Editing William T. Vollmann

Photo: William T. Vollmann

By LARB AV

Author Tom Bissell is a longtime admirer and friend to William T. Vollmann. On the eve of Vollmann’s reading at Skylight Books earlier this month, Bissell, who’d just published a profile of Vollmann in The New Republic, dropped by and gave us a quick anecdote about the connection between the two authors.

Bissell, an insanely talented and prolific writer himself, was once working as an editor at Henry Holt when he was tasked with publishing Vollmann’s now-infamous treatise on violence, Rising Up and Rising Down. He tried to convince Vollmann to cut 1,000 pages, he failed, and of course then McSweeney’s took over and published a 7-volume, 3,300-page version. Watch the video to hear the rest of the story, which offers a rare glimpse into how the publishing world copes with Vollmann’s gargantuan output.

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