[Read online Omensetter's Luck] eBook BY William H. Gass

William H. Gass Í 6 read

Omensetter's Luck

Ary man Set in a small Ohio town in the 1890s it chronicles through the voices of various participants and observers the confrontation between Brackett Omensetter a man of preternatural goodness and the Reveren. I Know Not WhenceNor Whither Willy Nilly BlowingWilliam H Gass positions words on the page one after the other Soon a sentence takes shape then a paragraph then a chapter then a section then a novel in its entiretyThe words are not necessarily directional from the outset A sentence goes in the direction dictated by each additional word They don t necessarily follow a preordained seuence or work towards a goal I know not whence like water willy nilly flowing Nor whither willy nilly blowing Rub iy t of Omar Khayy mLike Omensetter Gass our very own Willy Nilly is prepared to try his luck tempt fate go with the flow see what happensThe Moving Finger Writes and Having Writ Moves OnThere is no necessary plot as such The novel emerges from the natural flow You do not tell a story your fiction will do that when your fiction is finished Gass is the vehicle for these words to get onto the page His is the hand that moves or the finger that writes The Moving Finger writes and having writMoves on Rub iy t of Omar Khayy mHis words are poetry They are made to be spoken to feel your tongue and lips and teeth move around them they are made to be heard even if you only listen to your own voice whether inwardly in the imagination or outwardly alive and aloud The Movement of LanguageGass is interested in the movement of language as well as the language of movementThese words sound they move around they jostle for favour Together they constitute or compose music What you make is music and because your sounds are carriers of concepts you make conceptual music too Having achieved their task the words move to the back unchanged permanent irrevocable Nor all thy Piety nor WitShall lure it back to cancel half a LineNor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it Rub iy t of Omar Khayy mThe words are passed gone irrecoverable at least until in the manner of Proust they insinuate their way into the memory of the reader and insist on being recalledOnly in the uniue case of Omensetter s Luck this is not strictly correct Gass initial draft of the novel was stolen and he had to reconstruct it from memory Ironically he felt it improved in the processStill Omensetter s Luck is for me an example of what Gass said about Italo Calvino s Invisible Cities it is one of the purer works of the imagination It is prose elevated to poetry without the least sign of strain Omensetter and His LuckWhile the novel is named after Omensetter or at least his luck I wouldn t say that he is the chief protagonistHe is a relative innocent an ing nue a na f almost a simpleton someone who is content to see what fortune has in store for him In the words of Israbestis Tott town gossip when he arrived He had everything he owned piled up in the wagon with this cradle tied to the top of it and nothing covered That was the kind of fellow Brackett Omenstter was He knew it wasn t going to rain again He counted on his luckHe is passive rather than active he is not an agent who dictates the direction of his own life or that of his family He declines to rescue a fox that is trapped in a well he fails to obtain medical assistance for his own sick baby If either were to die he would justify it as God s will The Sky Rolls Impotently On As Thou or IRub iy t of Omar Khayy mIn a way he succumbs to determinism He bears no burden of decision or responsibility His plight his blessing and his curse is to lose the heaviness of lifeThis approach to life might be understandable if you only have to deal with nature Perhaps we are powerless in its path The problems start when you join a community or broader societyThe Love and Sorrows of Henry PimberHenry Pimber who soon becomes Omensetter s landlord thinks he is a foolish dirty careless manYet others describe him as a natural born politician he s what they call the magnetic kind Their faith is borne out when Omensetter apparently heals an affliction that Henry suffers metaphorically like the fox Pimber s down our well after which Henry s own salvation was the central thingThis salvation implicitly challenges the authority of the local Doctor Orcutt and the faith in and of Reverend Jethro FurberThe Reverend Jethro Furber s Change of HeartGass devotes three uarters of his novel to Furber the real protagonist despicable as he is He is trained in rhetoric and has the town under his control until Omensetter s arrival Gass uses a stream of consciousness techniue to show us what is really happening in the mind of this man of the cloth He is both lascivious and lyrical in an almost Old Testament fashion shaping his lips for strong sounds He obsesses about the glabrous cleft of a young girl s private parts and the lower lips of fatty Ruth Espying an older woman with large breasts he imagines himself partaking in a tipple from her mountainous nipple Yet he sits in judgement as God s proxy over the lewd speech and slovenly habits of the townfolk preaching against frivolity with heat He counsels the congregation against indecent prepositions all the time contemplating indecent propositions It seems as if Furber is the most vulnerable to the way of all fleshGass signals that Furber might undergo a change of heart with the title to this section I won t discuss whether or how this occurs The plot detail is not important but it is desirable that readers experience how he uses language to achieve what little overt plot he utilises to serve his literary purposeThese Are a Few of My Favourite ThingsIt remains to let you sample Gass writing Below are some examples of his prose that I have arbitrarily chosen and versifiedI hope you can sense and enjoy the movement of language Every bush would blossomEach twig sharply thrownAnd every paltry post embarkFor consciousness as hugeWell the rose is too commonAnd the phallus too foolishThere was hair and nose and napkin clothAnd painted trim along the stairShe was like an after image stillA scar of lightA sailor s deep tattooHow could man begetUnless his flesh would riseAnd what was there in innocenceTo move the simplest muscleIn a gesture of desireHe s a bit betterAnd a bit luckierMaybeThan most of usThey would wallow safelyIn the worst sensationsConceive the most obscene devicesPlace him their preacherIn vulgar posturesRavish him on ornate altarsOr on the floors of pewsThe penis in reposeProfessorWith that little hat of skinWhy it s a lovely childlike thingAnd each man s gentle babyhood Is in itHe had fathered every folly every sinNo goat knew gluttony like thisNo cat had felt his prideNo crow his avariceNote how sweetlyI pronounce herMusically wigwagMy ringalingling tongueYou may call our soul our bestBut this our body is our love

