In the Heart of the Heart of the Country

Overview

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country is vintage William H. Gass: two novellas and three short stories, set in the Midwest, exhibiting Gass’s characteristic and wildly original verbal brilliance and philosophical acuity. The volume includes The Pedersen Kid, a story originally published a few years before the 1965 publication of Gass’s first novel Omensetter’s Luck.

Words populate these stories, as squirming, regal, and unexpected as the roaches, boys, icicles, neighbors, ...

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In the Heart of the Heart of the Country

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Overview

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country is vintage William H. Gass: two novellas and three short stories, set in the Midwest, exhibiting Gass’s characteristic and wildly original verbal brilliance and philosophical acuity. The volume includes The Pedersen Kid, a story originally published a few years before the 1965 publication of Gass’s first novel Omensetter’s Luck.

Words populate these stories, as squirming, regal, and unexpected as the roaches, boys, icicles, neighbors, neuroses, and properties they describe. No matter how strange or estranged the human consciousness directing each symphony of words, his or her fear, delight, and disgust is uncanny and familiar.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Gass is a genuine pessimist and one of the best writers I know...this collection defines Gass not as a special but as a major voice...Gass engenders brand-new abrupt vulnerabilities. We read about the becalmed Midwest, about farmers mired in their dailiness, and realize too late that we’ve been exposed to a deadly poetry. It says that America is lost...No writer I’ve ever read, not even Joyce, can celebrate his world with a more piercing sadness.” —Frederic Morton, The New York Times
 
“The man has never written a sentence that isn’t astonishing.” —Benjamin Weissman, Salon
 
Omensetter’s Luck seemed the kind of astonishing total performance that might not lead to another book. But this new volume shows a growth and an exploration of imaginative power suggesting that Mr. Gass’s work is here to continue, as well as to stay. In the title piece, as throughout, the treatment of the relation between self and things is unique in American writing.” —John Hollander
 
“William Gass is, in his own way, quite as successful as Joyce or Faulkner.” —Shaun O’Connell, The Nation
 
“William H. Gass has recreated a mythical Midwest that overpowers all his characters and has a palpable, frightening presence...[he] makes us doubt everything in the story—Jorge, the Pedersen kid and our very existence—as he lulls us to sleep with his crisp, hallucinatory prose.” —Jerome Charyn, The Wall Street Journal
 
“[He is] one of the important writers of his generation. This collection...serves to focus the distinctive qualities of his sensibility and style...Gass is “old-fashioned” in his insistence that language is an immediate extension of human feeling and cognition. But what makes him modern is how much he knows—like John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, and Walker Percy, he is one of the philosopher-novelists who bring a new intellectual power to the basically transcendental American sensibility. It is writing like this that will achieve, if it is at all possible, a saving continuity with tradition as it attempts to save human feeling and individuality for art.” —Newsweek
 
“These stories scrape nerve and pierce the heart. They also replenish the language. They are told sparely, hauntingly, with compassion and a remarkable exploratory courage.” —The New York Times
 
“Sentences sweet as Godiva Chocolate, turns of phrase so luscious they verge on the lubricious, paragraphs one could live on—anyone who savored the prose of William Gass will remember it with pleasure or heartburn.”
—The Washington Post Book World
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590177648
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 12/9/2014
  • Series: NYRB Classics Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,455,543

Meet the Author

William H. Gass is an American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, critic, and emeritus professor of philosophy. His first novel, Omensetter’s Luck, was published in 1966 and since then he has published several more works of fiction, including The Tunnel and Middle C. He has also published collections of essays, including On Being Blue (available from NYRB Classics), Fiction and the Figures of Life, and Life Sentences, and has received many awards and honors.

Joanna Scott's forthcoming novel is De Potter's Grand Tour. Her other books include the novels Arrogance, The Manikin, Follow Me, and the collections Various Antidotes and Everybody Loves Somebody.  

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