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Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife (American Literature Series) Paperback – April 5, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The lonesome wife is, plainly, poetry lonesome for the poet: if she is truly courted and loved, instead of insultingly 'had,' she will respond accordingly and save the language." --Nathaniel Tarn, New York Times



"A physically exciting literary text." --Larry McCaffery

About the Author

William H. Gass is the author of four novels-- Omensetter's Luck, Willie Masters' Lonely Wife, The Tunnel, and Middle C--as well as two volumes of short stories and eight collections of essays. Gass was a professor of philosophy at Washington University from 1966-2000, and Director of the International Writers Center from 1990 until 2000. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the Pen-Nabokov Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and National Book Critics Circle Awards for Criticism in 1985, 1996, and 2003, among others.

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Product Details

  • Series: American Literature Series
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Available again edition (April 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564782123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564782120
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife is a short piece of experimental fiction metaphorically representing Language's plaintive cry to the reader not to be ignored, taken for granted, or under-appreciated.

There are multiple narrations, often parallel on the same page and set apart by typography, some fragmentary, and in various voices. The principal, and only identified, narrator is Babs Masters, a former stripper, Vaudeville actress, perhaps prostitute, and now the neglected wife of Willie Masters. Through typographic gimmicks and other devices (including photographs such as the one on the cover) this novel throws itself upon the reader's attention the way the stripper bares herself to the audience, but to what end?

"These words are all I am. Believe me. Pity me. Not even the Dane is any more than that. Oh, I'm the girl upon this couch, all right, you needn't fear; the one who's waltzed you through these pages, clothed and bare, who's hated you for her humiliations, sought your love, just as the striptease dancer does, soliciting male eyes for cash and feeling the light against her like a swelling organ. Could you love me? Love me then . . . then love me . . . Yes. I can't command it. Yet I should love, if ever you would let me, like a laser burning through all foolish ceremonials of modesty and custom, cutting pieties of price and parentage, inheritance and privilege, away like stale sweet cake to sick a dog. My dears, my dears . . . how I would brood upon you: you, the world; and I, the language."

This is a very interesting work, more of a prose poem than a novel, that readers who like metafiction or experimental fiction will probably enjoy as I did.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roy Clark on June 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Poetic prose like that is no surprise from Gass. But somehow every page comes with surprises, sudden shifts, silly stuff and occasionally, some
twisting tickles or cutitudenous insight (well, more like a peek now and then when you don't expect it.

"(Go to a movie.) Forward and back, in and out, up and down," we skip a

b O u
T. And like that, there: in fancy frenetics.

At worst, silly.

At best, an amusing divertissement,
but only for hard-core Gass fans.
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10 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book changed the way I look at a coffee table. It changed the way I look at fonts. It must be read, browsed and left out for others to browse. Leave it in the bathroom and see what happens. You will learn much about your guests as they sit on the pot
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