In Defense of Details

Scott offers a defense of Vollmann: “Yes, Vollmann gives us a lot of details–Pushkin, three corpses, the offhanded remark on the German language. Perhaps we could have stripped the Pushkin reference, gotten rid of two corpses, exed out the whole bit about the Nackenschuss. We could do all that, but then what would be left of Vollmann’s original intent, of his desire to communicate the clash of cultures during the war in Central Europe? Why, without Vollmann’s details, this war could be taking place anywhere. Besides, isn’t it interesting that whereas the Soviets have slogans, the Germans have words for executing someone through the base of their skull? And how keen of Vollmann to note that these Soviet peasants, whom all the might of the Soviet state was unable to bring together, were so swiftly and brutally stripped of their individuality by the Nazis?”

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