“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
“You could call Zero K a grand summation of DeLillo’s career themes and prose stylings. You could also call it recycling.” Tony Tulathimutte reviews Don DeLillo’s “techno-prophetic novel,” Zero K. To revisit DeLillo’s prior work, check out David Rice’s review of The Angel Esmeralda.
Twenty-five years ago this month, Mary Gaitskill published Bad Behavior, a story collection so accomplished that even Michiko Kakutani thought the book had “radar-perfect detail.” Now, to commemorate the anniversary, The Slant interviews Gaitskill, who discusses her debut and the effect of porn on our culture. (In case you didn’t know, a story in Bad Behavior inspired the movie Secretary.)
“Even after I realize that we are being robbed, that bullets can shatter glass, that being locked in is no help in this situation, I still feel a vague resentment at having to hand the laptop over. It’s mine. It contains my work, a week of writing, a month or more of photography, personal information. I have hesitated only a few seconds but feel as though I have just woken from a trance: briefly, I imagined myself with a bullet in my thigh, imagined myself bleeding out in traffic in Ojota.” At Granta, Teju Cole writes about living in Lagos.