|I am on some occasions a big admirer of William T. Vollmann, but some times, like this time, he just clobbers me into submission with walls of prose that seem specifically designed to be unreadable. This book is about 100,000 pages long, printed in what might as well be Braille-dots that not even a myopic like me can read without seeing stars, on onion-skin paper so thin it must have been cut with an atom slicer & that you could almost see through if you held it up to the light. Maybe you can see through it if you held it up to the light—I don't know. Because I can't lift this book above my shoulders. It weighs about 550 pounds. You'd have to be an Olympic clean-and-jerk champion to do it. I read the first three pages. They were great. Some stuff about how crooked backroom political shenanigans, not votes, secured the presidency for Rutherford B. Hayes. But this was followed by a chapter so long, so densely thicketed with verbiage, so lacking in paragraph breaks that it was as insurmountable as an Assyrian city wall. Forget it. I can't do it. This book is a millstone; it'll break my neck if I tried to carry it up the stairs. Sitting with it on my lap on the couch, I feel like an ant crushed under an anvil. I feel my legs going numb. I feel like I'm trapped in a building collapse. I could die for want of food and water, unable to lift myself out from under the weight of this massive Stonehenge pillar of a tome. So I'm going to hire a crane operator & a prison chain-gang to lift it off the coffee table & haul it by flatbed truck back to the library where it could take up a whole wall on its own, provided it were sufficiently buttressed. I'll make it available to Hulk Hogan or some steroid-pumped NFL linebacker to borrow. With The Dying Grass, William T. Vollmann has defeated me. He's kicked sand in my face & stood mockingly over me, just daring me to turn another page. I admit it, I'm bawling like a child, like a 90-pound weakling, like a sissy. I can't do it, I just can't do it. He's intimidated me into submission. He's gotten me to cry "uncle." Life's too short for a book so long, a book so heavy, a book trying so hard not to be read.|
I surrender unconditionally.
I'm going to read something childishly simple instead.
Julio Cortazar's "Hopscotch."