free read Omensetter's Luck

Greeted as a masterpiece when it was first published in 1966 Omensetter's Luck is the uirky impressionistic and breathtakingly original story of an ordinary community galvanized by the presence of an extraordin. when I was a little boy and learning letters A B C love was never taught to me I couldn t spell it the O was always missing or the V so I wrote love like live or lure or late or law or liar Omensetter s Luck is an ode to words While in most of the fiction writing the characters the plot the beginning the middle the end all gives rise to the words it s the other way round in case of this book and William Howard Gass is a wordsmith and a tough task master It s a complex novel to begin with and the uestion what the hell is going on becomes one repetitive voice in the head of a reader The re reading of various passages is inevitable their understanding however is uestionable Therefore this book demands an attentive reading wherein it s advisable not to overlook even a single punctuation markDivided into 3 parts the first part The Triumph of Israbestis Tott deals with Israbestis tott the gossiper of the town whose sole pleasure in his old age is to tell the stories and his fixation with finding the listeners for his stories I know these stories Most of them are mine my mouth gave each of them its shape but I ve no teeth to chew my long sweet youth againAre those stories reliable is a different uestion altogether This part mainly works as a preface to the rest of the book with introducing us to various characters with a blurred outline of their livesThe second part The Love and Sorrow of Henry Pimber marks the introduction of Brackett Wide and Happy Omensetter and his arrival along with his family in Gilean Ohio How the relationship of Henry and Brackett unfolds beyond the limits of tenant landlord standards for better or for worse is depicted here The luck in Omensetter s Luck is also highlighted in a incisive way in this section which gives us an idea as to how it affected lives of both Omensetter and the other town folks especially that of Henry The third and final part The Reverend Jethro Furber s Change of Heart is the longest and the most difficult portion of the book Furber is a town Preacher and one deranged despicable and dirrrty old man God I m Don t say old though it smacks of affection See With stream of consciousness narrative mode and with little or no bifurcation between dialogue and thoughts it renders the reading frustrating The key is to read slowly and accept the fact that not everything is meant to be understood but simply to enjoy like someone said in this book The words are high and fine beyond my understanding but I like their sound Furber is a strong literary character and the star of this book His mind is his abode and he feeds upon his words He breaks into rhymes without any reason makes various biblical references in a metaphorical fashion and grows repulsive of Omensetter and his inhuman ways He devises various lies against him but eventually he experience a change of heart This section provides us a brilliant insight into Gass s ingenious talent with his words and also the extent of his philosophical knowledge So where s Omensetter in all this He s mostly in thoughts of other characters and less in action He s the talk of the town but hardly participates in speech himself Or in the words of Gass he is basically a person without language He is a wall everybody bounces a ball off And what about this luck of his This book is basically symbolic of Adam and Eve s myth and how the knowledge of Brackett about his luck resulted in his fall If Brackett Omensetter had ever had the secret of how to live he hadn t known it Now the difference was he knew Everyone at last had managed to tell him and now like everybody else he was wondering what it was Omensetter is reckless and simply live his life He never bothers to stop and observe his life and that what makes everything lucky for him He stored his pay in a sock which hung from his bench went about oblivious of either time or weather habitually permitted things which he d collected like a schoolboy to slip through holes in his trousers He kept worms under saucers stones in cans poked the dirt all the time with twigs and fed suirrels navy beans and sometimes noodles from his hands Broken tools bemused him he often ate lunch with his eyes shut and needless to say he laughed a lot He let his hair grow he only intermittently shaved who knew if he washed and when he went to pee he simply let his pants drop And maybe that s how it is When a human is free from all the human ways free from any examination or judgment is when one can find paradise on earth else it s always a living hell A message which needs reminding again and again and when it s communicated through the magical words within the magical sentences Gass forms we better learn it Everyone should read Gass that s all I want to convey in a nutshell

