Life Sentences by William H Gass
Literary Judgments and Accounts

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...some of the best essays in “Life Sentences” are those in which Gass does not explain unfamiliar ideas, but appraises well-known literary lives.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A dazzling new collection of essays—on reading, writing, form, and thought—from one of America’s master writers.
 
It begins with the personal, both past and present. It emphasizes Gass’s lifelong attachment to books and moves on to the more analytical, as he ponders the work of some of his favorite writers (among them Kafka, Nietzsche, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Proust). He writes about a few topics equally burning but less loved (the Nobel Prize–winner and Nazi sympathizer Knut Hamsun; the Holocaust).
 
Finally, Gass ponders theoretical matters connected with literature: form and metaphor, and specifically, one of its genetic parts—the sentence.
 
Gass embraces the avant-garde but applies a classic standard of writing to all literature, which is clear in these essays, or, as he describes them, literary judgments and accounts.
 
Life Sentences is William Gass at his Gassian best.
 

About William H Gass

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William H. Gass—essayist, novelist, literary critic—was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He is the author of two novels, The Tunnel and Omensetter’s Luck, and eight books of essays, including A Temple of Texts, Tests of Time, and Finding a Form. Gass is a former professor of philosophy at Washington University. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, the architect Mary Henderson Gass.
 
Published January 17, 2012 by Knopf. 371 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction
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NY Times

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Reviewed by Adam Kirsch on Jan 20 2012

...some of the best essays in “Life Sentences” are those in which Gass does not explain unfamiliar ideas, but appraises well-known literary lives.

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