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Eyes: Novellas and Stories
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2015
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A dazzling new collection—two novellas and four short stories from one of the most revered writers of our time, author of seven books of fiction, among them The Tunnel (“An extraordinary achievement”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post); Middle C (“Exhilaratingly ingenious”—Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review, cover); and Cartesian Sonata (“The finest prose stylist in America”—The Washington Post).
It begins with "In Camera," the first of the two novellas, and tells the story, which grows darker and dustier by the speck, of a Mr. Gab (who doesn’t have the gift) and his photography shop (in a part of town so drab even robbers wouldn’t visit), a shop stuffed with gray-white, gray-bleach photographs, each in its own cellophane sheet, loosely side-filed in cardboard boxes, tag attached . . . an inner sanctum where little happens beyond the fulsome, deep reverence for Mr. Gab’s images and vast collection, a homemade museum in the midst of the outer maelstrom . . . until a Mr. Stu (as in u-stew-pid) enters the shop, inspecting the extraordinary collection, and Mr. Gab’s treasure-filled, dust-laden, meticulously contained universe begins to implode . . .
In the story “Don’t Even Try, Sam,” the upright piano from the 1942 Warner Bros. classic Casablanca is interviewed (“I know why you want to talk to me,” the piano says. “It’s because everybody else is dead. Stars go out. Directors die. Companies fold. But some of the props get preserved. I’ve seen my friend the Vichy water bottle in the storeroom as wrapped up as the Maltese Falcon. We’d fetch a price now”) . . .
In another story, “Charity,” a young lawyer, whose business it is to keep hospital equipment honestly produced, offers a simple gift and is brought to the ambiguous heart of charity itself. In “Soliloquy for a Chair,” a folding chair does just that—talks in a barbershop that is ultimately bombed . . . and in “The Toy Chest,” Disneylike creatures take on human roles and concerns and live in an atmosphere of a child’s imagination.
An enchanting Gassian journey; a glorious fantasia; a virtuoso delight.

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Format:
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Street Date:
10/13/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781101874738
ASIN:
B00SEFGT9Y
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APA Citation (style guide)

William H. Gass. (2015). Eyes: Novellas and Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

William H. Gass. 2015. Eyes: Novellas and Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

William H. Gass, Eyes: Novellas and Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015.

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William H. Gass. Eyes: Novellas and Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        William H. Gass—essayist, novelist, literary critic—was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He is the author of seven works of fiction and nine books of essays, including Life Sentences, A Temple of Texts, and Tests of Time, and was a professor of philosophy at Washington University. He died in 2017. 

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title
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fullDescription

A dazzling new collection—two novellas and four short stories from one of the most revered writers of our time, author of seven books of fiction, among them The Tunnel (“An extraordinary achievement”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post); Middle C (“Exhilaratingly ingenious”—Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review, cover); and Cartesian Sonata (“The finest prose stylist in America”—The Washington Post).
It begins with "In Camera," the first of the two novellas, and tells the story, which grows darker and dustier by the speck, of a Mr. Gab (who doesn’t have the gift) and his photography shop (in a part of town so drab even robbers wouldn’t visit), a shop stuffed with gray-white, gray-bleach photographs, each in its own cellophane sheet, loosely side-filed in cardboard boxes, tag attached . . . an inner sanctum where little happens beyond the fulsome, deep reverence for Mr. Gab’s images and vast collection, a homemade museum in the midst of the outer maelstrom . . . until a Mr. Stu (as in u-stew-pid) enters the shop, inspecting the extraordinary collection, and Mr. Gab’s treasure-filled, dust-laden, meticulously contained universe begins to implode . . .
In the story “Don’t Even Try, Sam,” the upright piano from the 1942 Warner Bros. classic Casablanca is interviewed (“I know why you want to talk to me,” the piano says. “It’s because everybody else is dead. Stars go out. Directors die. Companies fold. But some of the props get preserved. I’ve seen my friend the Vichy water bottle in the storeroom as wrapped up as the Maltese Falcon. We’d fetch a price now”) . . .
In another story, “Charity,” a young lawyer, whose business it is to keep hospital equipment honestly produced, offers a simple gift and is brought to the ambiguous heart of charity itself. In “Soliloquy for a Chair,” a folding chair does just that—talks in a barbershop that is ultimately bombed . . . and in “The Toy Chest,” Disneylike creatures take on human roles and concerns and live in an atmosphere of a child’s imagination.
An enchanting Gassian journey; a glorious fantasia; a virtuoso delight.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content:

