William H. Gass (born July 30, 1924 in Fargo, North Dakota) is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, critic and teacher.
Gass has described his childhood as unhappy and damaging, claiming his father was emotionally abusive and bigoted, and his mother was a quiet, passive, alcoholic. Critics have noted many characters in Gass' fiction have these same traits. Gass has cited the anger inspired by his childhood as a major influnce on his work, even stating that he writes "to get even." Despite his prolific output, he has stated that writing is difficult for him.
Gass typically devotes enormous attention to the construction of sentences, arguing their importance as the basis of his writing. His prose has been described as flashy, difficult, edgy, masterful, inventive and musical. Steven Moore, writing in the Washington Post has called Gass "the finest prose stylist in America." Much of Gass' fiction is metafictional.
Gass attended Wesleyan University, then served in the United States Navy, a period he describes as perhaps the worst of his life. He earned his A.B. in philosophy from Kenyon College in 1947, then his Ph.D in philosophy from Cornell University in 1954, where he studied under Max Black. Gass has taught at The College of Wooster, Purdue University and at Washington University. While he retired from teaching fulltime in 1999, Gass remains professor emeritus at Washington University
Gass has received many awards and honors, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1965 and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1970; teaching awards from Purdue University and Washington University; and the American Book Award for The Tunnel. in 1997
Omensetter's Luck 1966
In The Heart of the Heart of the Country 1968
Willie Master's Lonesome Wife 1968
The First Winter of My Married Life 1979
The Tunnel 1995
Cartesian Sonata 1998