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D Jethro Furber a preacher crazed with a propensity for violent thoughts Omensetter's Luck meticulously brings to life a specific time and place as it illuminates timeless uestions about life love good and evil. If you are like me one who loves the sounds of words how they sing sentences that embed in the mind with their craft this is a book to relish Phrase after phrase to read out loud to listen This is not completely accurate the story spoke itself out loud to me as I read It spoke in its voice This was the voice it seemed to me of the work not of the author All I was reuired to do was read and listen Something similar generally happens but it is in the end my voice reading the work in my mind the reader s voice As Omensetter s Luck progressed my voice vanished I believe I could have taken a break gotten some popcorn and the novel s voice would have continued on without meThe artistry of this language unfurled itself against the largest rock shorn uestions which could be found death pain resurrection belief veracity history and whether to live There are no signs announcing such is being done Even when bejeweled with the brilliance of metaphor we are too occupied living the unfolding story which is leaping and shifting through time residing within the complexities of characters to notice any traceGass s opening section The Triumph Of Israbestis Tott is remarkable for all that it accomplishes in inviting us into the story and foretelling what is to come Elderly he is attending the auctioning off of Missus Lucy Pimber s possessions following her death He does not recognize those who peopled this small country town in the late 1880 s with him They are dead or ailing As one of the last survivors of the time he is left with the mantel of inscribing its history Even Israbestis can see his accounts are stories passed down by the the malleable craft of storytelling Stories change over time bend to the flourishes of need and gratificationThis story is one where a stranger comes to a town settled in its ways so that time can be passed relatively unperturbed His easy manner non participation in the rituals and cliches performed to establish the agreed upon blanket of security dimming their fears results in much gossip and speculation We know about him mainly through others about his unexplained luck everything effortlessly working out and confounding the established beliefs and rules They do not consider the reasoned possibility that when someone goes through a lucky streak their confidence builds they relax and are like to perform at a level above their normal set of skills at least until reality sets back in As we know from our current lives through the conversation of history over time whether it is the growing murmurs of religion sport or humanity has shown the need to make the ordinary extraordinary to seek the miraculous and conjure the iconic It is hope that is sought throughout these words not as a delicacy or dessert but as an earthbound need to gather what is needed to survive Since the materials left to us are words letters ordered at discretion the results are stories passed on into reverenced legend which builds and expands and becomes an integral part of lore The underside of this since at some level we know stories are simply lettered words how they expand and how often they divert into tributaries that seemingly are discovered at the moment of need is doubt Doubt is what is to be snuffed out if fear is to be minimized comfort and security maximized Yet doubt is closer to the reality that the world has to offerThis is why my favorite character was the Reverend Jethro Furber Presented as an inner volcano readying to explode in contradicting beliefs at times paralyzing he was for me the only character who was at least aware of the complexities of his inner contradictions and doubts While on the surface someone to scoff at someone who suffered and may also have served as a precautionary tale was the most courageousIn my hands I was reading a book a story it too made of letters and words which for me was offering the tougher existence of facing and pursuing doubt not counting on and settling for the vagaries of history belief the muteness of cliches This story in my hands was in my account an anti story It told of the possible future dangers of itself though in its charmed fashionWhat happened to the lost 5th star then After page 150 when I was reading I was completely under the spell of the book However when I was away from the book those nasty calls back into the flatness of life I was not called back to the book That usually doesn t happen Typically I have to fend off the return to the book to get responsibilities done and out of the way At first I thought it was that the prose had become the writer s and was now too good too polished too smooth a gloss with no sharp edges After a good deal of thought I realized it was a passivity which crept into the writing After finishing the novel and reading Gass s Afterword he complains of a personal passivity I gave myself the much earned accolades for depth of insight self enlightenment the humility of my giftsIn the middle of the night I woke proclaimed Oh shit and went back to sleep Now later in this next day I sit here with you and my laptop Not easy but I think I was wrong Being wrong happened three years ago and three years before that so I think I am establishing a pattern Gass is a much smarter guy than I will ever be and a stellar craftsman hard to find his eual His style shift into a gradual thinning passivity was conforming the style to the growing passivity of the town s people our ritualized and cliched characters We are forced due to the style to read and experience it as such How perceptive of me in the end to realize this I can build on it Over time create for me an icon of me It s possible to lower the freuency of my being wrong to every four years I can revere me I candamn it s easier to make an icon of someone else Besides I ve got some laundry to do Oh and I have to find and post that missing star


