This is the fifth and final seminar in the “Living Authors” program, and students ask questions. Gass discusses how he sees the reader using his texts. About the theft of a manuscript, Gass describes “working long hours,” and “going without sleep” while teaching. He says the replacement was a “better book” than the first version. He speaks about the writer’s “task,” use of words, and poetry. He talks about characters and how he wants to be “as direct as possible,” not difficult. He talks about literary criticism as “education,” and metatext. Gass says he does not “feel competent” to write poetry but enjoys writing doggerel, especially limericks. McCaffery asks a question about “Icicles,” which was performed as a dramatic reading. On the second side of the tape Gass talks briefly about “epiphany” until McCaffery calls a break. Then Gass discusses Henry Miller. Gass discusses Wittgenstein as a “great mind in action.” He talks about Thomas Pynchon’s writing and discusses what makes a good book. A student asks how a text can be self-contained when words must refer to the outside world, and Gass says that is a tension in art. Gass discusses Latin American writing and moves on to how his views have changed. Gass says plot is traditionally the most important device in fiction, which is “the organization of words,” not “events.” Gass talks about the narrator’s view of a story and analytical versus mechanistic style. Asked why he wrote Omensetter’s Luck, Gass answers that he does not know what each book will be like. He discusses the creation of text, using chalk on the chalkboard to diagram his meaning. He uses intentional symbols and refers to the real world but he is “not interested in” the real world, but transformation. He says, “I write because I can’t help it,” adding, “I don’t enjoy it at all.” He does enjoy teaching. Gass considers himself to be a writer who is more fundamentally interested in fiction but in the last few years he has been writing essays. Gass says that no one knows whether they are writing for a small audience. In his book he was interested in “recursiveness,” and discusses how the book works using the chalkboard.