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Omensetter's Luck [PDF / EPUB] Omensetter's Luck Greeted as a masterpiece when it was first published in , Omensetter s Luck is the quirky, impressionistic, and breathtakingly original story of an ordinary community galvanized by the presence of an Greeted as a masterpiece when it was first published in , Omensetter s Luck is the quirky, impressionistic, and breathtakingly original story of an ordinary community galvanized by the presence of an extraordinary man Set in a small Ohio town in the s, it chronicles through the voices of various participants and observers the confrontation between Brackett Omensetter, a man of preternatural goodness, and the Reverend Jethro Furber, a preacher crazed with a propensity for violent thoughts Omensetter s Luck meticulously brings to life a specific time and place as it illuminates timeless questions about life, love, good, and evil.


About the Author: William H. Gass

William Howard Gass was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, critic, and former philosophy professorGass was born in Fargo, North Dakota Soon after his birth, his family moved to Warren, Ohio, where he attended local schools He has described his childhood as an unhappy one, with an abusive, racist father and a passive, alcoholic mother critics would later cite his characters as having these same qualitiesHe attended Wesleyan University, then served as an Ensign in the Navy during World War II, a period he describes as perhaps the worst of his life He earned his AB in philosophy from Kenyon College in , then his PhD in philosophy from Cornell University in , where he studied under Max Black His dissertation, A Philosophical Investigation of Metaphor , was based on his training as a philosopher of language In graduate school Gass read the work of Gertrude Stein, who influenced his writing experimentsGass taught at The College of Wooster, Purdue University, and Washington University in St Louis, where he was a professor of philosophy and the David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities His colleagues there have included the writers Stanley Elkin, Howard Nemerov Poet Laureate of the United States , and Mona Van Duyn Poet Laureate Since , Gass has been the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the HumanitiesEarning a living for himself and his family from university teaching, Gass began to publish stories that were selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of , , , and , as well as Two Hundred Years of Great American Short Stories His first novel, Omensetter s Luck, about life in a small town in Ohio in the s, was published in Critics praised his linguistic virtuosity, establishing him as an important writer of fiction In he published In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, five stories dramatizing the theme of human isolation and the difficulty of love Three years later Gass wrote Willie Masters Lonesome Wife, an experimental novella illustrated with photographs and typographical constructs intended to help readers free themselves from the linear conventions of narrative He has also published several collections of essays, including On Being Blue and Finding a Form His latest work of fiction, Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas, was published in His work has also appeared in The Best American Essays collections of , , and Gass has cited the anger he felt during his childhood as a major influence on his work, even stating that he writes to get even Despite his prolific output, he has said that writing is difficult for him In fact, his epic novel The Tunnel, published in , took Gass years to compose An unabridged audio version of The Tunnel was released in , with Gass reading the novel himselfWhen writing, Gass typically devotes enormous attention to the construction of sentences, arguing their importance as the basis of his work His prose has been described as flashy, difficult, edgy, masterful, inventive, and musical Steven Moore, writing in The Washington Post has called Gass the finest prose stylist in America Much of Gass work is metafictionalGass has received many awards and honors, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation in , the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation in He won the Pushcart Prize awards in , , , and , and in he received the Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Literature of the Midwest He has teaching awards from Purdue University and Washington University in the Chicago Tribune Award as One of the Ten Best Teachers in the Big Ten He was a Getty Foundation Fellow in He received the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award in and the American Book Award for The.



10 thoughts on “Omensetter's Luck

  1. says:

    Words were superior they maintained a superior control they touched without your touching they were at once the bait, the hook, the line, the pole, and the water in between.I ve always admired the craftsmanship that goes into building a piece of fine furniture or sewing a handmade garment or painstakingly painting a piece of china I guess you could say William Gass is a craftsman of a different kind, a craftsman of words It s remarkable to me how this man took 26 simple letters and creatWords were superior they maintained a superior control they touched without your touching they were at once the bait, the hook, the line, the pole, and the water in between.I ve always admired the craftsmanship that goes into building a piece of fine furniture or sewing a handmade garment or painstakingly painting a piece of china I guess you could say William Gass is a craftsman of a different kind, a craftsman of words It s remarkable to me how this man took 26 simple letters and created with them this masterpiece of post modern fiction I ve done a little homework and discovered a bit about Gass s writing process how he writes sort of moment to moment, sentence by sentence without really knowing in advance how a thing will turn out Interestingly, from what I ve read, the original manuscript for Omensetter s Luck his only copy was stolen, requiring Gass to begin anew And apparently, the character Reverend Jethro Furber did not appear in the initial manuscript, and even in the rewriting, Furber was to be a minor character But I guess Furber refused to be stifled, and we are all lucky for it.I ve said that I found Reverend Jethro Furber to be the most despicable villain I ve ever encountered I take that back What we find about Furber along the way, as his character develops, is that he, like everyone else, is just a man He s a calculating, cunning, hideous, heinous, hedonistic, hoodwinking human being Maybe we expectfrom him as a man of God, which is why his behavior is so startling, so disconcerting While the characters are interesting and the story is compelling, the real reason to read this novel is the writing It s the clanging, banging, rhythmic sentences the artistry of words It s the kind of book that should be read ALOUD The complexity of form, the demands made on the reader the perplexity of it all these are the things I search for Creativity, bravery, honesty give me these above plot, above everything else Make me work for my reward MAKE me start over DEMAND my full attention I expect nothing less from a great writer And Mr Gass is certainly one of the greats


