A literary delight—a reading feast; a Gassian celebration—the best of the best: more than fifty selections chosen by Gass himself from his essays, criticism, commentary, short stories, and novels.
It begins with his essays, in which Gass looks back at varying points in his writing life at those writers (from Plato, Hobbes, and James, to Joyce, Beckett, Stein, and Gaddis) whose work he found inspiring…and at those whose work he explores and embraces (Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy; Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End; Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain; Stendhal’s The Red and the Black). He writes (from A Temple of Texts) on the nature and value of writing (“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words”).
Here is a rich experience of Gass’s short fiction: from Eyes, his masterfully crafted novella, “In Camera,” about collecting, hording; about suspicions run amok…from Cartesian Sonata…and In the Heart of the Heart of the Country (1968), a mythical reimagining of America’s heartland.
And from his nimble, daredevil novels: Middle C (2013), the chronicle of an Austrian-born man who, as a child with his mother, relocates to America’s Midwest (Woodbine, Ohio), grows up a low-skilled amateur piano player to become a music professor at a small Bible college; his only hobby a fantasy life as the curator of his Inhumanity Museum…and from The Tunnel (“The most beautiful, most complex, most disturbing novel to be published in my lifetime”—Michael Silverblatt, Los Angeles Times).
A must for anyone who loves to read and who wants to write, and for those who revere this true American master. “Of all living literary figures, William Gass may count as the most daringly scathing and most assertively fecund: in language, in ideas, in intricacy of form; above all in relentless fury.” —Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review (cover)
A rich selection from Gass’s ten books of essays and criticism, his three collections of short stories, and his four novels.
An essential introduction to those who have heard of William H. Gass but who have not yet entered his daring and inspired temple of texts.
An exhilarating masterclass in seeing the world in words.
Gass has been the recipient of almost every literary award and grant: the inaugural PEN/Nabokov Award (2000), the American Book Award for his novel The Tunnel (1996), the National Book Critics Circle Award for his essay collections (Habitations of the Word, 1985; Finding a Form, 1996; and Tests of Time, 2002), the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Literature (1975), and the Medal of Merit for Fiction (1979), grants from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations, the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay for Tests of Time (2003), the 2007 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism for A Temple of Texts, and the 2014 University City Tradition of Literary Excellence Award.
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