Literary Birthday – 30 July – William H. Gass

William H. Gass was born 30 July 1924 and died 7 December 2017.


  1. Getting even is one reason for writing.
  2. Sports, politics, and religion are the three passions of the badly educated.
  3. For me, the short story is not a character sketch, a mouse trap, an epiphany, a slice of suburban life. It is the flowering of a symbol centre. It is a poem grafted onto sturdier stock.
  4. The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.
  5. Of course there is enough to stir our wonder anywhere; there’s enough to love, anywhere, if one is strong enough, if one is diligent enough, if one is perceptive, patient, kind enough — whatever it takes.
  6. I write because I hate. A lot. Hard.
  7. For the speedy reader paragraphs become a country the eye flies over looking for landmarks, reference points, airports, restrooms, passages of sex.
  8. It’s not the word made flesh we want in writing, in poetry and fiction, but the flesh made word.
  9. A cause is a lie with a fan club.
  10. In general, I would think that at present prose writers are much in advance of the poets. In the old days, I read more poetry than prose, but now it is in prose where you find things being put together well, where there is great ambition, and equal talent. Poets have gotten so careless, it is a disgrace. You can’t pick up a page. All the words slide off.

William H. Gass was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and critic. He won three National Book Critics Circle Award prizes and the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. He received the American Book Award for his 1995 novel, The Tunnel.

Source for Image: By David Shankbone – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 30th July 2014