  2. says:

    Israbestis Tott is like a well, full to the brim with stories He draws up stories daily, hourly, first lines spilling from his lips by the minute In the mornings, Matt was like a bell Omensetter was a wide and happy man Furber never listened He declaimed Henry Pimber lay with lockjaw in his bedThere is the story of Kick s cat, the story of the man who went to pieces, the story of the high and iron fence There is the story of the Hen Woods burning, the story of the hunt for Hog Bellm Israbestis Tott is like a well, full to the brim with stories He draws up stories daily, hourly, first lines spilling from his lips by the minute In the mornings, Matt was like a bell Omensetter was a wide and happy man Furber never listened He declaimed Henry Pimber lay with lockjaw in his bedThere is the story of Kick s cat, the story of the man who went to pieces, the story of the high and iron fence There is the story of the Hen Woods burning, the story of the hunt for Hog Bellman, the story of the cut rate tonsillectomy But no one wants to hear Tott s stories, they are an odd lot, he can t even auction them off.So Tott tells them to himself as he rambles about his old haunts or while lying on his bed when he is too tired to ramble And depending on how he tells them, the stories are different, because Tott knows, and we know, that there are almost as many ways to tell a story as there are stories told, and that every time it gets a telling, the story becomes a new and different story while always remainingor less the same story.Take the story of Henry Pimber and Jethro Furber, for example tell the story from Henry s side, it is the story of the fox, the well and the great white oak tell it from Jethro s point of view, it is the story of the stalking stiff legged jackdaw, clacking futilely tell it through the bulk of Omensetter, it becomes another story, a bitter story, an ancient story There could have been ten, a hundred, stories in this book We know they are waiting to be drawn from the well we see them glint and shimmer at the bottom But Tott decides to give us only three Henry s story Furber s story and wrapping itself around them both, the story of Omensetter So the three become one the end of innocence story, the leave taking story, the very first story I like the pale geometry of the windows in the dark church like space William Gass has created in this book I like the quality of the light that pours in, sometimes clear and bright, sometimes hazy and murky I follow the dust motes as they float erratically, erotically, making shapes and breaking apart, ditties and couplets, Shakespeare and the Old Testament, all caught up in a very unmerry but mirthful dance while Joyce, underneath, the blood about its business, looks on from the side aisle.William Gass, I am happy to have met you at last


  3. says:

