Monday, April 11, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Reading Life, excerpt six)

from My Reading Life by Pat Conroy:

In the first session that afternoon, I was part of a short-story workshop taught by the intimidating William Gass, whose book Omensetter’s Luck I had read in anticipation of his class. He had great bravura and showmanship, but he carried an intellectual freight that seemed to interfere with both his writing and his teaching. He intimidated his class with the brutish authority of his intellect. Ideas seemed to excite him more than his own writing did, and certainly the writing samples the class had given him. He carried more poisonous quills in his vocabulary than a porcupine did on his back, and his assessments were often cruel, even if just. He was neither wishy-washy nor mealy-mouthed, and you could feel the grand deflation in the room as wounded egos began to die. In a final tally, I thought Gass had a grand intellect, but a shoddy heart. At the end of his session, he clashed with a young woman who had written a short story about her lesbian lover. She fought back with much gusto when Gass accused her of writing emotional, hysterical tripe instead of literature. Later, it pleased me immensely when her story won the first prize as best in the show. I found Gass to be dyspeptic and prickly, as though he had not figured out how to wear his fame. Or maybe he thought he had not earned quite enough of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment