Imperial

Imperial From the author of Europe Central a journalistic tour de force along the Mexican American border For generations of migrant workers Imperial Country has held the promise of paradise and the reality

  • Title: Imperial
  • Author: William T. Vollmann
  • ISBN: 9780143118404
  • Page: 287
  • Format: Paperback
  • From the author of Europe Central, a journalistic tour de force along the Mexican American border For generations of migrant workers, Imperial Country has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell It sprawls across a stirring accidental sea, across the deserts, date groves and labor camps of Southeastern California, right across the border into Mexico In thisFrom the author of Europe Central, a journalistic tour de force along the Mexican American border For generations of migrant workers, Imperial Country has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell It sprawls across a stirring accidental sea, across the deserts, date groves and labor camps of Southeastern California, right across the border into Mexico In this eye opening book, William T Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, exploring polluted rivers and guarded factories and talking with everyone from Mexican migrant workers to border patrolmen Teeming with patterns, facts, stories, people and hope, this is an epic study of an emblematic region.

    One thought on “Imperial”

    1. Imperial is… entity spreading from Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean eastward to the Colorado River where the Hoover Dam lords over arid America and extending southward down past the border wall into Southside and oblivion beyond the trickling beginnings of the fetid Rio Nuevo and pale mountains purpling in the desert dusk; it is the “center of all secrets, and therefore center of the world”; Imperial is lettucescapes and orangescapes and lemonscapes and grapefruitscapes and onionscapes an [...]

    2. An important book, today more than ever. Its wide range and its willingness to explore its own faults and limitations make it even more valuable in our dogmatically inclined age. A tale of: naivety; greed; hope; corruption; desire; freedom and enslavement; water and salt; capitalism red in tooth and claw; shortsightedness; and lettuce. José Clemente Orozco - Cortes y la Malinche (1926) "One of the saddest paintings I know"WTV UPWA Striker with California Bracero Program workers in the backgroun [...]

    3. MapsBrief Glossary--ImperialConcerning the MapsBibliographyCreditsAcknowledgments(To reduce the price and bulk of this paperback edition, the author agreed to omit most of the endmatter that appeared in the hardcover edition. Readers curious about those sections---"A Chronology of Imperial," "Sources," and "Persons Interviewed"---should visit penguin/imperial)

    4. What is this entity called Imperial? I don’t know. I have never visited, except for a few afternoons spent in the nearby gardens of the Stone brewery. But I have spent some time with an entity called Imperial. What is Imperial? It is immense. Let us count up its size. One thousand three hundred and six pages is she. Of that number, eleven hundred and twenty five pages constitute the main narrative portion of our book. 208 chapters, all told. You will be pleased to know that chapter 208 is enti [...]

    5. Imperial is— My backyard. Where I grew up. Where I drank beer and smoked pot in the deserts of my youth. Where my father, best friend, and I hitchhiked back after flipping our truck 800-miles from home on a Mexican expedition. Where we paid coyotes money to let us lie in the back of their truck beds, atop stacks of sundry items American’s would call ‘junk,’ and vomited backwards onto the highway for hundreds of miles as they safely took us from town to town. Where I knew true kindness. I [...]

    6. Imperial happens to be a county wherein two crises of the 21st century are playing out: illegal border crossings and dire water shortages. Vollmann's copious, sprawling, ingeniously crafted text explores these crises in the way fireworks explore the night sky.Officially, Imperial is about "immigration, agribusiness, and corporate exploitation", and I admit, living in California makes me a prime target for these hot-button issues.ough, having read Europe Central, it wasn't going to take much to l [...]

    7. The book is 1,306 long pages, divided into 13 Parts, with a 24-page bibliography, a 17-page chronology, a list of people Vollmann interviewed, and 112 pages of notes. It is longer than 'Infinite Jest' but shorter than 'The Anatomy of Melancholy.'I have two sorts of comments. The first are about Part One, 'Introductions,' which is 182 pages long and divided into 12 chapters. I asked myself, as I read this, what reasons I might have to continue on and read the other 12 parts of the book -- especia [...]

    8. He wrote an article in Harper's that made me want more. I had a long think with myself between paper and electronic. Though I prefer anything with a lot of charts and illustrations on paper, I went for the electronic edition to avoid carrying the brick. This made the swim to the other side unencumbered such that I could sprawl as freely as the book. However, had this been an older book with a certain kind of smell, a name scrawled in the front, some underlinings and marginalia, I would have carr [...]