    ..when I was a little boy and learning letters A , B , C , love was never taught to me, I couldn t spell it, the O was always missing, or the V, so I wrote love like live, or lure, or late, or law, or liar. Omensetter s Luck is an ode to words While in most of the fiction writing, the characters, the plot, the beginning, the middle the end, all gives rise to the words, it s the other way round in case of this book, and William Howard Gass is a wordsmith and a tough task master It ..when I was a little boy and learning letters A , B , C , love was never taught to me, I couldn t spell it, the O was always missing, or the V, so I wrote love like live, or lure, or late, or law, or liar. Omensetter s Luck is an ode to words While in most of the fiction writing, the characters, the plot, the beginning, the middle the end, all gives rise to the words, it s the other way round in case of this book, and William Howard Gass is a wordsmith and a tough task master It s a complex novel to begin with and the question what the hell is going on becomes one repetitive voice in the head of a reader The re reading of various passages is inevitable, their understanding, however, is questionable Therefore this book demands an attentive reading, wherein it s advisable not to overlook even a single punctuation mark.Divided into 3 parts, the first part,The Triumph of Israbestis Tott deals with Israbestis tott, the gossiper of the town whose sole pleasure in his old age is to tell the stories and his fixation with finding the listeners for his storiesI know these stories Most of them are mine, my mouth gave each of them its shape, but I ve no teeth to chew my long sweet youth again.Are those stories reliable is a different question altogether This part mainly works as a preface to the rest of the book with introducing us to various characters with a blurred outline of their lives.The second part, The Love and Sorrow of Henry Pimber, marks the introduction of Brackett Wide and Happy Omensetter and his arrival along with his family in Gilean, Ohio How the relationship of Henry and Brackett unfolds beyond the limits of tenant landlord standards, for better or for worse is depicted here The luck in Omensetter s Luck is also highlighted in aincisive way in this section which gives us an idea as to how it affected lives of both Omensetter and the other town folks, especially that of Henry The third and final partThe Reverend, Jethro Furber s Change of Heart is the longest and the most difficult portion of the book Furber is a town Preacher, and one deranged, despicable and dirrrty old manGod I m Don t say old though, it smacks of affection. See With stream of consciousness narrative mode and with little or no bifurcation between dialogue and thoughts it renders the reading frustrating The key is to read slowly and accept the fact that not everything is meant to be understood but simply to enjoy like someone said in this bookThe words are high and fine beyond my understanding but I like their sound. Furber is a strong literary character and the star of this book His mind is his abode and he feeds upon his words He breaks into rhymes without any reason, makes various biblical references in a metaphorical fashion and grows repulsive of Omensetter and his inhuman ways He devises various lies against him but eventually he experience a change of heart This section provides us a brilliant insight into Gass s ingenious talent with his words and also the extent of his philosophical knowledge So, where s Omensetter in all this He s mostly in thoughts of other characters and less in action He s the talk of the town but hardly participates in speech himself Or in the words of Gass,he is basically a person without language He is a wall everybody bounces a ball offAnd what about this luck of his This book is basically symbolic of Adam and Eve s myth and how the knowledge of Brackett about his luck resulted in his fallIf Brackett Omensetter had ever had the secret of how to live, he hadn t known it Now the difference was he knew Everyone at last had managed to tell him, and now like everybody else he was wondering what it was. Omensetter is reckless and simply live his life He never bothers to stop and observe his life and that what makes everything lucky for himHe stored his pay in a sock which hung from his bench, went about oblivious of either time or weather, habitually permitted things which he d collected like a schoolboy to slip through holes in his trousers He kept worms under saucers, stones in cans, poked the dirt all the time with twigs, and fed squirrels navy beans and sometimes noodles from his hands Broken tools bemused him he often ate lunch with his eyes shut and, needless to say, he laughed a lot He let his hair grow he only intermittently shaved who knew if he washed and when he went to pee, he simply let his pants drop. And maybe that s how it is When a human is free from all the human ways, free from any examination or judgment is when one can find paradise on earth, else it s always a living hell A message which needs reminding again and again, and when it s communicated through the magical words within the magical sentences Gass forms, we better learn it Everyone should read Gass, that s all I want to convey in a nutshell


  4. says:

    A wonderful postmodern novel set in Gilean, Ohio in the 1890s Brackett Omensetter arrives in the town with his family He appears to be at one with the world I ve seen the word congruity used to describe his relationship with the world His wagon is open and rain seems inevitable, but does not come He moves into a property which is flooded regularly, but while Omensetter is there the land floods around his property, but he remains dry He disturbs the locals his landlord, Henry Pimber seems A wonderful postmodern novel set in Gilean, Ohio in the 1890s Brackett Omensetter arrives in the town with his family He appears to be at one with the world I ve seen the word congruity used to describe his relationship with the world His wagon is open and rain seems inevitable, but does not come He moves into a property which is flooded regularly, but while Omensetter is there the land floods around his property, but he remains dry He disturbs the locals his landlord, Henry Pimber seems to become envious of Omensetter The local preacher, Jethro Furber the central voice in the book is in some senses Omensetter s opposite pole Furber is, in my opinion, one of the great literary creations and as you spend a good deal of the novel inside his head, you get to know him quite well.The novel opens with Israbestis Tott don t you live those names looking back then Henry Pimber soon to be deceased has his say The bulk of the novel belongs to Furber It must be said that they are all, to a man, unreliable narrators They describe Omensetter s arrival, his effect on the community and especially on Furber, his healing of Henry with a makeshift poultice, Henry s disappearance, Furber s successful attempt to turn people against Omensetter, Henry s death and the loss of Omensetter s luck The whole is written in magnificently constructed prose to put in quotes here would be difficult without putting in most of the book, but here is how Brackett Omensetter is introduced Brackett Omensetter was a wide and happy man He could whistle like the cardinal whistles in the deep snow, or whirr like the shy white rising from its cover, or be the lark a chuckle at the sky He knew the earth He put his hands in water He smelled the clean fir smell He listened to the bees And he laughed his deep, loud, wide happy laugh whenever he could which was often long and joyfully Earth, air and water Omensetter is a bit of a conundrum he is on the surface seen as good, moral and a symbol of innocence Almost a force of nature with his luck However there are a couple of interesting incidents When the fox is stuck in the well it is Henry Pimber s instinct to free him Omensetter refuses to release the fox, saying it is natural to leave him there to starve if fate doesn t help him out It never occurs to Omensetter that he might be an instrument of fate The same situation applies when at the end of the book Omensetter refuses to fetch a doctor to his baby son, who has diphtheria Omensetter, unlike the rest of the community, does not attend Church on Sunday, preferring to walk with his family Goodness does not seem to me to be the right word for Omensetter There is perhaps the beginning of the idea that although this is all about good and evil, life and death, love and hate these concepts cannot be represented separately Innocence is ultimately corrupt.Then we come to Furber Jethro Furber is a tormented, crazed, sex obsessed, unbelieving preacher His interior monologue is scatological, blasphemous, colourful and full of rhymes and doggerel Many of these are the sort of playground rhymes that we all learnt at school but funny for all that As Omensetter s life begins to fall apart, Furber moves towards redemption Furber s language and metaphors are startling The words popped from their rounded cheeks like half eaten figs that from the first page I opened and the first sentence I looked at Furber does eventually express his unbelief from the pulpit We are here yes yet we do not belong This, my friends is the source of all religious feeling On this truth everything depends We are here yet we do not belong and though we need comfort and hope and strength to sustain us, anything that draws us nearer to this life and puts us in desire of it is deeply wrong and greatly deceives us.I ask you now to ask yourselves one simple foolish question to say was I born for this and I ask you please to face it honestly and answer yea if you can or nay if you must.For this You rise in the morning, you stretch, you scratch your chest.For this All night, while you snored, the moon burned as it burned for Jesus or for Caesar.You wash, you dress.For this..So you were meant for this You ve your eyes, your human consciousness for this It is a magnificent tour de force throughout I do feel I understand something about Furber In my younger days I was an Anglican priest Episcopalian in the US I had been brought up Pentecostal, moved away from fundamentalism at university and became an Anglican By my late 20s I gradually came to the conclusion I no longer believed in God or the Church and I was a priest My house, job and wage all tied up in it I could have done what many clergy do decided God was immanent within rather than transcendent and the language was symbol and metaphor with no life everlasting just be nice to each other The tension created madness in Furber and I recognize that stress and the anguish I left the church as I could not contemplate living and preaching what I did not believe Furber ends up defending Omensetter after trying to destroy him and goes on to have a breakdown.The whole book is a delight it is hard work at times, but well worth the effort it considers the very basic and important human questions and deals with them in a unique and poetic way A great American novel


