to see this as the great american novel of his generation my thought was that Vollman at 32 wanted to be a writer but that Vollman at 42 WAS a writer The opening of this book John, Henry was flawless.But the next 300 pages were, for this reader, at least, tedious, repetitive, and of little interest And worse, much of it was downright silly Henry, a four dimensional figure after the first 150 pages, was reduced to a cardboard cutout by page 400 what a waste and most of the hapless whores and addicts of Vollman s Tenderloin were little better Their characters are virtually interchangeable, their idiom was interchangeable if I didn t remember that one was Mexican and another black, I wouldn t have known who was who And principal characters like the Queen and Justin were utterly unbelievable I m not a big fan of surrealism and fantasy and so maybe part of the problem is me But I m not convinced of that.The fact is, these types of people for all their woesome misery and suffering are, for the most part, precisely because they are reduced to their animal simplicities and needs even ARTIFICIAL animal needs drugs living two dimensional lives There is little cognition, little striving, little refraction, reflection, spirituality no growth and so they are, after a while, sad but quite uninteresting Consequently, it is hard to write about them and sustain it for 800 pages unless the writer shows great discipline and that, certainly, is a quality that many will think Vollman lacks and analytical scope But instead he treats them like slightly comical homeric heroes, and the epicization simply doesn t work it rings utterly false.To me, of course.And yet even in the midst of this literary dross and failure sorry to all the Vollman fans who are my GR friends there are passages here of such surpassing brilliance like Domino tottering down the Tenderloin night into the flashing lights that one can only shake one s head at the opportunity that Vollman missed.I write this knowing full well that I ll earn the contempt and laughter of people who I m the first to admit are far richer and far experienced readers of contemporary fiction than I am.So I offer this review in the spirit of Hank offering up his love to the Queen Well not really.

  8. says:

    This is a piece of grade A shite I am ditching after 300 pages although I have skimmed the rest for good measure Not because I have anything against whores, retarded sex or urinating in someone s mouth, but because I have a whole lot of something against laborious prose and two dimensional characters and frankly, utter lack of grit, rawness, or essence The 300 pages I worked through read like a mobius strip of endless encounters in monotone and black and white but not noir Look, I don t need a dry catalogue of sexual deviancy and or deviants Henry Miller, who I m not necessarily an avid fan of, shows however, in both Tropics how to catch a whore and pare her down to linguistic basics These ladies can show you a hell of a good time when scraping the bottom of the barrel in depravity, drugs, whoremongering, alcohol abuse, paedophilia, sexual degradation and sheer emotional agony the type that tends to take over when you re officially a bottom dweller.http review show http review show http review show http review show But Vollman well, he s neither authentic, nor passionate Would probably be better suited for non fictional work the way drones on in monotone Just not the book for me.

  9. says:

    I wish I knew my Bible better for The Royal Family as I m positive that all of the allegory and parable within would dazzle me even Alas, I don t read non fiction.I m not going to attempt to tear this sucker apart Significant English Thinker SET Jonathan did just that very thing yesterday, and he done did a much finer job than I ever could To be honest, my interaction with philosophy is relegated to work I have a weird job and I prefer to keep the already overlapping spheres of my personal and professional lives far enough apart to be able to differentiate which one I loathe at a given time Thus, I don t know my Foucault from my fondue they re both French, right and my philo spiritu epistemo threshold pretty much begins and ends with a poster I have of a kitten, a tree, and the legend Hang In There Call me shallow I ve stared into the abyss for enough years to realize that I m the only one blinking As my last WTV review directly addressed what I feel to be problematic regarding people s inability to parse fact from fiction writer from human, I m not going to go there I ve already been there, done that I brought it and you ve been served So where does that leave us Rightly where it should focusing on this towering achievement Beyond the several dozen levels this book can operate on choose your own , the fact of the matter is that The Royal Family is strikingly conventional in its linearity, character development, arch, etc This isn t faint praise We ve all seen what Vollmann can do by blowing up the traditional form, so how does he fare reassembling it anew Damn well, Jackson The major characters here aren t just sketches or stage props for WTV to manipulate for Maximum Emotional Heft MEH The two major players Henry Tyler and Domino are his most fully realized So, despite the presence of an insect arachnoid she goddess that expectorates a psychotropic saliva what, you thought there wasn t one , when the blows land and they do, faster and psychically damaging than you can imagine at times they are brutal Two words Dan Smooth.I will say that this is the only WTV book where I see a strong antecedent in Pynchon, something he gets labeled with for page count than anything There are than several nods to Gravity s Rainbow that I caught, beyond the obviously scatological sexual I am not going to mention plot points in either in case anyone hasn t read them which you should remedy right quick if that s the case This isn t a criticism as I am a virtual Sapphire myself to Pynchon s Queen We need writers of Pynchon s caliber and I think our best modern analogue is WTV Check it He bristled into a posture which was for him as natural as that of an antibody encountering in the dim red bloodstreams it frequented some unknown cell which threatened that ruby light of home and seemed to darken it into the inkiness of baleful sorrow Same sentence by 99.99% of other authors He sat down But I will leave it, like I did above, to a eminent thinker than myself to have the last word via the below link If you ve read it, you ll get it If you haven t, please do so then you can Either way, it won t ruin any plot for you Take it away, Amazing Diminutive Irishman ADI