    9. “…just as the Salton Sea lies blue beneath a blue sky, grey under clouds, so any delineation of Imperial depends on the delineator, which means that whatever Imperial is must get expressed, no matter how scrupulously and intelligently, as a variety of shifting if hopefully overlapping entities even if we all confine ourselves to a single aspect of the place at a mutually agreed instant. My best hope (which doesn’t seem awfully good) is that when we overlay those delineations, each plotted [...]

    10. I did a bit of checking around, and the first several professional reviews I read for "Imperial" were pretty negative--and for what I thought were pretty lame reasons. For sure William T. Vollmann's tome is fragmented and lays down a circuitous narrative from start to finish, but his meandering, idiosyncratic, almost pointless story that slowly unravels like a song about doomed love is exactly what makes "Imperial" so compelling and readable. (And I just read somewhere that the best writing shou [...]

    11. I tried. Oh, how I tried. I grew up in the Imperial Valley. I write about the Imperial Valley. I know people interviewed in this book. I couldn't even get halfway through it.I'll read the rest of the book after Vollmann decides to finish doing his job as a writer and rewrites and edits this unnecessarily long ramble. Just because a book is long, doesn't make it good or insightful. In fact, this was like reading a stack of notebooks that you'd find in an attic. Repetitive, unorganized, and so foc [...]

    12. Every now and then I might get macho about reading a really BIG book. But that's not why I started this one, I swear it. I just wanted to read any book at all by Vollmann, because I kept coming across his prose in magazines or excerpts or whatever, and it's always golden to me. I could have chosen a thinner book -- for instance, every other book by him is thinner -- but I also have a passing interest in the fucked-up ecosystem/economy/history of the Salton Sea region, which lies within this book [...]

    13. Bigger, better, faster, more streamlined, more productive: this is the religion of the movers and makers, the technophiles and tycoons indebted to raising us out of the muck of our lame blood and tissues into profitable godliness. Of course there are the dissenters, the retrograde prophets: your Thoreaus and your Mumfords, your Ned Ludds, who want to roll back the clock. For my part I'm more sympathetic to this type, regardless of the unattainability of their respective dreams. Our friend Willia [...]

    14. Imperial will probably be more "respected" than read. I would be a liar if I didn't admit that the irrigation and farming statistics, despite having a logical purpose in the narrative, did grow a bit boring. At the same time, the stuff about chinese tunnels, maquiladoras, drug ballads, and the new river more than made up for it. (It was also neat that the LA sections mentioned an exact block that I have lived on and the street that I currently live on.) Rising Up and Rising Down was more of a fu [...]

    15. If one best learns a language by total immersion, then one can likewise learn of place as William Vollman sets out to prove in his massive study “Imperial” which bombards the reader with every sort of datum on the California-Mexican area. Major themes include distribution of water, the transformation of small farms to vast agricultural domains, the plight of the Mexican illegal immigrant, the history of the Chinese in Mexico, accounts of early settlers, and more, much more. “Imperial” do [...]

    16. Exhaustive, exhausting, all you need to know about that place where everything North American converges. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in nonfiction (to be announced March 11)

    17. I have never been cheated out of a dollar in my life. The amount of research and time that went into this book is amazing, and deserves 5 stars for that alone. Beyond that, I think Vollmann does a great job interspersing interviews and current events with the history of the region. It somehow keeps you entertained and engaged over 1100 pages, where I think writing this in chronological order wouldn't have worked. Definitely recommended if you have the time!WATER IS HERE.

    18. Good for research but a very terribly edited book. I read it as it is about my birth place and the unusual history behind that part of the international border. I could have done with less tangents about his romantic obsessions with the locals.

    19. Who is our author, William T. Vollman? Imagine that Norman Maclean took peyote, climbed to the top of the Y in the Hollywood sign, and spent three days up there hallucinating that he was Hunter S. Thompson. Then on the third night he disappeared and no one heard a thing from him until five months later he stepped off a cargo ship in San Pedro with a tattoo and a slight limp that he didn't have before. That, perhaps, is William T. Vollman. Or else that's only the memory of a William T. Vollman wh [...]

    20. Imperial is a paean to the American dream, to the process by which the Imperial valley budded, bloomed and declined thanks in no small part to water. MOISTURE MEANS MILLIONS. Imperial is a 3.8lb hardback in a handsome dust jacket which I finally finished on flight AA45 from CDG to JFK, cruising at an altitude of 30,000ft. Imperial is an ever-increasing series of unexplained segues into the author's many encounters with Mexicali's street prostitutes. Imperial occasionally reaches the giddy height [...]