  5. says:

    In his afterword, Gass kibitzes about the strange route to finally scorch Omensetter s Luck into print His original MS was filched by a creepy colleague a possible candidate for the punning Culp in The Tunnel and rewritten tirelessly over the unhappy fifties and sixties, with the occasional interlude for prawn poisoning and Accent success Eventually the novel appeared in 1966 with help from his friends, falling to earth like a particularly tetchy meteorite Comparisons to Faulkner, Joyce and In his afterword, Gass kibitzes about the strange route to finally scorch Omensetter s Luck into print His original MS was filched by a creepy colleague a possible candidate for the punning Culp in The Tunnel and rewritten tirelessly over the unhappy fifties and sixties, with the occasional interlude for prawn poisoning and Accent success Eventually the novel appeared in 1966 with help from his friends, falling to earth like a particularly tetchy meteorite Comparisons to Faulkner, Joyce and Stein are slung about like so many dead cats at a dead cat convention, and while Gass is clearly working within a strictly modernist mode, the comparisons confine this masterful prose to the redundancy of similarity sure, Furber s internal monologue has the meandering drear of Dedalus on the beach, and parts of his narration drift into Steinian opacity but the way Gass builds the rage, tension, madness and fly on the wall horror of this novel is unique to his own dark vision The Furber story, at over 225pp, is where Gass truly grinds his barbed wire prose into the page, building up this bent cleric s downfall with symphonic dialogue and monologue, until the most lucid and devastating stretch of the 70 or so pages that wind up the novel with an extended scene that drips with futility and hopelessness and black humour If not quite as musical or accomplished as The Tunnel, this debut novel still hurts and hates a lot Hard


  6. says:

