A great deal of this material is perplexing, demanding, and obscure, but the author’s beautiful writing is always well worth...

THE WILLIAM H. GASS READER

A 900-page Gass-ian celebration.

This massive selection of writings by the late Gass (Eyes: Novellas and Stories, 2015, etc.), chosen by the author shortly before he died in 2017, is a fitting grand finale to an impressive and influential career. The 50 selections in the book, the oldest from 1958, are divided into four categories: Introduction, Fiction, Artists, and Theory. In “Fifty Literary Pillars,” about literature that influenced his own, his description of Jorge Luis Borges could also describe Gass: “Another amazing mind. Here is the consciousness of a devoted, playful, skeptical intelligence, a man made civilized by the library, as if to prove it can be done.” In “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction” (1970), Gass writes that “forms of fiction serve as the material upon which further forms can be imposed. Indeed, many of the so-called antinovels are really metafictions.” A whole generation of writers practiced metafiction: William Gaddis' The Recognitions was a “thunderclap,” and Gass also explores John Hawkes, John Barth, Donald Barthelme, and Robert Coover. As a philosophy professor at Washington University, metafiction was a wellspring for his criticism. As he writes at the end of “The Book as a Container of Consciousness,” it “remains for the reader to realize the text, not only by reachieving the consciousness some works create…but by appreciating the unity of book/body and book/mind that the best books bring about.” As a fiction writer, Gass was regularly praised for his subtle prose style and daunting ideas, but the books sold poorly. The Tunnel was too immense and labyrinthine, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country was too dense and lyrical, and his novella Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife (not included here) pushed its prose to the breaking point. Literature is finally catching up with him, and this compendious, literary extravaganza should spark a Gass revival.

A great deal of this material is perplexing, demanding, and obscure, but the author’s beautiful writing is always well worth a visit.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-87474-5

Page Count: 944

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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