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An Essay on William Gass’s “The Pedersen Kid”

Check out “Let Me Make a Snowman: John Gardner, William Gass, and “The Pedersen Kid,'” an essay by Nick Ripatrazone that gives Gass’s famed novella a highly-scrutinized treatment and incorporates Gass and Gardner’s differing approaches to the understanding and writing of fiction. An excerpt: 

“The Pedersen Kid” is the genesis of William H. Gass’s canon. Composed in 1951, the novella was not published until 1961, and then only “generously” by John Gardner “in his magazine, MSS.” In the interim, Gass was first published in Accent in 1958, and crafted several other stories that would comprise his seminal collection, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country. “The Pedersen Kid” predates his doctoral thesis, his multiple novels, his myriad philosophical and critical writings. It also condenses—and reflects—his nearly thirty-year critical and creative dialogue with Gardner, a literary discourse central to the friction between meta- and traditional fictions within the second half of the twentieth century. The novella is a microcosm of Gass’s aesthetic: his fiction is recursive and wound, taut along lines both linear and achronological, and any examination of his contribution to American letters must consider seeds sown in this odd tale about Swedish-Americans, death, and, most importantly, snow.

About John Madera

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.
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2 thoughts on “An Essay on William Gass’s “The Pedersen Kid”

  1. This is really great; I just finished In the Heart of the Heart . . .

    Can’t wait to read this essay. Thanks for posting it.

  2. I love In the Heart of the Heart of the Country & Other Stories, and as much as I love “The Pedersen Kid” and the title story, my favorite by far is “Order of Insects” (a story I think would fit nicely within your forthcoming hush-hush project).

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