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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

William Gass -- Fiction, Critic

Host(s): Stan Sanvel Rubin

Tape order number: C-50

Visit Date: November 15, 1977

Length: 49 minutes

Brief Summary: Gass compares fiction to music and poetry, and says that he orchestrates his prose to carry emotions. He sees the real world existing primarily as a source for data; language is what is most important--experience is an excuse for words. Gass says that fiction needs to break from the forms it currently uses and find its own forms. He talks about the importance of sound in his writing: he reads aloud and stops revising when it sounds right, regardless of grammatical rules. Gass also discusses his early struggles as a writer.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • "Icicles"
  • "The Pedersen Kid"
  • "Willie Master's Lonesome Wife"
  • "On Being Blue"
  • "Ferber"
  • The Tunnel

Work(s) Read:

  • Two sections of "Weather" from In the Heart of the Heart of the Country.

Writers mentioned:

  • J. Joyce
  • S. Elkins
  • T.S. Eliot.

Ninety percent of the things that go into a page of my writing come not from my experience of the world, but my experience of language in connection with the world--juxtaposed.

-- William Gass

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