Omensetter's Luck (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) (Paperback)

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Omensetter's Luck (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) By William H. Gass Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Gass's first novel is brilliantly evocative. It features some of the most distressingly beautiful prose I've ever come across--he gets away with writing stuff like, "He hadn't known the sea had holes but how else did you drown?" Stuff that sticks with you.

-- Delaney

— From Delaney A. Staff Picks


"The most important work of fiction by an American in this literary generation." -The New Republic

Now celebrating the 50th anniversary of its publication, Omensetter's Luck is the masterful first novel by the author of The Tunnel, Middle C, On Being Blue, and Eyes: Novellas and Stories.

Greeted as a masterpiece when it was first published in 1966, Omensetter's Luck is the quirky, impressionistic, and breathtakingly original story of an ordinary community galvanized by the presence of an extraordinary man. Set in a small Ohio town in the 1890s, it chronicles - through the voices of various participants and observers - the confrontation between Brackett Omensetter, a man of preternatural goodness, and the Reverend Jethro Furber, a preacher crazed with a propensity for violent thoughts. Omensetter's Luck meticulously brings to life a specific time and place as it illuminates timeless questions about life, love, good, and evil. This edition includes an afterword written by William Gass in 1997.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

About the Author

William H. Gass (1924-2017)—essayist, novelist, literary critic—was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He was the author of six works of fiction and nine books of essays, including Life Sentences, A Temple of Texts, and Tests of Time. Gass was a former professor of philosophy at Washington University. He lived with his wife, the architect Mary Gass, in St. Louis.

Praise For…

"[Omensetter's Luck is] Gass’ first novel, and his least avant-gardeish, and his best. Basically a religious book. Very sad. Contains the immortal line “The body of Our Saviour shat but Our Saviour shat not.” Bleak but gorgeous, like light through ice."
-David Foster Wallace

"Omsensetter's Luck is the work of a totally committed, totally uncompromising and extraordinarily gifted writer."
-Walker Percy

"A rich fever, a parade of secrets, delirious, tormented, terrifying, of the most exciting, energetic and beautiful novels we can ever hope to read."
Product Details
ISBN: 9780141180106
ISBN-10: 0141180102
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: April 1st, 1997
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin