30 thoughts on “Omensetter’s Luck – William H. Gass

  1. This novel was first published in 1966.


    “Israbestis felt his stomach tumble. Gas.”

    A Ohio township called Gilean (just finished a book called ‘The Ceremonies’ by TED Klein, one that took place in Gilead!), this Gass one being in the late 19th century, its narration Joycean, real-time consciousness in a stream, a house sale, all the characters building up madly by instinct of Gestalt-building, by a scenario where an earlier Trump might have lived? Also a vivid conjuration of sailing the world among the cracks and crannies of a wall! And the rambling adventures of a cat. And the deadly nature of fences.
    Where on Earth have I landed by picking up this book? Do you call that LUCK!
    A tale of Brackett Omensetter. But he’s not the main character, I infer. That’s someone called Furber (an earlier version of Trump as a Reverend, who knows yet?)…

    “the passage of blood through the house,”

    • Don’t ask me how I already know, but I think Furber, later in the book, grabs for a woman’s bodily private parts on a train…
      “His fingers startled, then burrowed toward her privacy.”

      I already have the theory, yet to be fleshed out, that Jethro Furber is the retrocausal premonition of Donald Trump.


    This is the Flood of John Cowper Powys before he had first thought to ask the question about a tench. This is Omensetter who creates a Gestalt of the book around him, a well of water to be made safe by his landlord Pimber, whose wife has the same name, I guess, then a fox as objective-correlative, Omensetter arrived with wife and children, at Gilean with his goods piled high on his cart, “high-lashed swaying cradle” at the top…
    Pimber (timber?) counts trees as part of his quest for fulfilment like Mr Ramsay in Virginia Woolf ever tries to reach Q in the alphabet? Pimber ends up comparing himself with Omensetter, to Pimber’s detriment, and the Powysian climax of Flood and inferred pageant reaches such sad sorrow for Pimber… and Omensetter, before Pimber left, “had hid behind his face and made his back a wall.”
    The lucky essence of Brackett Omensetter is, for me, like the instinctive act of dreamcatching or hawling …..”What Omensetter did he did so simply that it seems a miracle. It eased from him, his life did, like the smooth broad crayon line of the man who drew your cartoon at the fair.”
    ‘Leaky bag of potatoes’ Reverend Jethro Furber, meanwhile, in fleeting preparation for arguably becoming a knotted string version of Donald Trump, “….was murmuring, immure him, cure him or immure him — some such thing — if he were really in the corner like a clothes tree, was he? was it Watson where the walls were willowing?”
    Some can make do with trees, or those earlier deadly fences in Tott’s story, instead of walls?


    Page 75 to 91

    Furber resents Omensetter, take it as read, and has his stream of consciousness ignited – his thoughts, each an impulsive tweet, a mounting mountain of tweets, like Hamlet on Twitter to Yorick. Beyond the concupiscence of even Molly’s Monologue in Joyce, it seems, so far. They called such literary devices a stream of consciousness in Joyce’s day, which this is, but now it’s called Twitter. Tweets, and longer passages, too…

    “The land fell and the trees parted so that seated where he was the Ohio might have made his eyes blink, but the wall was eight feet high…”
    “…a liar; how far was he from the conscience of his people?”
    “There was privet still alive from a feeble attempt before his time to divide the garden with hedges, and a rose which the wind burned to the ground every winter sprawled over a rotting willow stump, its canes nearly leafless from disease, struggling through bloom. Chafers would feed upon the buds, yet he would stay his hand, verifying, once again, the destructive course of nature. Orange yellow when it flowered, it was a Climber, and he thought he recognized its fragrance.”
    “Though she wriggled suggestively, hand to her mouth, she had no points to her chest, and Furber decided she still had a glabrous cleft.”

    And Furber becomes a JC Powys tench, too?
    “Fish in the skywater, a glint of gold as he passed through the limbs of the seatrees, deeply voyaging even to the purple shadows along the bottom where he lay on his side to wait for seamice, small luminous shrimps, and butterflies.”

  4. Pages 91 – 109

    My underlining.
    “; so Furber felt, even as boy, that if the Lord really wished to bring the world to a terrible end, he would not toss earth and heaven together […] but simply withdraw Himself so that the whole earth and the heavens beyond the earth would settle quietly into the hands of man.”

