Celebrated author William Vollmann has found an unexpected home for his materials at OSU.
Writer William T. Vollmann is not from Ohio, nor did he attend school here. Yet, beginning in 1992, the California-based author of the National Book Award-winning “Europe Central” has been depositing his papers—including manuscript drafts, galley proofs and journals—at Ohio State University's Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.
So what's his connection to the Buckeye State? Credit Geoffrey Smith, the former head of the library, for identifying Vollmann's importance early in his career.
“He was able to recognize this potential talent and make sure that OSU really became the premier institution for his collection,” says the library's curator of American literature, Jolie Braun.
Vollmann, a novelist, essayist and journalist, is considered intellectually challenging, eccentric, and above all, prolific. He's written about conflicts between settlers and North American natives—a seven-novel series called Seven Dreams—and penned an article for Harper's about the FBI's suspicion that he was the Unabomber, among many, many topics.
His OSU collection offers Vollman scholars a comprehensive location for study; a 2015 exhibit of his work drew experts from around the world, says instructional services coordinator Lisa Iacobellis. Gems in the collection include “the little scrap of paper where he first jotted down his idea for the Seven Dreams series,” Iacobellis says. “We were really excited to find that.”
Thirty years into his career, Vollmann shows no signs of slowing. He'll soon release a pair of nonfiction books regarding climate change: “No Immediate Danger” (April) and “No Good Alternative” (June).
“He's kind of in a league of his own,” Braun says.
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