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Omensetter's Luck by William H. Gass

Omensetter's Luck (1966)

by William H. Gass

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5191028,831 (4.17)23

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OMENSETTER'S LUCK is an impressionistic steam-of-consciousness novel featuring many voices. A dense yet playful fiction that isn't easy to grasp (never mind keep hold of!). In many ways it is reminiscent of a vivid dream - a dream reflecting a long-lost North American past - quirky, nostalgic, full of merging meaning, colours and scenes. I would say this is primarily a work for prose-lovers: surreal and wondrous descriptions mingle with gritty realism, stark machinations and crazy-clunky confabs. A book to either get joyously lost in or be utterly bemused by. ( )
  BlackGlove | Jan 20, 2018 |
Hmmm, I expected more from this. I'll give it 3.5 stars. I really thought this book was going to take off and I was going to be in love with it, but it never did.
Takes place in the late 1800s (or maybe the first part is in the early 1900s). The first part is 29 pages and fun to read. I would really like to re-read it actually, as it takes place after the rest of the book. It's a fun way of introducing Furber, Pimber and Omensetter. The next part is the earliest section, and talks about Pimber and how Omensetter came to town and his 'luck'. Another 40 pages or so.
Then we have 330 pages of crazy Furber. He's fun and all, but sometimes I'm just lost and bored. Sort of like The Sound and the Fury. And the ending was good, but sort of anti-climactic.
Maybe I'm missing something.
Oh well. ( )
  weberam2 | Nov 24, 2017 |
Extraordinary. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
"Truth is the father of lies; nothing survives, nothing dies; only the wicked can afford the wise." ( )
  lawrenh | May 14, 2014 |
Word, word, what is a word,
Can it be seen, can it be heard,
down with the fish, up with the bird,
floating obscene, flying absurd?

A [word] is a [word] is a [word].

-Gertrude Stein


A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit.

-Samuel Johnson, lexicographer



Do you see where I'm getting?
Am I not being clear?
I was doing quite well,
Dancing 'round here.

Perhaps a dance
is not what you need,
too much distraction,
not enough creed.

Well then here. How about
we go nice and slow. Let down from the jig
and let the words flow. We're still running on, but at a more
set level, carrying and clearing for a path more theoretical,
to the words. Rhythm is all very well, but the pure experience can only get you so far. The dance is done, the seconds blanked with enthusiasm are now filling up again with small thoughts and phrases.

(Word, word, what is a word.)

A word is a chunk, a breath, a shape that flies far for all that it embodies. The inherent history and meaning in each of these small creatures should drop it like a stone from the mouth, sink the head down in the mind. And yet, simply release them into the air, and they speed out far faster than belief can tell.
They take root even faster. The moving, the still, the kind, the cruel, the extruding force and the intrusive gaze, all minds run lurid when words delve deep into their soft and tender flesh.

Oftentimes, the roots grow deep, and the growths run strange.
Shocking, the actions that can sprout from such frenzied actions of so small a thing.

Furious Logorrhea - A Recipe

1. One Human Being (A for Short)
2. The Word of God (Any Word Will Do)
3. Knowledge of Sin
4. Guilt
5. Fear of Living
6. Love of Logos
7. One Congregation
8. One Human Being, Full of Joy and Love for Living, sans The Word of God (B for Short)

1. Emotional/Physical Isolation of A
2. Add The Word of God
3. Ferment, mixing in additional Knowledge of Sin, Guilt, Fear of Living, and Love of Logos as needed.
4. Add One Congregation. Pause Step 1 when interaction is guaranteed to result in Rage and Contempt. Remove products to keep a steady reaction.
5. Steep until optimal mix of Yearning and Loathing is desired.
6. Add B.


Words can be wrapped and remembered as friends, unwrapped into points to spit yourself upon. Words cradle you when living is futile, and keep life from you at arms length. Words are careful in their constructions about you, careful enough to leave you with nothing but a sense of wasted time. Words feed you your past when it is spent, and starve you of the present. Many words spat out at an object will pattern it into paper, much as an X-ray clings to the bones and ghosts them outside the body. Unlike X-rays, there is no 'safe' amount of words.

Words and Life are infections, ultimately fatal. Fortunately for the record of human existence, they don't like each other very much. It makes for an entertaining show.


Word, word, what is a word,
Can it be seen, can it be heard,
down with the fish, up with the bird,
floating obscene, flying absurd?

A word is a beaut, a word is a praise,
a word can holler and call out your name,
when you are sad, or left by yourself,
words can be such a wonderful game.

A word is a noose, a word is a knife,
a word breaks the living faster than thought,
when you are careless and surrounded by few,
the power of words you'll soon have forgot.

A word is your devil, a word is your guide,
a word is your womb, and in it you hide. ( )
9 vote Korrick | Apr 15, 2013 |
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