        Excitement about William H. Gass's EYES "Language of balletic precision . . . Readers already familiar with William H. Gass' oeuvre will find all six tales in this volume sending them back to his earlier fiction, while newcomers to the work of this American master will hasten to discover more." -- Claire Hopley, Washington Times Book Review "Enough formal inventiveness and lyrical sleights-of-hand to keep even the most seasoned Gass acolyte pleasantly off-balance . . . a wonderful entry point into the Gassian literary cosmos. In these strange, piercing stories we read of ourselves hungrily and with a growing awareness. We read for the inimitable prose style, and the brilliant narrative gambits--but we also read to see what he sees . . . Life and literature shimmer and intensify. May we all learn to see with such eyes." -- Dustin Illingwirth, Electric Lit "Gass's penchant for creating witty grouches and solipsists capable of charm can be seen, at the paragraph level, as a rebellion against the sentimentality of mainstream fiction . . . Gass is not content merely to tweak the bourgeois modern reader. On a macro level, the author's obsession with crimes against humanity has a starker (and more judgmental) political cast . . . Taken together with Middle C, the novellas in Eyes show that, for all of Gass's expertise with the tropes of his favored texts, he's still stumbling over some new accidents of beauty." -- Seth Colter Walls, The Guardian "Gass' style defies characterization, and Eyes is no exception. . . full of originality and fantasy." -- M&V Magazine "Powerful, passionate . . . Gass at his best and most mysterious . . . impressive . . . All of [the stories] are distinguished by Gass' dry wit, verbal facility and rich prose style." -- Harper Barnes, St Louis Post-Dispatch "Quietly suspenseful, emotionally lustrous . . . The literary equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting, seething, trenchant, hilarious . . . imaginative and incisive . . . Gass is a mind-bending original of phenomenal brilliance, artistry, wit, and insight." -- Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review) "[Gass is] an exquisite maker of sentences, weighing his prose like a poet for rhythm, consonance, and intellectual heft . . . excellent . . . dry but artful . . . It says something about Gass' talent and flexibility that he can write an effective story that's narrated by a barber-shop folding chair. But this is Gass' universe, and here, even folding chairs don't get off easy. Glum fun." -- Kirkus "It is evident from these tales that [Gass'] creative fount is far from dry. The book opens with two novellas, each of which coaxes sublimity out of wry, misanthropic portraits . . . acerbic and nostalgic . . . Gass proves himself a master diviner, able to tap the deepest and most mysterious reservoirs."

