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At Swim-Two-Birds
Flann O'Brien
156478181X
July 1998
Paperback
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Book Review Reviews
In a 1938 letter to a literary agent, Flann O'Brien described his first novel as "a very queer affair, unbearably queer perhaps." The book in question was At Swim-Two-Birds--and if we take queer to mean diabolically eccentric, then truer words were never spoken. The author, whose real name was Brian O'Nolan, had successfully stirred Gaelic legend, pulp fiction, and grimy Dublin realism into a hilarious cocktail. His mastery of modernist collage would have been an ample accomplishment itself. But O'Brien was also blessed with the writer's equivalent of perfect pitch, and in At Swim-Two-Birds he squeezes the maximum beauty and banality out of the English language. All he lacks is a tragic register, but he makes up for this deficit with a sense of comedy so acute that even James Joyce couldn't resist blurbing his...


The Recognitions
William Gaddis
0140187081
May 1993
Paperback
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Horses: Photographs
Michael Eastman (Photographer)
0375414681
October 2003
Hardcover
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Book Description
More than a hundred extraordinary portraits—lush, rich, textured, sculptural—that reveal the spirit and nobility of the horse. Portraits of horses gazing at the camera, standing in the golden light, stamping away flies, galloping, bucking, rolling in the dust.

They are the work of Michael Eastman, a self-taught photographer influenced by Edward Weston, Walker Evans, and Henry Moore, who spent thirty years capturing the essential nature of subjects that range from Cuban life to landscapes to architecture in many places. Now he turns his refined eye to the magnificent horse.
Eastman has caught the animal’s complexity and power, fear and courage, goodness, masculinity, femininity, uniqueness.

“All animals are wonderful,” says Eastman, “but horses are truly...


Omensetter's Luck
William H. Gass
0141180102
Apr 1997
Paperback
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From Library Journal
This Sound and Fury-esque novel relates the action from several characters' points of view as it follows the ramblings of the title character and his family through Ohio. Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Tests of Time
William H. Gass
0226284069
June 2003
Paperback
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Book Review
For those willing to overlook the author's wandering style and bursts of elitism, William H. Gass's latest series of essays, Tests of Time, yields many rewards. Gass unifies this ambitious work with a focus on the ethics of writing, and, on a more general level, morality. The first of three sections, Literary Matters, includes essays investigating the nature of narrative, experimental fiction, writing's effect on memory and experience, and culture and canonization. The second section, Social and Political Contretemps, explores the influence of politics, religion, censorship, and nationalism on writers, as well as the similarities between American and German culture. Finally, the Stuttgart Seminar Lectures section concerns the value of well-documented history and artistic writing. Gass insists throughout that only through...


The Praise of Folly
Desiderius Erasmus
0300023731
May 1979
Paperback
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Book Description
A satire on the pretensions of Erasmus's contemporaries in the Church and philosophy


Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
Rainer Maria Rilke
0679732454
November 1990
Paperback
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Review
"An almost perfect equivalent for the original." -- The New York Review of Books

"An extraordinary...translation of one of the world's most beautiful books." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

Review
"An almost perfect equivalent for the original." -- The New York Review of Books

"An extraordinary...translation of one of the world's most beautiful books." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

See all Editorial Reviews


A Temple of Texts
William H. Gass
0307262863
Feb 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Gass loves words. His prose is extravagant, lush, sometimes overly florid (as when he talks of Flann O'Brien's death on "the first Fools' Day of April, 1966"), and in this new collection, his words have a tendency to get in the way of his subject matter. Which is a shame, because Gass, a novelist and award-winning critic, writes about books and authors often ignored by mainstream readers: Rabelais, Robert Burton, Elias Canetti. Then again, Gass doesn't write for the mainstream. He is the strangest of academic amalgams: a self-professed lover of the avant-garde as represented by Gertrude Stein, Flann O'Brien and Robert Coover, while at the same time he extols the virtues of what he calls "the classics." His definition of classic is, to be sure, expansive, but he applies an old-fashioned standard to all literature,...


Understanding William H. Gass
H. L. Hix
1570034729
July 2002
Hardcover
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Book Description
William H. Gass writes in his essays about "the world within the word" and "the soul inside the sentence," yet readers often find it difficult to get far enough into Gass's words and sentences to find the world or soul they contain. In this guide to the American writer and philosopher's novels, short stories, novellas, and essays, H. L. Hix clarifies the obscurities that have served to limit access to Gass's corpus and explores how the parallels between his fiction and nonfiction illumine their related themes. Hix offers readings of Gass's works, from the early books, Omensetter's Luck and In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, to his later The Tunnel and Cartesian Sonata. Hix identifies the continuous presence of psychological, metaphysical, and ethical themes, including the lingering effect on adults of...


