There's no denying it; Gaddis's JR is a hard book to get into. But once you've got into it, it's even harder to get out of. For a book that takes place entirely during the first half of a school year someplace on Long Island during the 70's, the diversity of characters, situations, and social circles is staggering. Characters include foul mouthed and foul minded sixth graders, failed intellectuals/alcoholics hiding out as school teachers, attorneys both earnest and corrupt, mid-level corporate bureaucrats, vicious corporate power brokers -- and that's only a partial catalog. As for the situations, just imagine the above types thrown against each other as a result of a sequence of wild, hilarious but ultimately plausible securities manipulations, and the end result is a portrait of our society in all its breadth and depth, with no wart unexamined. The book is as funny as it is frightening, especially considering how prophetic it is. Although the corporate vogue of the seventies was diversified conglomerates, Gaddis saw beyond that to the leveraged buyout schemes, vulture capitalism, and downsizing of the 80s and 90s. But it's not just a book about the culture of business; it's also about the business of culture. Gaddis makes composers, novelists, painters indirect accomplices in his comedy of horrors, despite their intentions and asprirations. But enough description; just read it, read it, read it.