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Middle C

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Middle C Cover

ISBN13: 9780307701633
ISBN10: 0307701638
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A literary event — the long-awaited novel, almost two decades in work, by the acclaimed author of The Tunnel (“The most beautiful, most complex, most disturbing novel to be published in my lifetime.” — Michael Silverblatt, Los Angeles Times; “An extraordinary achievement” — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post); Omensetter’s Luck (“The most important work of fiction by an American in this literary generation” — Richard Gilman, The New Republic); Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife; and In the Heart of the Heart of the Country (“These stories scrape the nerve and pierce the heart. They also replenish the language.” — Eliot Fremont-Smith, The New York Times).

Gass’s new novel moves from World War II Europe to a small town in postwar Ohio. In a series of variations, Gass gives us a mosaic of a life — futile, comic, anarchic — arranged in an array of vocabularies, altered rhythms, forms and tones, and broken pieces with music as both theme and structure, set in the key of middle C.

It begins in Graz, Austria, 1938. Joseph Skizzen's father, pretending to be Jewish, leaves his country for England with his wife and two children to avoid any connection with the Nazis, who he foresees will soon take over his homeland. In London with his family for the duration of the war, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. The family is relocated to a small town in Ohio, where Joseph Skizzen grows up, becomes a decent amateur piano player, in part to cope with the abandonment of his father, and creates as well a fantasy self — a professor with a fantasy goal: to establish the Inhumanity Museum... as Skizzen alternately feels wrongly accused (of what?) and is transported by his music. Skizzen is able to accept guilt for crimes against humanity and is protected by a secret self that remains sinless.

Middle C tells the story of this journey, an investigation into the nature of human identity and the ways in which each of us is several selves, and whether any one self is more genuine than another.

William Gass set out to write a novel that breaks traditional rules and denies itself easy solutions, cliff-edge suspense, and conventional surprises... Middle C is that book; a masterpiece by a beloved master.

Review:

“Engaging, melancholy...Gass remains a master of apt metaphors, graceful sentences and a flinty, unforgiving brand of humor; it may be the most entertaining novel you’ll read that half wishes humanity was wiped off the map....Gass, now 88, clearly has endings on his mind, which he addresses with fearsome brio and wit.” Kirkus

Review:

“Epic...crazily rich with thought...remarkably detailed....Gass beautifully coaxes the unheard music from a seemingly muted life...the model of a living, introverted mind and fodder for a symphonic anti-adventure story...the unprecedented work of a master.” Publishers Weekly 

Synopsis:

Middle C tells the story of this journey — an investigation into the nature of human identity and the ways in which each of us is several selves, and whether any one self is more genuine than another.It begins in Graz, Austria, in 1938. Joseph Skizzen's father, pretending to be Jewish, leaves his country for England with his wife and two children to avoid any connection with the Nazis, whom he foresees will soon take over his homeland. In London with his family for the duration of the war, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. The family is relocated to a small town in Ohio where Joseph Skizzen grows up, becomes a decent amateur piano player, in part to cope with the abandonment of his father, and creates as well a fantasy self — a professor with a fantasy goal: to establish the Inhumanity Museum. Skizzen has trained himself to accept guilt for crimes against humanity and protects himself with the creation of a secret self that is able to remain sinless.

About the Author

William H. Gass — essayist, novelist, literary critic — was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He is the author of six works of fiction and nine books of essays, including Life Sentences, A Temple of Texts, and Tests of Time. Gass is a former professor of philosophy at Washington University. He lives with his wife, the architect Mary Gass, in St. Louis.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

zac, April 30, 2013 (view all comments by zac)
An extraordinary and brilliant novel, if only for its both demanding and playful use of language. Then there are the breadth of its themes and the richness of its variations. Somewhere out there is a literature professor with a musical bent who can teach this with Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus." Odd that neither of the literary reviews of "Middle C" that I've come across mentioned Mann's novel, given the parallels: Schoenberg, the nature of evil, the question of identity and more. Anyway, that professor could include Richard Powers' "The Time of Our Singing," perhaps Toni Morrison's "Jazz," another novel/story that's escaping me and oh what a meta-time the students would have. It would mean a lot of pages and many hours of head scratching, but a music professor with a literary bent could ease the pain and make it all that much more rewarding. Listen up, people. Read up, people.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307701633
Author:
Gass, William H.
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Author:
Gass, William H.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Publication Date:
20130331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9.53 x 6.52 x 1.37 in 1.64 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Cultural Heritage

Middle C Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307701633 Reviews:
"Review" by , “Engaging, melancholy...Gass remains a master of apt metaphors, graceful sentences and a flinty, unforgiving brand of humor; it may be the most entertaining novel you’ll read that half wishes humanity was wiped off the map....Gass, now 88, clearly has endings on his mind, which he addresses with fearsome brio and wit.”
"Review" by , “Epic...crazily rich with thought...remarkably detailed....Gass beautifully coaxes the unheard music from a seemingly muted life...the model of a living, introverted mind and fodder for a symphonic anti-adventure story...the unprecedented work of a master.”
"Synopsis" by , Middle C tells the story of this journey — an investigation into the nature of human identity and the ways in which each of us is several selves, and whether any one self is more genuine than another.It begins in Graz, Austria, in 1938. Joseph Skizzen's father, pretending to be Jewish, leaves his country for England with his wife and two children to avoid any connection with the Nazis, whom he foresees will soon take over his homeland. In London with his family for the duration of the war, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. The family is relocated to a small town in Ohio where Joseph Skizzen grows up, becomes a decent amateur piano player, in part to cope with the abandonment of his father, and creates as well a fantasy self — a professor with a fantasy goal: to establish the Inhumanity Museum. Skizzen has trained himself to accept guilt for crimes against humanity and protects himself with the creation of a secret self that is able to remain sinless.
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