• print • Feb/Mar 2007

    Boxcars, Shostakovich, and the Poor

    William T. Vollmann has traveled to unforgiving and turbulent places in search of insights into the human condition, conducted exhaustive research, and written epic works that commingle genres, deepen our perception of history, intensify our sense of empathy, and complicate our moral equations. Feverishly prodigious and protean, Vollmann is fascinated by symbiosis and the pairings of opposites, and he himself projects a complexly bifurcated sensibility. He is saintly in his devotion to people who are marginalized and maligned and is martyrlike in his zeal to write to the point of physical

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  • print • Feb/Mar 2007

    Interviewing the Interviewers

    TERRY GROSS

    BOOKFORUM: How do you prepare for your interviews with writers?

    TERRY GROSS: I completely mark up the books I read. I circle everything I think is important or intriguing. I earmark just about every other page. My notes become a memory bank. I return to them to reflect on the book, and hopefully a picture emerges, like developing film, to guide me in the interview.

    BF: What do you focus on when you speak with fiction writers? How do you avoid emphasizing the plot and giving too much away?

    TG: I try not to get too involved in the intricacies of a novel because it’s a world the

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