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        July 13, 2015
        An “eye,” the epigraph to Gass’s (Middle C) new story collection informs us, is “the point where an underground spring suddenly bursts to the surface.” It is evident from these tales that the 90-year-old’s creative fount is far from dry. The book opens with two novellas, each of which coaxes sublimity out of wry, misanthropic portraits. In the first, “In Camera,” a gruff art dealer zealously guards his invaluable photography collection from prying eyes. He is less interested in profits, or people, than luxuriating in the infinite grays of his black-and-white prints and their representation of the “world as it is rescued by the camera and redeemed.” Like his On Being Blue, the second novella, “Charity,” demonstrates Gass’s extraordinary ability to riff on the philosophical, spiritual, and earthly materializations of an idea. Here a young lawyer besieged by panhandlers, fund-raising groups, and scam artists all seeking contributions ruminates on “creation’s constant need for charity.” In a free-flowing, associative, and often ribald narrative, Gass anatomizes a cultural phenomenon that only vaguely resembles the charity St. Paul lauded in his famous epistle. The stories that follow don’t reach the same heights. Particularly belabored are two comic exercises, “Don’t Even Try, Sam,” in which a prop piano narrates its experience on the set of Casablanca, and “Soliloquy for an Empty Chair,” in which a barber shop’s folding chair divulges the secrets of its sedentary life. Much better are the previously unpublished “The Toy Chest,” alternately acerbic and nostalgic, and “The Man Who Spoke with His Hands,” which balances its whimsy with a vague sense of menace in an account of a music professor whose expressive hands have a life of their own. For most of this collection, Gass proves himself a master diviner, able to tap into the deepest and most mysterious reservoirs.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 15, 2015
        A set of stories about senses and sensory deprivation from contemporary American literature's longtime laureate of disillusionment. Gass (Middle C, 2013, etc.) has always been a love-hate proposition. He's an exquisite maker of sentences, weighing his prose like a poet for rhythm, consonance, and intellectual heft. ("Color is a lure. Color is candy....Color is oratory in the service of the wrong religion....Color is camouflage.") But his fiction is a tough sell, built as it is out of storm clouds and fury at a humanity that has forever fallen short. The two novellas that anchor this collection reveal the upsides and downsides of that approach. The excellent, punningly titled "In Camera" is set in a photography gallery whose holdings are carefully guarded by its owner and whose acquisition processes may not be strictly legal. That question gives the story its drama, but Gass is more interested in exploring the ways photographs can render (and in a way surpass) reality, closing with a dry but artful riff on Plato's "Allegory of the Cave." "Charity," a story almost entirely without paragraph breaks, explores one man's lifetime of exasperation with pleas for donations, from cookie-schlepping Girl Scouts to junk mail to telemarketers; the feeling of oppression Gass creates is palpable if static; its dour mood rarely shifts. The remaining stories are shorter (if not necessarily lighter) experiments in form and style: a story told from the perspective of the prop piano in Casablanca, another about a man who communicates solely with his hands, a man recalling his childhood in fragmented prose that evokes stray puzzle pieces. It says something about Gass' talent and flexibility that he can write an effective story that's narrated by a barber-shop folding chair. But this is Gass' universe, and here, even folding chairs don't get off easy. Glum fun.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from October 1, 2015
        Because In Camera is a novella by Gass (Middle C, 2013), a writer bewitched by the subtleties of language and the pleasures of irony, it figures that Mr. Gab, the proprietor of a dreary, dusty little shop, is reticent. And secretive, too, as his designated stupid assistant, who decidedly is not in spite of his nearly Quasimodo appearance, realizes the longer he studies Gab's astonishing collection of photographs by such masters as Eugene Atget and Alfred Stieglitz. As this quietly suspenseful, emotionally lustrous tale of obsession, loyalty, and love slowly develops, Gass' prose emulates the exquisite gray-scale nuances of the photographs his characters revere. Charity, on the other hand, is the literary equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting, a seething, trenchant, hilarious stream-of-consciousness in which a corporate lawyer ruminates with angst and fury over the paradoxes of giving and shame, ranting about sex, panhandlers, and the endless deluge of beseeching mailings from not-for-profits. Following these virtuoso novellas, jewels of perception, are four imaginative and incisive short stories, several narrated by objects with attitude, including a folding chair in a barber shop and the piano in Casablanca. Confluent with Joyce, Beckett, and Elkin, Gass is a mind-bending original of phenomenal brilliance, artistry, wit, and insight.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 15, 2015

        The two novellas in this new collection from Gass (Middle C) are "In Camera," about a shop that sells old photographs, and "Charity," the stream-of-consciousness recollections of a bitter lawyer who has been inexplicably receiving a steady flow of charity requests from strangers. The short stories include "Don't Even Try, Sam," about the filming of Casablanca from the perspective of the piano, and "Soliloquy for an Empty Chair," the most entertaining and moving piece of the compilation. Narrated by an ordinary fold-up chair, only one of seven chairs "with a sense of humor," it details how the chairs spend most of their life in a barbershop observing humans and watching the neighborhood change. "The Man Who Spoke with His Hands" centers on a music professor who believes the movements of his hands aren't controlled by him but are delivering messages from God. The last story, "The Toy Chest," is noteworthy for its rambling from the perspective of a child. VERDICT While some of the short works deserve a wider audience, this is a challenging collection that will enthrall readers of literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 5/4/15.]--Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. Lib., MD

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 1, 2015

        Literary legend Gass may be 90, but he still has it in him to produce works you can't imagine anyone else imagining. Here's the anonymous-looking piano Dooley Wilson plays in Casablanca grumbling to an interviewer that it got no respect during filming ("Don't Even Try, Sam") and a folding chair in a soon-to-be-bombed barbershop recalling its modest life. With six all-new stories and novellas; not a huge first printing but essential for readers in the know.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A dazzling new collection—two novellas and four short stories from one of the most revered writers of our time, author of seven books of fiction, among them The Tunnel (“An extraordinary achievement”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post); Middle C (“Exhilaratingly ingenious”—Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review, cover); and Cartesian Sonata (“The finest prose stylist in America”—The Washington Post).
It begins with "In Camera," the first of the two novellas, and tells the story, which grows darker and dustier by the speck, of a Mr. Gab (who doesn’t have the gift) and his photography shop (in a part of town so drab even robbers wouldn’t visit), a shop stuffed with gray-white, gray-bleach photographs, each in its own cellophane sheet, loosely side-filed in cardboard boxes, tag attached . . . an inner sanctum where little happens beyond the fulsome,...

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