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Finding a Formby William H. Gass
Synopses & Reviews
Scathing, lyrical, and hilarious by turns, this collection of essays by William H. Gass--perhaps our greatest critic and author--sounds a rallying cry against the steady encroachment of the banal ("the Pulitzer Prize in fiction," he claims, "takes dead aim at mediocrity and almost never misses") and the lazy (on minimalist realism: "The advantage to writing this slack is that the writer can't hang himself with any length of it") into the fields of fiction. It also provides two of the most dazzling statements of purpose a writer has ever set down about his own art ("Finding a Form," and "The Book as a Container of Consciousness"); makes a thorough and entertaining examination of what, exactly, ought to be called "avant-garde"; examines the work of a number of other great thinker-stylists (Ford Madox Ford, Robert Walser, Wittgenstein); and provides a concise, playful history of the art of narrative as a whole. An indispensable roadmap to the language that shapes our books and our lives, Finding a Form is a milestone in American letters.
Book News Annotation:
In this collection of nineteen recent essays, critic and author Gass continues his explorations of how writing relates to life, and how the written word can be used most effectively. Decrying the encroachment of the banal onto literature, he examines the bad influence that the Pulitzer Prize and academic fiction-writing programs have had on writers and writing. Other essays deal with Ezra Pound, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, the demands of autobiography, and the "immense indifference" of the universe to the human concerns. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the author of The Tunnel comes a new collection of essays, his first in eight years, on art, writing, nature and culture. This book is by one of the most important and briliant thinkers at work today.
"No one is better than William H. Gass at communicating the sublime and rapturous excitement of reading."--Washington Post
In his first gathering of essays in several years, novelist and critic Gass's commitment to ideas, concentrated energy and originality shine through on every page . . . Gass's deeply felt essays . . . are quotable, flecked with fertile insights and a pleasure to read.William H. Gass is embattled . . . and in Finding a Form he confronts the conundrum of the writer that he has faced in previous essays: the word is sacred. Though there are no longer sacred texts, 'writing puts the writer in illusory command of the world, empowers someone otherwise powerless, but with a power no more pointed than a pencil' . . . Against the odds, William Gass, a tortured man in the attic, has empowered himself to write scripture in an unredemptive time.
About the Author
William H. Gass--essayist, novelist, literary critic--was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He has been the recipient of the first PEN/Nabokov Award, the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamondstein Award for the Art of the Essay, three National Book Critic Circle Awards for Criticism, a Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, the Award for Fiction and the Medal of Merit for Fiction from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations. He lives in St. Louis.
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