William Gass won his third National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism with 2002's Tests of Time, wherein Gass continued his essayistic forays into culture, narrative, national identity, architecture, experimental writing, censorship, and other topics.

Draft versions of some of these essays are included in the William H. Gass Papers, including "Anywhere But Kansas," "Invisible Cities" and "I've Got a Little List," among others, as well as printout drafts and page proofs of the whole book.