People sometimes say that the important thing to notice about some Bob Dylan song is what is left out. I have enough to do with what’s left in, and the same is true for Gass’ stories and novellas in this book. And really, what is the difference between a story and a novella?
I was struck in the review I read that one of the stories was told from the perspective of a chair. More specifically, it is a folding chair used for customers waiting to get their hair cut. At some point, there is a sudden (random?) act of violence, similar in nature to the one in “In Camera,” the best and first story. I suspect I am supposed to know why the violence has occurred, but I don’t. And while I could hazard a few somewhat informed guesses, I don’t really care.
There is much in here about seeing. That explains the stories told from the perspective of inanimate objects. The piano used in Casablanca narrates a forgettable story. But except when he layers in the photographs of “In Camera,” this collection comes across as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”