“The Genius of William Gass” – Sven Birkerts (NYRB)

In all this thinking about thought, one does begin to discern a rationale for Gass’s own artistic process, as it applies to fiction as well as the making of essays. Ever the philosopher, he takes seriously the idea that if we grant the unattainable perfections of Platonic form, all knowing and action are imperfect and partial. Unable to claim secure possession of ourselves in the light of some truth, he suggests we instead seek understanding through mimesis, through acts of projective imitation, over and over putting ourselves into the place of everything we encounter—in our living and in our art.

– “The Genius of William Gass

Having recently read Omensetter’s Luck, I plan on continuing onward to In The Heart of the Heart of the Country and probably a few essay collections – working my way chronologically through Gass’s work until, well, I get tired of doing so. I suspect I’ll have more to write about him in a month or two, but this is a fine article that assesses both his legacy and his present work.


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