Michael Gorra’s Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece (2012) was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography. His earlier books include After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, and Rushdie (1997) and The Bells in Their Silence: Travels Through Germany (2004). He has taught at Smith College since 1985, where he is now the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter.
The real subject of William Gass’s On Being Blue is language itself, which he sees as glorious to the exact degree that it is also inadequate, unable to sustain an immediate relation between a word on the one hand and its arbitrary and yet indissoluble referent on the other.