In the words of the late Walker Percy, William Gass is a “totally committed, totally uncompromising, and extraordinarily gifted writer.” His latest work is a suite of four novellas that explore Mind, Matter, and God. In the title story, God is a writer in a constant state of fumble, Mind is a housewife cum modern-day Cassandra, and Matter is — who else? — the helpless and confused husband of Mind. In “Bed and Breakfast,” the concept of salvation is explored through material possessions — a collection of kitsch — as a traveling businessman is slowly swamped by the sheer surfeit of matter in a small Illinois town. In “Emma Enters a Sentence of Elizabeth Bishop’s,” a young woman growing up in rural Iowa finds herself losing touch with the physical world as she loses herself in the work of her favorite poet. And in “The Master of Secret Revenges,” God appears in the form of a demon to a young man named Luther, whose progress from devilish youth to satanic manhood is recounted with relish and horror. A profound exploration of good and evil, philosophy and action, marked by the wit and style that has always defined the work of William Gass.
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