    I Know Not WhenceNor Whither, Willy Nilly Blowing William H Gass positions words on the page, one after the other Soon, a sentence takes shape, then a paragraph, then a chapter, then a section, then a novel in its entirety.The words are not necessarily directional from the outset A sentence goes in the direction dictated by each additional word They don t necessarily follow a preordained sequence or work towards a goalI know not whence, like water willy nilly flowing Nor whither, wi I Know Not WhenceNor Whither, Willy Nilly Blowing William H Gass positions words on the page, one after the other Soon, a sentence takes shape, then a paragraph, then a chapter, then a section, then a novel in its entirety.The words are not necessarily directional from the outset A sentence goes in the direction dictated by each additional word They don t necessarily follow a preordained sequence or work towards a goalI know not whence, like water willy nilly flowing Nor whither, willy nilly blowingRub iy t of Omar Khayy mLike Omensetter, Gass our very own Willy Nilly is prepared to try his luck, tempt fate, go with the flow, see what happens The Moving Finger Writes and, Having Writ, Moves On There is no necessary plot as such The novel emerges from the natural flowYou do not tell a story your fiction will do that when your fiction is finishedGass is the vehicle for these words to get onto the page His is the hand that moves or the finger that writesThe Moving Finger writes and, having writ,Moves onRub iy t of Omar Khayy mHis words are poetry They are made to be spoken, to feel your tongue and lips and teeth move around them, they are made to be heard, even if you only listen to your own voice, whether inwardly in the imagination or outwardly alive and aloud The Movement of LanguageGass is interested in the movement of language , as well as the language of movement.These words sound, they move around, they jostle for favour Together they constitute or compose musicWhat you make is music, and because your sounds are carriers of concepts, you make conceptual music, tooHaving achieved their task, the words move to the back, unchanged, permanent, irrevocableNor all thy Piety nor Wit,Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of itRub iy t of Omar Khayy mThe words are passed, gone, irrecoverable, at least until, in the manner of Proust, they insinuate their way into the memory of the reader and insist on being recalled.Only, in the unique case of Omensetter s Luck , this is not strictly correct Gass initial draft of the novel was stolen, and he had to reconstruct it from memory Ironically, he felt it improved in the process.Still, Omensetter s Luck is for me an example of what Gass said about Italo Calvino s Invisible Citiesit is one of the purer works of the imagination It is prose elevated to poetry without the least sign of strainOmensetter and His LuckWhile the novel is named after Omensetter, or at least his luck, I wouldn t say that he is the chief protagonist.He is a relative innocent, an ing nue, a na f, almost a simpleton, someone who is content to see what fortune has in store for him In the words of Israbestis Tott, town gossip, when he arrivedHe had everything he owned piled up in the wagon with this cradle tied to the top of it, and nothing covered That was the kind of fellow Brackett Omenstter was He knew it wasn t going to rain again He counted on his luck He is passive rather than active, he is not an agent who dictates the direction of his own life or that of his family He declines to rescue a fox that is trapped in a well, he fails to obtain medical assistance for his own sick baby If either were to die, he would justify it as God s willThe Sky Rolls Impotently On As Thou or I Rub iy t of Omar Khayy mIn a way, he succumbs to determinism He bears no burden of decision or responsibility His plight, his blessing and his curse, is to lose the heaviness of life.This approach to life might be understandable if you only have to deal with nature Perhaps we are powerless in its path The problems start when you join a community or broader society.The Love and Sorrows of Henry PimberHenry Pimber, who soon becomes Omensetter s landlord, thinks he is a foolish, dirty, careless man.Yet, others describe him as a natural born politician he s what they call the magnetic kind Their faith is borne out when Omensetter apparently heals an affliction that Henry suffers metaphorically, like the fox, Pimber s down our well , after which Henry s own salvation was the central thing.This salvation implicitly challenges the authority of the local Doctor Orcutt and the faith in and of Reverend Jethro Furber.The Reverend Jethro Furber s Change of HeartGass devotes three quarters of his novel to Furber, the real protagonist, despicable as he is He is trained in rhetoric and has the town under his control, until Omensetter s arrival Gass uses a stream of consciousness technique to show us what is really happening in the mind of this man of the cloth He is both lascivious and lyrical in an almost Old Testament fashion, shaping his lips for strong sounds He obsesses about the glabrous cleft of a young girl s private parts and the lower lips of fatty Ruth Espying an older woman with large breasts, he imagines himself partaking in a tipple from her mountainous nipple Yet he sits in judgement, as God s proxy, over the lewd speech and slovenly habits of the townfolk, preaching against frivolity with heat He counsels the congregation against indecent prepositions , all the time contemplating indecent propositions It seems as if Furber is the most vulnerable to the way of all flesh.Gass signals that Furber might undergo a change of heart with the title to this section I won t discuss whether or how this occurs The plot detail is not important, but it is desirable that readers experience how he uses language to achieve what little overt plot he utilises to serve his literary purpose.These Are a Few of My Favourite ThingsIt remains to let you sample Gass writing Below are some examples of his prose that I have arbitrarily chosen and versified.I hope you can sense and enjoy the movement of languageEvery bush would blossomEach twig sharply thrownAnd every paltry post embarkFor consciousness as huge Well the rose is too commonAnd the phallus too foolish There was hair and nose and napkin clothAnd painted trim along the stair She was like an after image stillA scar of lightA sailor s deep tattoo How could man begetUnless his flesh would riseAnd what was there in innocenceTo move the simplest muscleIn a gesture of desire He s a bit betterAnd a bit luckierMaybeThan most of us They would wallow safelyIn the worst sensationsConceive the most obscene devicesPlace him, their preacherIn vulgar posturesRavish him on ornate altarsOr on the floors of pews The penis in reposeProfessorWith that little hat of skinWhy, it s a lovely childlike thingAnd each man s gentle babyhood Is in it He had fathered every folly, every sinNo goat knew gluttony like thisNo cat had felt his prideNo crow his avarice Note how sweetlyI pronounce herMusically wigwagMy ringalingling tongue You may call our soul our bestBut this, our body, is our love


