24.10.07

Online Gass

Courtesy of the Literary Saloon, news that William H. Gass has won the St. Louis Literary Award, and, on the occasion, has been profiled in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, under this lovely headline: "In the heart of the country, an honor for Bill Gass."

I thought of that article yesterday when I read, over at Conversational Reading, about Tunneling, an online archive and directory of Gass's work with links to everything available online. Stephen Schenkenberg, the editor of St. Louis Magazine, is behind the project.

All of this sent me back to two pieces by Gass that appeared in PEN America: the first, "Toward Total Recall" is a tribute to Marcel Proust, from our second issue; the second, "Lifetimes Out of Moments," is a tribute to Gertrude Stein, from PEN America 5: Silences.

Here's the end of Gass's beguiling tribute to Stein:
The human mind makes lifetimes out of moments, particulars into generalities, quirks into characters. The human mind can entice human nature into Elysium; though it can do nothing with the quaint, for, as Stein said, quaint ain’t . . . yet we are all witness to that transformation, when the human mind sips the tea and tastes the biscuit, to turn the simple offer: Have some? into a summation; for we’ve seen how a paltry pun, a phrase, those perceptions personal to style, how the right writing can drag daily life in its drudgery and exhilaration, with its restless elevators, its solemn ceremonies, from one present tense to another and another and another—for today my little dog did deign to know me, and though I was not a warrior returning in rags, I was a warrior returning in rags; a saucer enabled my cup to warm my fingers, and I felt an old friend on the lip of a story, for Gertrude Stein, as so often, was right: Every rhyme in Mother Goose is still well with us, and so, for that matter, is the Mother Goose of Montparnasse.
Read the rest here. And the tribute to Proust here.

Also, Chekhov's Mistress praises Gass's translations of Rilke, and Stephen Schenkenberg reads The Tunnel. Above, an illustration of Gass by Charles Burns for The Believer.

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