Gass’s first short story to be published, “The Triumph of Israbestis Tott,” was later revised for inclusion in Omensetter’s Luck, a novel told in three distinct parts by three different narrators and set in a fictional Ohio town in the 1890s. Gass began writing Omensetter's Luck around 1954, but after his first completed manuscript was stolen from his office in 1958 (and was attempted to be adapted into a stage play by the thief, a jealous colleague) Gass had to rewrite the whole thing, based upon earlier notes and drafts. Published in 1966, Omensetter's Luck drew widespread acclaim from critics, who were drawing comparisons to William Faulkner, Edgar Lee Masters, Sherwood Anderson and James Joyce. The book has gone through many editions, both foreign and domestic, and remains in print today.

The William H. Gass Papers include multiple boxes of files related to Omensetter's Luck, including all of his early notes, outlines and drafts, a few of which you can view here. Also included in his papers and this exhibit is the unpublished story, "At Horseshoes," intended to be included in the novel. Gass's thoughts on the book and witty reaction to some of the book's critics come out in his letters to David Segal, his agent. You can hear Gass reading from Omensetter's Luck in the two audio files at the end.