  7. says:

    Word, word, what is a word,Can it be seen, can it be heard,down with the fish, up with the bird,floating obscene, flying absurd A word is a word is a word Gertrude Stein Obscene A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit Samuel Johnson, lexicographer Absurd Do you see where I m getting Am I not being clear I was doing quite well,Dan Word, word, what is a word,Can it be seen, can it be heard,down with the fish, up with the bird,floating obscene, flying absurd A word is a word is a word Gertrude Stein Obscene A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit Samuel Johnson, lexicographer Absurd Do you see where I m getting Am I not being clear I was doing quite well,Dancing round here.Perhaps a danceis not what you need,too much distraction,not enough creed.Well then here How aboutwe go nice and slow Let down from the jigand let the words flow We re still running on, but at a set level, carrying and clearing for a paththeoretical,to the words Rhythm is all very well, but the pure experience can only get you so far The dance is done, the seconds blanked with enthusiasm are now filling up again with small thoughts and phrasesWord, word, what is a word A word is a chunk, a breath, a shape that flies far for all that it embodies The inherent history and meaning in each of these small creatures should drop it like a stone from the mouth, sink the head down in the mind And yet, simply release them into the air, and they speed out far quicker than belief can tell.They take root even faster The moving, the still, the kind, the cruel, the extruding force and the intrusive gaze, all minds run lurid when words delve deep into their soft and tender flesh Oftentimes, the roots grow deep, and the growths run strange.Shocking, the actions that can sprout from such frenzied throes of so small a thing Furious Logorrhea A RecipeIngredients 1 One Human Being A for Short 2 The Word of God Any Word Will Do 3 Knowledge of Sin4 Guilt5 Fear of Living6 Love of Logos7 One Congregation8 One Human Being, Full of Joy and Love for Living, sans The Word of God B for Short Steps1 Emotional Physical Isolation of A2 Add The Word of God3 Ferment, mixing in additional Knowledge of Sin, Guilt, Fear of Living, and Love of Logos as needed.4 Add One Congregation Pause Step 1 when interaction is guaranteed to result in Rage and Contempt Remove products to keep a steady reaction.5 Steep until optimal mix of Yearning and Loathing is desired.6 Add B. Words can be wrapped and remembered as friends, unwrapped into points to spit yourself upon Words cradle you when living is futile, and keep life from you at arms length Words are careful in their constructions about you, careful enough to leave you with nothing but a sense of wasted time Words feed you your past when it is spent, and starve you of the present Many words spat out at an object will pattern it into paper, much as an X ray clings to the bones and ghosts them outside the body Unlike X rays, there is no safe amount of words.Words and Life are infections, ultimately fatal Fortunately for the record of human existence, they don t like each other very much It makes for an entertaining show Word, word, what is a word,Can it be seen, can it be heard,down with the fish, up with the bird,floating obscene, flying absurd A word is a beaut, a word is a praise,a word can holler and call out your name,when you are sad, or left by yourself,words can be such a wonderful game.A word is a noose, a word is a knife,a word breaks the living faster than thought,when you are careless and surrounded by few,the power of words you ll soon have forgot.A word is your devil, a word is your guide,a word is your womb, and in it you hide


  8. says:

