Archetypes: William H. Gass

 In Culture, Interviews

Revered novelist, essayist and philosopher William H. Gass shares his thoughts on the current state of the world, the importance of art and being ordinary.


What is your current mood or state of mind?
Depressed. The world is a very depressing place right now.

What makes you happy?
Good prose.

What is your idea of misery?
Working and working and not getting anything right.

What did you eat for breakfast today?
A bowl of fresh fruit (6 or 7 different kinds), bagel with cream cheese and black coffee.

Whats one word that describes you?

What trait do you value most in others?
Quick mind. I know it should be good character or something, but if we didnt sin, wed kill ourselves.

Whats your favorite occupation?
Writing beautifully about nasty things.

Whats your favorite color?
Blue. Not the color, the concept.

What is your favorite food?
Whatever we are having tonight. Among many other things, my wife is a marvelous cook.

What food do you like the least?
Beets. Even though I am against people who dont like things, there is just something about the smell of beets I cant stand.

If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive), who would that be?

What vice do you most tolerate in others?

What talent do you wish you had?

What excites you?
Art. All kinds. I often display this by jumping up and down.

What do you consider a turn off?
Willful stupidity.

What do you love?
Aside from people, art, of course.

What do you hate?
I used to think I hated everything but I never really did; my hatred is only intellectual.

What are you most looking forward to?
Future work.

What is one thing you wish would happen?
Wishing is a waste of time. You have to will things to happen.

What is something you would will to happen?
World peace, of course.

Whats something interesting that you just learned?
The writer Rikki Ducomet sent me the Maya nalphabet with a part of an image translated.

Whats something you want to learn?
Its a little late for most things.

What is your personal motto?
Beginning is difficult, but practice makes the master.

In another life, youd be:
There isnt any other life, but Im sure if there were, I would be a surprise to myself.

What is your current obsession?
You cant have a current obsession. If it hasnt been around for years it isnt an obsession.

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What do you want to do before you die?
Its always for me to finish my current books but there are always more coming along.

Personal hero:
If you find that your hero doesnt have clay feet, then theyll have clay elbows. I dont have a personal hero, but I find heroic qualities in women like Gertrude Stein.

If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what would you say?
Get older. Youth is wasted on the young.


1286_501.jpgWilliam H. Gass


Photo credit: Photo by Wesley Law

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