Jan 132013

Here’s an interview I did with William H. Gass shortly after the publication of his immense & controversial novel The Tunnel in 1995. As with some earlier interviews I have posted here, this comes from a box of tapes in my basement, dating from a time when I did a weekly radio interview show. I had a lot of fun with this interview, partly because some heavy-hitting critics just tore the novel apart (I loved especially the ones who said it wasn’t a novel at all), and partly because Gass is a philosopher (a field of interest we share) and the book is dense with thought, history and wit. We cover the ground. We firmly place the novel in a tradition (when the critics mostly scratched their heads and said it didn’t fit anywhere), we talk about Nietzschean ressentiment, the spirit of the age (think: the Tea Party), about aphorisms and the form of the limerick (and the political implications thereof), and we talk about the vast comedy of the novel which critics also largely failed to notice.

I think these sound files should be listenable (is that a word?). They are reproduced from old tapes stored in a box for years and transferred to digital media with my usual haphazard, seat-of-the-pants approach to technology. Some people have complained (in regard to earlier interviews) that the sound stopped and then continued a lot. My sense is that this is just your computer loading the file from the Internet and is not a problem with the file itself. I also checked and this sound player works fine with Ipads.

Douglas Glover



See also my interviews with John Hawkes and Gordon Lish.



  4 Responses to “Limericks, Degraded Modernism and The Tunnel: DG Interview with William H. Gass”

  1. Audio quality is fine. As a long-time fan of William Gass I was delighted to hear his voice and his comments on The Tunnel, which I haven’t read. I used his lovely child’s voice discourse on storytelling (“Tell us a story, paw-paw” published as an introduction to some editions of In the Heart of the Heart of the Country) as a thread through the critical essay I wrote for my MFA at VCFA, later published in Writer’s Chronicle as “What a Story Is About When It’s About a Story.” And long before that I made a dance from Gass’s story, “Order of Insects.” Sorry I never met the man.

  2. Excellent interview. Thanks for posting this. I’m the curator of modern literature collection at Washington University who is preparing for a Gass exhibition, reading (from his new novel coming out next month) and digital exhibit this spring, so any and all info I get on the man and his work is much appreciated!

  3. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the podcast I just posted with Greg Gerke, who interviewed Mr. Gass for the winter 2012 edition of Tin House: http://chimeraobscura.com/vm/podcast-sound-before-story (you can find past episodes and upcoming guests on the archive page)

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