Books: The Physicality of Words

IN THE HEART OF THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY by William Gass. 206 pages. Harper & Row. $4.95.

There is little doubt that William Gass is speaking for himself when one of the characters in this collection of short stories says: "I can't tolerate any more of my sophistries about spirit, mind, and breath. Body equals being, and if your weight goes down, you are the less." Coming from a man who makes his living teaching philosophy at Purdue University, such a flat-out assertion seems a little unusual. But then William James pledged in his diary to "care little for speculation; much...

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