    According to some interviews and things like that Omensetter s Luck was DFW s favorite books My own track record with reading DFW recommended books is hit and miss, sometimes they seem to work out and other times as in the case of a Curtis White novel I am just left feeling blah and unimpressed This book falls into the second category.Parts of the book are really great and some of the writing is phenomenal but I felt that the whole subject matter of the book just didn t do too much for me I According to some interviews and things like that Omensetter s Luck was DFW s favorite books My own track record with reading DFW recommended books is hit and miss, sometimes they seem to work out and other times as in the case of a Curtis White novel I am just left feeling blah and unimpressed This book falls into the second category.Parts of the book are really great and some of the writing is phenomenal but I felt that the whole subject matter of the book just didn t do too much for me I find this a little weird because normally I m all about religion belief and disbelief and all of that jazz in books And looking back on the novel I do see some interesting things going on in the novel, but the overall execution of the work felt a little lacking to me It s possible that William Gass just isn t for me This is my second attempt at reading him and I found the experience of this novel to be less painful than reading the gigantic The Tunnel but again I feel a little baffled about why I didn t like his books On paper I mean theoretical paper, not paper paper, which is the medium I read my books on thank you I should love William Gass He writes about topics I normally enjoy He falls into the difficult camp of Pynchon, Gaddis, DFW that I drool over like a incontinent fanboy, and I should welcome the challenges his texts offer I can t put my finger on why he doesn t do it for me though I can t say that it s the style he writes in, it s very similar to the way William Gaddis structured JR, except that it s easier to follow since usually you are just dealing with the focus on one character and not an ever shifting narrative thread except for possibly the first short chapter of the book, which I enjoyedthan the rest of the novel I won t bore anyone reading this with my stream of conscious attempts at figuring out why Gass doesn t do it for me, he just doesn t for some reason One quick note though, on the back of the edition I have the copy says that the book is written in an exquisitely shaped prose that marvelously echoes the accents of regional speech I don t think he does this nor is it the point of the book The book is the creation of a mythical mid western small town in the 1890 s There are moments where he does capture what I imagine could be the backwoods speech of his characters, but much of the novel is the interior monologue of the town s preacher, which is filled with dirty limericks, sordid sexual fantasies and thoughts on cleaner subjects that feel achingly modern and not at all authentic whatever that might mean Actually, too much of what makes up these thoughts is borderline infantile and seems to me to be witty in an overly intentionally shocking way Sort of the same way that sometimes Thomas Pynchon can get when he really gets going with his songs and some of the weirder S M Nazi sections of Gravity s Rainbow I sometimes feel like authors like John Barth, the Barthelme s, and Robert Coover can get this way too, and it makes me think that it s similar to a little kid getting a kick out of saying a dirty word I picture certain readers of these books as chucking, actually guffawing to themselves while thinking something like, oh ho look at the dirty dirty thing the man in the tweed coat just wrote in this sinfully delicious piece of literature while rubbing the patches on their own tweed coat down to the threads in a paroxysm of glee I wouldn t recommend this book to anyone I know If they wanted to read this kind of literature there are people out there who I think do it better, but for those who like to punish themselves in their reading this wouldn t be the worst you could find, and there are moments of greatness here but there is also just too many parts that seem like literary masturbation


  9. says:

    If you are like me, one who loves the sounds of words, how they sing, sentences that embed in the mind with their craft, this is a book to relish Phrase after phrase to read out loud, to listen This is not completely accurate, the story spoke itself out loud to me as I read It spoke in its voice This was the voice, it seemed to me, of the work not of the author All I was required to do was read and listen Something similar generally happens but it is in the end my voice reading the work in If you are like me, one who loves the sounds of words, how they sing, sentences that embed in the mind with their craft, this is a book to relish Phrase after phrase to read out loud, to listen This is not completely accurate, the story spoke itself out loud to me as I read It spoke in its voice This was the voice, it seemed to me, of the work not of the author All I was required to do was read and listen Something similar generally happens but it is in the end my voice reading the work in my mind, the reader s voice As Omensetter s Luck progressed my voice vanished I believe I could have taken a break, gotten some popcorn and the novel s voice would have continued on without me.The artistry of this language unfurled itself against the largest rock shorn questions which could be found death, pain, resurrection, belief, veracity, history, and whether to live There are no signs announcing such is being done Even when bejeweled with the brilliance of metaphor we are too occupied living the unfolding story which is leaping and shifting through time, residing within the complexities of characters, to notice any trace.Gass s opening section, The Triumph Of Israbestis Tott, is remarkable for all that it accomplishes in inviting us into the story and foretelling what is to come Elderly, he is attending the auctioning off of Missus Lucy Pimber s possessions following her death He does not recognize those who peopled this small country town in the late 1880 s with him They are dead or ailing As one of the last survivors of the time he is left with the mantel of inscribing its history Even Israbestis can see his accounts are stories passed down by the the malleable craft of storytelling Stories change over time, bend to the flourishes of need and gratification.This story is one where a stranger comes to a town, settled in its ways so that time can be passed relatively unperturbed His easy manner, non participation in the rituals and cliches performed to establish the agreed upon blanket of security dimming their fears, results in much gossip and speculation We know about him mainly through others, about his unexplained luck, everything effortlessly working out and confounding the established beliefs and rules They do not consider the reasoned possibility that when someone goes through a lucky streak their confidence builds, they relax, and arelike to perform at a level above their normal set of skills, at least until reality sets back in As we know from our current lives, through the conversation of history over time, whether it is the growing murmurs of religion, sport, or, humanity has shown the need to make the ordinary extraordinary, to seek the miraculous and conjure the iconic It is hope that is sought throughout these words, not as a delicacy or dessert but as an earthbound need to gather what is needed to survive Since the materials left to us are words, letters ordered at discretion, the results are stories passed on into reverenced legend which builds and expands and becomes an integral part of lore The underside of this, since at some level we know stories, are simply lettered words, how they expand, and how often they divert into tributaries that seemingly are discovered at the moment of need, is doubt Doubt is what is to be snuffed out if fear is to be minimized, comfort and security maximized Yet doubt is closer to the reality that the world has to offerThis is why my favorite character was the Reverend Jethro Furber Presented as an inner volcano readying to explode in contradicting beliefs, at times paralyzing, he was for me the only character who was at least aware of the complexities of his inner contradictions and doubts While on the surface someone to scoff at, someone who suffered and may also have served as a precautionary tale, was the most courageous.In my hands I was reading a book, a story, it too made of letters and words, which for me was offering the tougher existence of facing and pursuing doubt, not counting on and settling for the vagaries of history, belief, the muteness of cliches This story in my hands was in my account an anti story It told of the possible future dangers of itself, though in its charmed fashion.What happened to the lost 5th star, then After page 150 when I was reading I was completely under the spell of the book However when I was away from the book those nasty calls back into the flatness of life I was not called back to the book That usually doesn t happen Typically I have to fend off the return to the book to get responsibilities done and out of the way At first I thought it was that the prose had become the writer s and was now too good, too polished, too smooth, a gloss with no sharp edges After a good deal of thought I realized it was a passivity which crept into the writing After finishing the novel and reading Gass s Afterword, he complains of a personal passivity I gave myself the much earned accolades for depth of insight, self enlightenment, the humility of my gifts.In the middle of the night I woke, proclaimed, Oh shit, and went back to sleep Now later in this next day I sit here with you and my laptop Not easy but I think I was wrong Being wrong happened three years ago and three years before that so I think I am establishing a pattern Gass is a much smarter guy than I will ever be, and a stellar craftsman hard to find his equal His style shift into a gradual thinning passivity was conforming the style to the growing passivity of the town s people, our ritualized and cliched characters We are forced due to the style to read and experience it as such How perceptive of me in the end to realize this I can build on it Over time create for me an icon of me It s possible to lower the frequency of my being wrong to every four years I can revere me I candamn it s easier to make an icon of someone else Besides I ve got some laundry to do Oh, and I have to find and post that missing star


