Joel Minor | St. Louis Public Radio

Joel Minor

Lorin Cuoco passed away Aug. 8 at the age of 64.
John Fowler

St. Louis’ literary community lost one of its most influential members, Lorin Cuoco, 64, earlier this month. The longtime editor and poet passed away at her University City home Aug. 8 after a long illness, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Cuoco is perhaps best known for her work alongside the late novelist William Gass, a dear friend and collaborator. Together they founded and oversaw Washington University’s International Writers Center (now the Center for the Humanities), and she edited multiple books with Gass.

She was also a force for the St. Louis Poetry Center, the River Styx literary organization and other local efforts to raise the profile of St. Louis’ literary scene. On top of all that, she was an accomplished radio professional.

A painting of William H. Gass hangs in Washington University's Olin Library. (Detail; oil on canvas, 1995, Marion Miller)
Image courtesy of Washington University

The writings of the late author and philosopher William H. Gass have a reputation for being cerebrally intimidating to some would-be readers. But when Joel Minor opened one of Gass’ books for the first time years ago, he was pleasantly surprised by a sense of accessibility.

“I found his work very approachable,” said Minor, who now oversees the Modern Literature Collection where Gass’ literary archive is housed. “‘Middle C’ is, I think, a very engrossing, approachable book. If you go into it knowing it’s not going to be a strictly linear narrative from start to finish, you’re going to be able to follow it and really appreciate his ability to work the language in a unique way in this character’s perspective.”