It’s a scandalous to admit and weird to think that it has only been roughly a year since I first discovered how much I adore the fiction of William H. Gass. A glance through the archives of AUFS will show a solitary, fairly short post written about his first novel, Omensetter’s Luck, which doesn’t nearly do adequate justice to the impact his writing has had on me the past year. Friends will testify to the incessant emails and IMs sent to them whose only content, without benefit or hindrance of context or commentary, is a quote of his, sometimes just a phrase, that for one reason or a million pricked my ear. Gass is famous for doing a lot of “pomo” gestures in his writing, especially with regard to the visual elements of the page–how text is laid out, erratic font changes, etc.–but for me, the visual element is subordinate to the aural. His prose has a musical quality to it that I’m not entirely sure I have the tools adequately to describe.
Tonight I finally got around to finishing his short story collection In the Heart of the Heart of the Country. At some point, I may get around to writing something about the collection. (Or perhaps if one or two of you are interested, we might set up a format by which we can discuss the stories for all the blogosphere to see.) For now, though, I thought I might share a bit of this aural element as a kind of experiment: to see, that is, if it translates, or if it is “just me.” Upon reading for the first time this passage from the collection’s title essay, in a section labelled, “Household Apples,” I immediately raced to the living room, muted the television, and begged my wife to listen as I read it a second. Still wishing to read it again, a third time, I scrambled for the phone so that I might this time record myself. This is all quite self-indulgent, I know, pretentious even, but so be it. I delight in the fact that the reading below, effectively the fourth of the evening, this time might be for you. [Here’s a MP3 if for some reason you’d prefer a download.]