Beyond facts or analysis, Vollmann?s work, through storytelling and rhetoric offers us a feel for a topic, an indelible impression of a landscape or the people in it, and his strong moral concerns further buttress our understanding of them. In those respects and several others, Whores for Gloria
, originally published in 1991 as Vollmann?s third novel, is fairly representative of his work. Its length is the only aspect of the book that makes it stand out among his oeuvre, given that it is a remarkably short book. The similarities of Whores for Gloria
to Vollmann?s general aesthetic are perhaps most significant where the book?s attitude to fiction and reality is concerned. In the short first chapter, the author informs us that the contents of what follows are ?fictitious?. However, he goes on to tell us, ?all of the Whore?s-tales? in the book ?are real.? This is beyond discussions on the nature of reality and fiction, or on the amount of truth that an invented tale can carry. Discussions like these are well known by now and can frankly be somewhat tiresome. Like many excellent writers, Vollmann manages, in all his books, to hand us a sliver of truth, an impression of it, seen through the vapor of his admirable passions. There is an insight, if not into reality, then into the workings of certain coherent world views. We see how elements of knowledge, and a perception of the hard cobblestone groundings of reality can congeal to a kind of certainty, perceptual and moral. What we as readers learn is how things could be connected, what connections are possible, and how we might arrive at an understanding of them.