    This book should be studied, and studied quick! I have not the energy or heart for more. At least today.

  5. Quotes from pages 109 – 133

    “Quarckaling? Sull Yully? Nannerbantandan? TuK? Too rooky, won’t reply, all tweetered up…”

    “Sin first and saint later. Cruel to be kind, of course, and the hurt’s in the hurter — that’s what they say — a lot of blap. That’s my name, my nomination.”

    “Love, hate. Kiss, kill. In, out, up, down, start, stop. Ah … from pleasure, pain. Like circumcision of the heart. Judgment and mercy. Sin and grace. It little mattered; everything seemed to Furber to be magically right, and his heart grew fat with satisfaction. Therefore there is good in every evil; one must lower away to raise; seek what’s found to mourn its loss; conceive in stone and execute in water; turn profound and obvious, miraculous and commonplace, around; sin to save; destroy in order to create; live in the sun, though underground. Yes. Doubt in order to believe –”
    “That steeple didn’t look any more than elm high to me and just a little shovel-nosed.”

    “There was a little embarrassment at the platform when he went so briskly off to pee but really it was all right because he was in a sweat to see the tower of God — the spike that was to spit him.”

    img_2752“Call it Furber’s fiddling finger.”

    “Pretty pudcums. She stirred; her legs moved lightly under his fingertips, down tickling, and his undulating flower bird settled in the hollow of her lap. Pet my bunny. Eee, sweet fig.”

  6. Pages 133 – 138

    More quotes about and from Furber.

    “What good was a wall that didn’t blind and deafen?”

    i.e. the wall Furber had set between himself and Brackett Omensetter.

    “…in the flower decked pavilion of his dreams, he’d made love too – to handsome monsters virtuous as witches, their bodies flung full length upon divans, rows of mouths along their limbs beseeching kisses, bald vaginas drawing wind;”

    “Like a schoolboy released to his summer, he capered in the garden. He knew how the orator, the actor, felt; what they sought in their success. He could tickle them and they would laugh; he could spank them and they’d howl; he could caress . . . and sighing, they’d respond. He was an honest preacher at last.”

    And there is much other evidence so far in this book that Furber is a preternatural forerunner of Trump, if Trump had become a preaching sermoniser instead of an entertainer, apprentice businessman and eventual president-elect of the USA. And I have about 200 pages more still to read and real-time review (later, below) about Furber’s tweets and sermons and other streams of conscious first Gassed out in 1966!!!!

    The jury is out, however, on whether Furber or Trump, one or both or neither, has a conscience about their behaviour.

  7. Pages 138 – 156 (ending section 1 of ‘The Reverend Jethro Furber’s Change of Heart’)


    “Furber is a sticky pill
    he will make you sick
    he will”

    “It’s then I think I recognize the nature of his magic. For whatever Omensetter does he does without desire in the ordinary sense with a kind of abandon, a stony mindlessness… […] Yet Omensetter doesn’t seem to be. He does not seem. Seem. Is this correct, this — seem? Oh you’re cows! Is this the feeling? I require an answer not a hiccough. Nannerbantan? TuK? Well he does. He does, doesn’t he? Well? Well? And what? And what shall we conclude from all this then?
    We must conclude he is the worst.
    He is the worst.

  8. “In order to survive the silence he would have to think of darkly distant and dissimilar things: the Antarctic, camels, Bogota.”

    Oh? Brackett?
    Really? Well, I’m happy to know. A thing like that.”

    Up to page 198, the end of section 3.

  9. Up to page 209 (end of Furber section 4.)

    “He could have cried piss at the steeple and been applauded during tea.”

    There is much strong sexual content in this section that I will not show here, but what I have shown above and below typifies the surprising nature of Furber-Trump’s success with the people WHATEVER he says or does.