Cartesian Sonata
William H. Gass
0465026206
Feb 2000
Paperback
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Book Review
Reading William H. Gass's fiction is a little like looking at oneself in a fractured mirror: the usual components are all there, but not necessarily in the right places. Take, for example, the title novella of Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas: here Gass introduces us to Ella Bend, a sensitive clairvoyant married to a rather burdensome husband. But no sooner does Gass get us started with a very conventional opening, ("This is the story of Ella Bend Hess, of how she became clairvoyant and what she was able to see") than he injects himself into it ("Her gift was the gift of the gods … inexplicable and merciless. Marvelous is what I mean. Miraculous. Mysterious? Surely not a word so weak. Yet it has to begin with an m"). It isn't long before Ella becomes a bit player in her own story, the starring role having been...


Conversations with William H. Gass
Theodore G. Ammon (Editor)
157806547X
July 2003
Paperback
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Reading Rilke
William H. Gass
0465026222
Nov 2000
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
In 1922, four years before he died of leukemia at age 51, Rilke finally completed the Duino Elegies, named for the castle where they poured out over an intensive four day (and night) period; within days of their completion, the Sonnets to Orpheus emerged as a reality-affirming coda. Rilke's dense and intricate verbal texture has made translation all the more irresistible over the years, and Gass, an intellectual eminence (Cartesian Sonata; Finding a Form; The Tunnel; etc.) is the first to meet the challenge discursively: this genre-bending book is a series of personal essaysAat times veering between melodramatic and ellipticalAthat explore Rilke's biography as much as they address Gass's own difficult choices in the translations scattered throughout. Gass vividly evokes a poet "getting used to strange dark halls,...


Into the Tunnel: Readings of Gass's Novel
Steven G. Kellman (Editor)
0874136423
August 1998
Hardcover
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World W/I the Word Essays PB
William H. Gass
0465026257
Nov 2000
Paperback
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Book Description
William H. Gass, one of America's most brilliant and eclectic minds, examines literature, culture, writers, and the nature and uses of language and the written word. In this sequel to Fiction & the Figures of Life, one of America's most brilliant and eclectic minds examines literature, culture, writers (their lives and works), and the nature and uses of language and the written word. Included are discussions of Valry, Henry Miller, Sartre, Freud, Faulkner, suicide, "art and order," and the transformation of language into poetry and fiction. The vividness and clarity of Gass's writing, the unabashed love and inimitable use of language-his startling metaphors, the sinuousness of his philosophy, the originality of his vision-make each essay a searching revelation of its subject, as well as an example of Gass's own...


Morte D'urban
J. F. Powers
0940322234
April 2000
Paperback
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Book Review
A comic masterpiece by a criminally neglected writer, J.F. Powers's Morte D'Urban has had a checkered commercial history from the very start. The original publisher failed to reprint the novel after it won the 1963 National Book Award, and although it's had various paperback reincarnations since then, these too have tended to disappear from the shelves. Perhaps any novel about Catholic priests in the Protestant Midwest would be in for some tough sledding. Still, it's hard to think of a funnier piece of writing, or one more accurately attuned to the deadpan rhythms of American speech. Doubters need only consult Father Urban's sermons, which mix pure banality and theological hairsplitting in such exact proportions as to suggest Babbitt in a clerical collar. Yet Powers also manages a kind of last-minute legerdemain,...


Finding a Form
William H. Gass
0801484898
Nov 1997
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
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. The title essay, an exploration of how writers navigate complex, refractory reality, discloses how his childhood with an abusive father and alcoholic mother influenced his escape into writing and shaped his fictional characters, symbols and preoccupations. "Nature, Culture, and Cosmos" pessimistically gauges the "immense indifference" of the universe to our moral values and our deaths. Other pieces deal with Ezra Pound as a failed modernist; the lives of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein in relation to their thought; various species of the avant-garde from Pierre de Ronsard to Degas, Beckett and the Bauhaus; the exacting demands of autobiography; the Pulitzer...


Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife
William H. Gass
1564782123
September 1998
Paperback
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The Geographical History of America
Gertrude Stein
0801851335
June 1995
Paperback
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From Library Journal
Considering most readers don't understand a thing she writes, Stein's continuing popularity is astounding. Both the plays and the history of America are presented here in her own inimitable style. For the serious literati.Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review
"The Geographical History of America is a culminating work... the stylized presentation of the process of meditation itself, with many critical asides. It demonstrates far more than it proves, and although it is in no sense a volume of philosophy (Gertrude Stein never 'argues' anything), it is, philosophically, the most important of her texts." -- William H. Gass

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