Sunday, August 21, 2011

William T. Vollmann's YOU BRIGHT AND RISEN ANGELS, UK 1st (with drawing)



After a bit of delay, I thought I'd come back with one of my favorite novels, William T. Vollmann's You Bright and Risen Angels. It's Vollmann's first novel and one that very much sets the tone for the rest of his oeuvre, both his fiction and non-fiction. Angels is one of the most insane books I've ever read and one of the most difficult to describe. If you could trade the cheekiness of Thomas Pynchon with something more vicious and incendiary you'd have something close to what Vollmann's up to.

First published in 1987 by Andre Deutsch, You Bright and Risen Angels is sort of an alternate-history novel. Set in what feels like a poisoned version of Horatio Alger's USA, an enigmatic figure named Big George runs the country, fueled by electricity and over-saturated branding. A revolutionary faction forms against Big George, led by a man named Bug and his army of insects and terrorists.

And Vollmann makes it work. It's an amazingly captivating novel and if you're at all intrigued by the above I suggest you seek it out. I apologize in advance for being so tongue-tied on this one--if you read it you'll understand where I'm coming from.

A major theme of the novel is the tension between insects and "electricity"... which makes this signed UK 1st even more exciting. Take a look:


After lusting after a similarly drawn-in copy at the now-defunct Skyline Books in Manhattan, I found this one on eBay and snagged it on a very modest "Best Offer".

Thought I'd also share a peek at the coda of the novel, written in some sort of glyphic alphabet:



(On a side note, I've finished 2 of my 6 picks from the Booker longlist, Jamrach's Menagerie and The Stranger's Child. I'm waiting on two more from the UK and will be back with an update when they arrive.)

Currently reading:
There But For The by Ali Smith

Currently listening to:
Light Asylum, "In Tension"

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