  10. Page 210 – 212

    “There was no way to call back the words as they rushed out, he’d never remember them […] yet he meant, nevertheless, to try to fill their ears with fire. […] There’d be land in the shape of his syllables, a sea singing, sky like an echo, plants in bloom burning with speech, animals with yellow answering eyes, and finally men taking form from the chant of their names and gathering in crowds to enlarge their reply to the laments which had created them. […] To find and utter the proper words, the logoi spermatakoi… […] Then — full furious Jerome: ‘I am prepared to cut a foul-smelling nose.’ Tight down. Nevertheless his eyes buzzed in their ears and bit their ankles. […] Furber’s right arm sailed. He watched it in surprise. His voice, when it began, was calm and light, smooth and precise…”

    A perfect description of what I have seen of Trump’s preaching style.

  11. Up to page 245 (end of Furber section 7)

    “It was his opinion that he had been a boy already, a girl, a plant in the wood, an eagle hunting in the mountains, and had spent, in the ocean, the glancing life of a fish. All the elements, he says, were united in rejecting him. The air had chased him to the sea, and the sea had spat him out on the earth’s edge, and the earth had flung him toward the sun.”

    Above, more John Cowper Powys? Compare Mr. Geard with Furber and Trump? All my chosen quotes from JCP’s Glastonbury Romance novel are shown here: https://weirdtongue.wordpress.com/quotations-from-the-glastonbury-romance-by-john-cowper-powys/

    “Wasn’t it wonderful how easily the words came. Just lies upon lies on the cooling paper, the faint, faint odor of leather, the darkened heart behind his eyes … envy and envy and envy and anger … envy and anger and aching desire … here — here — I shall raffle off my penis as a prize …”

    Attendance at Mrs Omensetter breast-feeding Amos and gazing at the Omensetter daughters, and later told by Omensetter of Henry Pimber’s suicide (prefigured earlier in this book) – an obsessive telling and listening, with recurring images of Henry hanging from a tree limb if one but looked up… one wonders how Furber himself will end up? Is this a premonition about Furber or his alter ego Trump?

  12. Up to page 273 (end of Furber section 9)

    “Conscience? conscience?”

    This marks the point where I instinctively (preternaturally?) feel that my comparison between Trump and Furber, Brackett O and Barack O, ceases at the point where we are in political history TODAY. Before Obama’s farewell speech due TONIGHT. The rest of this 1966 book is either fiction or prophecy. We shall see.

    The rest of this review below this point is speculation.

    There are meanwhile more telling and graphic scenes here, including Furber turning against himself in the quotes at the foot of this entry below. He has never believed in God, or in Trump’s terms, in what he has been preaching to the electorate; he has been playing a reality game and never expected to win but now he is RESPONSIBLE, after acting out his own base passions under the guise of the locker room. Now he sees the corpse of Henry P as the death symbol of the unrevivable old USA as well as the new one under Obama (Omensetter’s sick new-born son as symbol of the current USA), where Obama’s laid-back sense of LUCKNESS removes the need to fetch the doctor and rely solely on Obamacare, his own care, in other words.
    Conscience besets them both?


    “His whole life, he’d meant to preach, to preach … Where was his preaching and his preachment now? Would Henry’s body, hanging in its tree, be dreaming? Would it be casting in itself another kind of shadow, a goblin shadow, to be feared?”

    “He [Furber] would whirl and whirl and slowly mount toward the ceiling — whirling. Too bad he’d never made a study of ballet.”


  13. Up to page 304 (end of Furber section 12 and end of novel)

    “Then Furber’s body shook with the spasms of uncontrollable laughter, his mouth gaped and his chest heaved as if he were Brackett Omensetter himself in the deep bend of his luck, though not a sound emerged, only the whistle of his breath, and a few tears squeezed from the corners of his eyes.”

    This book was a preternatural, unintended (perhaps pre-causal!) prophecy that only a fiction could supply and that only a gestalt real-time review many years later could have unlocked. That’s my contention.
    It’s no coincidence that Henry’s and Brackett’s wives were both called Lucy, and that Henry could not have hung himself so high without help, and that he was carrying Brackett’s rent money.
    No coincidence, too, that, in all likelihood, Trump is to be Obama’s only legacy…..
    An omen-setter.


  14. “(Now, of course, I lie as if the truth depended on it.) The common run detest me, I thought, so why shouldn’t I detest the common run? Yet here I am, the founder of the Party of the Disappointed People.”
    — from THE TUNNEL (1995) by William H Gass

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