“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.”
“This test protocol was designed so X-ray operators could have a clearer view of carry-on baggage at checkpoints. Like many tests TSA performs at checkpoints around the country, we collected valuable data but, at this time, are no longer testing or instituting these procedures.” Inside Higher Ed reports that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has abandoned a program that required passengers to remove books from their carry-on luggage during security screenings. And we have just the reading recommendations for flying for you, too.
“The voices you hear when you sit down to write lead you to believe that you’re a character in the novel you’re writing even though metafiction hasn’t been invented yet.” If this applies to you, you might be in a Muriel Spark novel according to Maud Newton’s article at The Toast. We aren’t surprised that Newton wrote this because Spark made her 2010 Year in Reading post.
Jonathan Franzen spent the first half of his life thinking about literature, now he plans to devote the other half to birds. It looks like Freedom is becoming reality as he puts on his bird-watching binoculars again to discuss the “appalling” songbird hunting in the Mediterranean for National Geographic.