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American author (1924- )

The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.

WILLIAM H. GASS, A Temple of Texts

I write because I hate. A lot. Hard.

WILLIAM H. GASS, The Paris Review, summer 1977

It is discouraging to leave the past behind only to see it coming toward you like the thunderstorm which drenched you yesterday.


Words [are] more beautiful than a found fall leaf.

WILLIAM H. GASS, A Temple of Texts

Sports, politics, and religion are the three passions of the badly educated.

WILLIAM H. GASS, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country and Other Stories

Getting even is one great reason for writing.... But getting even isn’t necessarily vicious. There are two ways of getting even: one is destructive and the other is restorative. It depends on how the scales are weighted.

WILLIAM H. GASS, The Paris Review, summer 1977

I don't know myself, what to do, where to go ... I lie in the crack of a book for my comfort ... it's what the world offers ... please leave me alone to dream as I fancy.

WILLIAM H. GASS, Omensetter's Luck

It's not the word made flesh we want in writing, in poetry and fiction, but the flesh made word.

WILLIAM H. GASS, On Being Blue

Writing by hand, mouthing by mouth: in each case you get a very strong physical sense of the emergence of language—squeezed out like a well-formed stool—what satisfaction! what bliss!

WILLIAM H. GASS, The Paris Review, summer 1977

We often fear that literature is a game we can't afford to play — the product of idleness and immoral ease. In the grip of that feeling it isn't life we pursue, but the point and purpose of life — its facility, its use.

WILLIAM H. GASS, Fiction and the Figures of Life

I was struck by the way in which meanings are historically attached to words: it is so accidental, so remote, so twisted. A word is like a schoolgirl’s room—a complete mess—so the great thing is to make out a way of seeing it all as ordered, as right, as inferred and following.

WILLIAM H. GASS, The Paris Review, summer 1977

Ah, but what is form but a bum wipe anyhow?

WILLIAM H. GASS, On Being Blue


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