  10. says:

    This book is elegant madness Beauty given meaning both because and in spite of life s brutality Chaos in 300 pages of one gorgeously rendered sentence chasing another and another and another down the spiral of ebbing sanity and diminishing credibility The Writer is God Don t you ever forget that, as this has always been the case Much in the fashion of a lonely deity or at the risk of redundancy a scientific force dividing What a Thing Is in half to create What a Thing Isn t But the Opposi This book is elegant madness Beauty given meaning both because and in spite of life s brutality Chaos in 300 pages of one gorgeously rendered sentence chasing another and another and another down the spiral of ebbing sanity and diminishing credibility The Writer is God Don t you ever forget that, as this has always been the case Much in the fashion of a lonely deity or at the risk of redundancy a scientific force dividing What a Thing Is in half to create What a Thing Isn t But the Opposing Thing Is, the Writer creates something from nothing, wringing words from a blank page, finding meaning in babbling, rambling nonsense What greater accomplishment is there to coax a stunning monument to all the stuff of life into existence on the uninvitingly barren terrain where a gaping void once stretched its unyielding maw The bulk of this novel is built on the crumbling foundation of a man who leeches off the ugliest parts of religion and his resulting slow decay, both of the mind and the soul This is also where the most stunning moments of primitive wonder transform Omensetter s Luck from a mere battle of wills, a hackneyed rehash of the ongoing confrontation of good and evil, to something much less and also much, muchthan a black and white yarn spinning in the same prescribed direction as its many tired predecessors Religion, despite its modern familiarity as a weapon of hate, a favorite manipulative tactic of politicians, a tool of regress, is ideally a mode of sympathetic understanding that relies on the belief in prevailing goodness, of doing unto others, of embracing the bigger picture benefit of turning the other cheek or biting one s tongue when plucking both eyes from the offending face would be all thethough momentarily and devastatingly gratifying It s denying the flesh to feed the soul Here, a full century before it s almost the expected perversion of a benign idea, Reverend Furber, paying no mind to the hypocrisy he wields in flagrant embrace of the deadliest sins, clings fast to the biblical literalism that only makes sense to a deranged and poisoned mind It is his stubborn refusal to see the world through the less judgmental eyes of a man not bound by dogmatic rigidness say, the sort of man who attributes the blessings of his life to sheer, dumb luck instead of self congratulatory though self defeatingly empty faith that is his fatal flaw When one s declining physical health or dissolving mental acuity reach the preset point of no return, does it become impossible to tell the dreams of the younger self from the life actually lived What happens when personal fantasies begin to outnumber actual events that were shared by many, anchoring one soul to the greater landscape of communal experience Are one s external and internal memories meant to bleed into each other to ease the inevitable transition of the experience of the conscious self back to the unconscious cycle of nature Opposing forces will always be at odds but that battle is often a stalemate in neutral There isn t always a winner in fact, in a traditional sense, there isoften two comparable losers because stasis is the natural way of things When two objects are as equally matched as they are intended to be, order is maintained and the interlocking but always warring pieces connecting that one integral duality to those upon which the rest of the A and also B world relies, the cycle of existence remains in constant, indifferent motion


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