A Book Review by
William H. Gass
The idea of wearing earrings inspires Babs in a poetic passage that anticipates the innovative fiction of the 21st Century, while most of Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife is written as a typical William H. Gass story with references to an ancient epoch of American history, a perspective that he used in Omensetter's Luck (1966) by William H. Gass, and reminds us of the Boston school of American literature with authors Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allen Poe.
Well you've always had your own wash working for you, sloshing about—an inland sea foaming up against its rocks (how grand that's put, how grand), and you don't mind it. You don't go hithering and thithering, do you?
William H. Gass
The inland seas of America were evident during the dinosaur era, and with William H. Gass the chronological time frame of the mini-novel extends back to ancient times with a continuity of love embodied in the erotic muse Babs, a woman who inspires the men to accomplish the deeds of a provider for the family.
This is called abstraction, sometimes love, and always the art of writing, whereby ideas taken like a cutpurse from the coat and trousers of particular Beings become general representatives of all of the same kind... Thus the same color being observed today in chalk or snow, which the mind yesterday received from milk, it considers the appearance alone, hard, soft, or liquid elects it a representative of all of that kind, chalkwhite, snowwhite, milkwhite white as the moon on the mail...
The typography of Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife is quite literally a vivid experience for the reader. The visual effect of the text often functions as importantly in the work as what the words connote. Gass is demonstrating and emphasizing the physical presence of language on the page.
Frontiers of Fiction:
The Theory and Practice
of William H. Gass
William Neal Ellis
The visual avant garde text Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife by Wiliam H. Gass is a classic of 1960s innovative fiction, a trend that is evolving into a more sophisticated blending of art and fiction in the 21st Century novel when graphic images can easily be included in a text with the use of Adobe software. We also see the liberation of sexuality with the celebration of eroticism in a theoretical fiction that uses erotic images to enhance the pleasure of the text. Innovative erotica that uses photography and typographic design has become the semiotic mini-novel which places Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife (1968) by William H. Gass at the forefront of the innovative graphic novel.
David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. He is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He edits Innovative Fiction Magazine and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations.