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Author of the deeply satirical novel JR (which features an 11-year-old capitalist who trumps up his Army surplus company in a manner that seems eerily prescient today) and of The Recognitions, Gaddis (1922-1998) was a fact-checker at the New Yorker and a corporate speech-writer before coming to prominence, but published very little essay-based work. Editor Joseph Tabbi here collects 29 short and occasional pieces, some left in manuscript at the time of Gaddis's death, others admiring encomiums to Saul Bellow or Julian Schnabel, all of which, as he notes, "create a sense of the environment in which Gaddis worked."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Criticism is integral to William Gaddis' (1922-98) referential fiction, and he also wrote tonic critical essays spiked with a parodic wit, never-before-collected and invaluable works that Gaddis scholar Joseph Tabbi ably sets in literary and biographical context. Gaddis is particularly rousing in his skewering of the corporate world, a realm he infiltrated while writing for Eastman Kodak and IBM, and he takes on with equal mettle the Protestant work ethic and its shaping of the military-industrial complex, and the plight of art in a culture of pragmatism. Fascinated and appalled by the complexity, hypocrisy, and fever of American life, Gaddis concludes that we're all in this craziness together, "we are all in the same line of business: that of concocting, arranging, and peddling fictions to get us safely through the night." Donna Seaman
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