  10. says:

    6 8 17 Representations of drug addicted street prostitutes in popular culture exhibit c, this song and video a woman living on the street and selling her body to smoke crack meth would not be able to maintain such flawless skin as the model in this video Sentimental as fuck, but nonetheless I kind of like it A guilty pleasure, I suppose 8 12 16 Went to a production of Genet s Deathwatch at a small theater in the Tenderloin last night Waiting in the theater cafe before the show, and overhead some of the other patrons having a conversation about what a bad neighborhood the TL is I have to say this annoys me First of all, what is meant by bad It s true there are a lot of panhandlers and street prostitutes in the Tenderloin, but these people are really no dangerous than any merchant soliciting your money You can always just say no or not say anything , refuse, and keep walking.I don t think fear of street crime is always irrational I ve been mugged at gunpoint before, though not in the Tenderloin, and can confirm it s not a pleasant experience , but still I can t shake the suspicion that talk of bad neighborhoods often has to do with an aesthetic objection to the existence of certain kinds of people Alas, I think this is especially true in SF, where many citizens feel they have a right to wipe the unpicturesque off the street It s not an edifying spectacle to see bourgeois people pay money to have their sensibilities shocked at an avant garde cultural event, and then afterwards hurry into their Uber so as not to spend another minute in a bad neighborhood Biking through the tenderloin last night I heard one woman yelling about another woman to the passing cars Don t talk to her, she s dirty, she s got syphilis, she s a syphilitic whore 1 31 16 better not to shy away from gaping despair HI TWITTER, WE D LOVE TO WELCOME YOU TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD, BUT WE HAVE TOO MANY CHARACTERS sign seen outside a motel in the Tenderloin right before Twitter moved in on Market streetThe Royal Family felt familiar to me in an empirical way I know these streets, at least to some degree The main character actually lives four blocks from me In part it s the story of gentrification, almost a protest novel, although Vollmann does not sentimentalize the opposition, or urban underbelly Nor does the question of charity arise, because if anything he s desperately hoping the tramps and whores may be able to help him, that he can learn from them But what if some sacred vapor infused her ecstasies and depths What if her endless struggle for junk and junk were a meditation of perpetual equilibrium as valid as Buddha s stillness on a lotus leaf the Royal Family, pp 273Compare Simone Weil There is a resemblance between the lower and the higher Hence slavery is an image of obedience to God, humility an image of humiliation, physical necessity an image of the irresistible pressure of grace, the saints abandonment from day to day an image of the frittering away of time among criminals, prostitutes, etc from Decreation Despite her quasi conversion to Catholicism, Weil retained some fairly heretical ideas until the end For instance, that creation is God s distance from us, and that it is necessary to decreate ourselves in order to achieve union with God I believe this kind of thinking falls well outside canonical Christian theology, and is properly at home in Gnosticism Vollmann uses epigraphs generously throughout the Royal Family Weil never makes an appearance, but he does quote the gnostic gospel quite a bit I think the novel can be read as an epic of decreation San Francisco is presented in stark, almost feudal terms On the one hand, yuppies on the other, whores Between these two orders there are no gradations The only exception is Henry Tyler in his somewhat heroic quest of downward mobility This book is angry and horribly sad at times It s pretty much everything I could have hoped for.