    21. Four weeks ago I started reading the first over-1,000 page book since I tackled Shelby Foote’s Civil War series in 2010. For the record, I found this novel at Dublin’s Half-Priced Books for $5.99, and I got well more than my money’s worth.California has 58 counties, of which I’ve visited all but three: Trinity, nestled away on Highway 299 in the northwest corner of the state, Modoc County in the far northeast corner, and at the southeast corner: Imperial (I do believe my dad had been to [...]

    22. Imperial County is by most accounts a failure. The story this book tells is that it wasn't always that wayAround the 1900s - 1920s, Imperial was a destination if you had agricultural dreams. With a very hot climate year-round, many things could grow all year. Imperial County once used to be the #1 supplier of melons! In any case, this book is also mainly a story about water. Water rights play a huge role in the (de)evolution of Imperial's fate. Being an agricultural hub, Imperial is also the sto [...]

    23. A non-linear history of Imperial County, California. Vollmann catches the desertness of the place, illegal aliens, narcocorridos, Chinese tunnels, the casual vice of Mexicali, maquiladoras, the creaction of the Salton Sea, and now the decline of Imperial. Vollmann is careful, balanced and wistful. He asks, but does not answer, the question of taming the desert with irrigation water and the subsequent bloom of agriculture. Now Imperial is in slow decline because it is more profitable to sell the [...]

    24. What a strange trip; visceral, transcendent, dull, irrelevant - all of that. From some very important observations about border culture and the ghosts of boosterism in California to a bunch of ill-advised metaphors about prostitutes and a catalog of vaginal imagery. So is Imperial a good book or a bad one, I guess it depends where you dive in. One this is for sure, it is vast and in the end its strengths are at least as manifold as its weaknesses. If it could be paired down to 300 pages of strik [...]

    25. While some of them said it more politely than others, reviewers generally agreed that most readers will find the size of Imperial overwhelming (not to mention the $55 price tag). But none could dismiss Vollmann's work, and most praised it strongly. They admired not only Vollmann's bombastic literary and personal style but his choice of subject matter. For all his digressions, Vollmann centers his story on a region defined by humans' ongoing attempts to control water, and several reviewers were i [...]

    26. I gave up a little over 10% of the way through the book and am still giving it three stars. I guess that says something. Vollmann an incredible writer who can combine the personal and the journalistic (his abilities to interview coyotes and undocumented immigrants is impressive) with ease. He's figured out this is an incredible place to chronicle and (not that I know) seems to be really feeling something true about it -- he at least seems to Get it. It's a Book, with great literary ambition (see [...]

    27. "Imperial is about a part of Southeastern California where I have relatives who are farmers. The story of the Imperial Valley distills the seamiest sides of California history: turning the desert to farmland with corrupt water deals; environmental degradation; housing booms and housing busts; graveyards of nameless illegal immigrants pursuing busted dreams in El Norte. The story is peculiarly Californian while also capturing the flavor of every border in the world, which all share certain qualit [...]

    28. Where do I begin? This book is the work of a crazy genius. This book is a mess. It's huge, sprawling, insightful, and (in my opinion) unfocused. In short this is classic Vollman. If you really really love Vollman, I would recommend this book. For people who have never read him, it will just be too much. Fabulous source notes. The publisher did a great packaging job. It's a real acheivemment to publish over 1,000 pages of changing typefaces and illustrations throughout the body of the text. Vikin [...]

    29. This is a 1200 page book; I've enjoyed it so far and appreciate the type of research done over the ten year span it took Vollmann to compile, format, and organize. I definitely would like to see the companion book of photographs that the author released at the same time. There's definitely some Kerouac influence in Vollmann's narrative and the book has its own quirky style: I can understand people being turned off but I wasn't. I became immersed in Imperial and found this study of the California [...]

    30. I do not recommend this book for most people. It's frustratingly long and detailed to the point of being quite maddening at times. Yet some of the time I loved this book. Without the footnotes it's 1150 pages. Reduce repetition and cut out 300 pages and it'd be a lot stronger. But Vollmann has guts. He doesn't compromise. And I respect that. Took me 7 months to read, in which time I put Imperial down at times and read about 20 other books. You gotta take breaks, but it's do-able. I've never been [...]

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