Guest Observation: William T. Vollmann

The New York Times has a story today on William T. Vollmann’s new book, “Imperial.” It’s not a review, really; more of a travelogue, a return to the places Vollmann has visited since the late ’90s while reporting and writing the book and taking pictures for a companion photo volume. The story spends some time talking about Vollmann’s appetite for adventure and for what those leading rather safe, “predictable” lives–me, for instance–might call the seamy corners of life. The story says, “He explained his preoccupation with the marginal and downtrodden matter of factly:

“When I was a young boy, my little sister drowned, and it was essentially my fault. I was 9, and she was 6, and I was supposed to be watching. I’ve always felt guilty. It’s like I have to have sympathy for the little girl who drowned and for the little boy who failed to save her — for all the people who have screwed up.”