The Tunnel

The Tunnel

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by William H. Gass, Gass William H.
     
 

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"Gass has produced a book that burrows inside us then wails like a beast, a book that mainlines a century's terror direct to the brain."—Voice Literary SupplementSee more details below

Overview

"Gass has produced a book that burrows inside us then wails like a beast, a book that mainlines a century's terror direct to the brain."—Voice Literary Supplement

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This long-awaited magnum opus by the dean of American prose modernists, 30 years in the making, is a terrible disappointment. In this endless ramble of a novel, Gass (Omensetter's Luck; In the Heart of the Heart of the Country), though here, as always, possessed of a bewitching and spectacularly fluid and allusive style, fails to find a suitable home for his narrator's wickedly dyspeptic views of history, marriage and culture. William Kohler is a Midwestern academic historian working on an introduction to his life's work-a massive study of ``guilt and innocence in Hitler's Germany.'' This, however, and the fact that Kohler begins to secretly dig a tunnel out of his basement, are the only shards of plot in this otherwise formless book. Gass, as readers of his fiction and gorgeous literary essays will know (On Being Blue), can turn a phrase and render lyrical descriptions that have not only music to them, but also shape and weight. But in portraying the failed career and life of Kohler, these gifts are brought to bear on such a litany of sour rant-about his aging body, his wife's widening girth, the fatuous enthusiasms of his colleagues and mentors-that the reader will beg for a way out of this dark and airless space. Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of The Tunnel, and the promise of a new perspective on our century's most heinous crime-the Holocaust-is very much a forgotten vow. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Here, Gass presents William Kohler, a professor of history who sits in his basement study trying to write a preface to his monumental work, Guilt and Innocence in Hitler's Germany, but instead finds himself writing his autobiography. Historical objectivity eludes him, as old wounds and resentments obscure the facts. He broods over an unhappy childhood and a loveless marriage and regrets "a life spent in a chair." The result is a sort of Mein Kampf from this self-described Fhrer of the Party of Disappointed People. Between chapters, Kohler pauses to dig an escape tunnel through the basement wall as his wife waits patiently upstairs. Like Gass's best-known metafictional work, Willie Master's Lonesome Wife (LJ 12/1/71), this book is filled with puns, limericks, illustrations, and unusual typefaces. In marked contrast to the earlier work, this playful design seems completely at odds with the ponderous text. For larger fiction collections.-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
From the Publisher

"Gass has produced a book that burrows inside us then wails like a beast, a book that mainlines a century's terror direct to the brain."-Voice Literary Supplement

Dalkey Archive Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564782137
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
04/28/1999
Series:
American Literature Series
Edition description:
2nd Edition
Pages:
672
Sales rank:
380,978
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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