“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.”
“Grief doesn’t only disturb life; it disturbs the way we talk about life. As myriad aspects of our existence are questioned and reexamined in the wake of a death, so too is our relationship with the language we rely on for our grief’s expression.” This track-by-track take on Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell from The Rumpus is really just a magnificent, emotive piece on elegy.
Downton Abbey, meet Arrested Development: Arrested Downton. Speaking of the stunningly popular Downton, The Missouri Review is having a “non-contest;” enter by channeling the voice of your favorite author to describe the world of the show. Our own Garth Risk Halberg might be able to help you out, with his essay on Downton‘s literary pedigree.
“Legal writing, save for the prose of a precious few lawyers and judges, has rarely contributed to the literary enterprise. Yet there are times when legal proceedings have helped the public at large to reconsider the experience of reading in commercial, emotional, and intellectual terms.” Ian Crouch on the odd experience of reading the statements of Lance Armstrong.