About the Author: William H. Gass

William Howard Gass was an American novelist short story writer essayist critic and former philosophy professorGass was born in Fargo North Dakota Soon after his birth his family moved to Warren Ohio where he attended local schools He has described his childhood as an unhappy one with an abusive racist father and a passive alcoholic mother; critics would later cite his characters as



10 thoughts on “Omensetter's Luck

  1. says:

    Words were superior; they maintained a superior control; they touched without your touching; they were at once the bait the hook the line the pole and the water in betweenI’ve always admired the craftsmanship that goes into building a piece of fine furniture or sewing a handmade garment or painstakingly painting a pie

  2. says:

    Israbestis Tott is like a well full to the brim with stories He draws up stories daily hourly first lines spilling from his lips by the minute In the mornings Matt was like a bell Omensetter was a wide and happy man Furber never listened He declaimed Henry Pimber lay with lockjaw in his bedThere is the story of Kick’s ca

  3. says:

    when I was a little boy and learning letters — A B C love was never taught to me I couldn't spell it the O was always missing or the V so I wrote love like live or lure or late or law or liar Omensetter’s Luck is an ode to words While in most of the fiction writing the characters the plot the beginning the middle the end all gives rise to the words it’s the other way round in case of this book and Willia

  4. says:

    A wonderful postmodern novel set in Gilean Ohio in the 1890s Brackett Omensetter arrives in the town with his family He appears to be

  5. says:

    In his afterword Gass kibitzes about the strange route to finally scorch Omensetter’s Luck into print His origin

  6. says:

    I Know Not WhenceNor Whither Willy Nilly BlowingWilliam H Gass positions words on the page one after the other Soon a sentence takes shape then a paragraph then a chapter then a section then a novel in its entiretyThe words are not necessari

  7. says:

    Word word what is a wordCan it be seen can it be hearddown with the fish up with the birdfloating obscene flying absurd? A word is a word is a word Gertrude Stein Obscene A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is li

  8. says:

    According to some interviews and things like that Omensetter's Luck was DFW's favorite books My own track record with reading DFW recommended books is hit and miss sometimes they seem to work out and other times as in the case of a Curtis White

  9. says:

    If you are like me one who loves the sounds of words how they sing sentences that embed in the mind with their craft this is a book to relish Phrase after phrase to read out loud to listen This is not completely accurate the story spoke itse

  10. says:

    This book is elegant madness Beauty given meaning both because and in spite of life's brutality Chaos in 300 pages of one gorgeously rendered sentence chasing another and another and another down the spiral of ebbing sanity and diminishing credibility The Writer is God Don't you ever forget that as this has always been t

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