“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.”
"An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. 'It’s too big,' I told them." This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein was interviewed for Days of Yore. Topics include: the “perverse power” of editing your parents’ work; his rise through the ranks of NYC publishing; and the new story collection, Object Lessons. Elsewhere you can check out his “five favorite short story collections.” And, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our own Bill Morris’s interview with Paris Review deputy editor Sadie Stein (no relation) about the Object Lessons collection as well.
Some amateur biologists are at work replacing lamps with bio-luminescent trees and flowers, reports Andrew Pollack for The New York Times. Meanwhile South Korean scientists have barking up an entirely different tree for the past two years. (I’m sorry for the pun; here’s an image of a glowing beagle to make amends.)
Recommended Reading: From The New Yorker, it's Tessa Hadley on fiction as anthropology: "When I’m writing a story, its world is thin, unsatisfactory, untrue, until I start to find my way to those details, those 'small cultural signifiers.' As these accumulate on the page, the life in the piece thickens, the details breed, and the story begins to stir."
Looking to be a Content Generator for a Major Internet Website? Look no further than this piece from McSweeney's: "We pay $15 per piece of content, whether it be a well-cited, thoroughly researched 5,000-word essay or ten captions under fair-use photos, so, y’know, more bang for your buck with the photos. Also no one reads essays, so win-win."