Collision Of Cultures

TITLE: FATHERS AND CROWS

AUTHOR: WILLIAM T. VOLLMANN

PUBLISHER: VIKING; 990 PAGES; $30

THE BOTTOM LINE: The second bleak volume in a relentlessly pessimistic novel cycle about the coming of white men to North America.

At the age of 32, novelist William Vollmann displays the exasperating immaturities of a precocious teenager. He is a self-mythologizer who refers to himself with heavy irony as "William the Blind." He is utterly and humorlessly self-absorbed and believes his own sensibility to be unique. He rolls out for display every nut and grain that he has squirreled.

Given this, and a good deal more that...

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