- Paperback: 726 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books; New Ed edition (10 Sept. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1843541653
- ISBN-13: 978-1843541653
- Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,122,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
JR Paperback – 10 Sep 2003
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More About the Author
About the Author
WILLIAM GADDIS (1922-98) was one of the greatest writers in twentieth-century America.He wrote five novels and won two National Book Awards, for JR (1976) and for A Frolic of His Own (1995).His other landmark novels include: The Recognitions (1955) and Carpenter's Gothic (1985).Agape Agape was published by Atlantic in 2002.
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Top Customer Reviews
Aside from this astonishing prescient quality, it's a laugh-out-loud narrative, fierce and exciting, and so rich that it can't be digested in anything like a hurry. It's a book to wallow in, to enjoy like a deep warm bubble bath savoured in a perfectly lit bathroom. I began it 10 years ago, read nearly 200 pages, and always intended to return to it (okay, I got out of the bath, lived a little, then drew another one!). When I did pick it up again, a couple of months ago, there were many new elements in place to help me get even more from the novel: the two main ones being the Gaddis website where I could refresh my memory of the plot points up to where I left off, and my having engaged in the world of business as I hadn't when much younger.
So I cracked through the next 500 pages, despite their dense dialogue-based content. The lines are so good, true, funny, authentic, vivid, that there's very little to critique, even 34 years after its publication. The mix of barmy satire with more straightforward dramas is held together by the energy of the writing. The characters are all written sympathetically, except perhaps for the relatively minor one who most closely resembles Gaddis himself!
Gaddis wrote a short update to the book in 1987, when the first big stock market crash of the modern era came; but the original is too perfect, and too visionary to need anything like amending, improving, refining. It defines its context, the society that created it.Read more ›
`That's what a game is, if there weren't any rules there wouldn't be any game, now sit up.'
JR Vansant is an eleven year old schoolboy who manages to build an enormous economic empire - using his school's public phone booth. JR's empire touches on everyone in the novel and most of them become entangled in it: especially as the paper that documents JR's empire needs to be stored. Everyone spends a great deal of their time thinking or dreaming about money: desiring money; obtaining money and worrying about a lack of money. Money is no longer simply a medium of exchange, in a world in which almost every aspect of life and feeling is commodified, money is an object of desire in its own right. JR's empire grows like a particularly aggressive form of cancer, the size and spread of which becomes apparent to the reader through the conversations, letters and telephone calls that make up the bulk of the novel.
`Is it my fault if I do something first which if I don't do it somebody else is going to do it anyway?'
JR is surrounded by musicians, teachers, and writers - but we see little that is positive or truly creative in their influence. Creativity is subservient to money; aesthetic values have no place in a world where everything is assigned a monetary value. Can such a world be sustained? Should it be? Surely there is a place for Edward Bast? And for Wagner? Both Nordic gods and stock markets can crash. The glory of the gods is only an illusion.
I have read this novel once, and found it both energising and exhausting.Read more ›
Personally I find the stuff that's supposed to be funny to be lame. To me what makes the book great is the amazing and groundbreaking dialogue. Like real dialogue (and unlike the stylized dialogue found in all novels before this IMO), the dialogue is interrupted and anarchic, and builds up into a kind of cacophonous noise from which you slowly and amazingly learn to differentiate the characters. Personally I'm in awe, it's just an amazing feat on a technical level, and I believe it's a big influence on other recent dialogue savants like David Foster Wallace. But it's not for everyone - I have intelligent literature loving friends who consider it wanky and lacking in soul. You have to love the art of writing itself to appreciate it IMO.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was heartened to see other reader comments on this intensely subversive, fabulously funny and amazing novel of commerce, art and the American Century. Read morePublished on 19 Mar. 1999
See: one-line summary. A very, very good work of fiction. On the same level as John Barth's best work.Published on 7 Feb. 1999
As in his "Recognitions", Gaddis has shown himself the true successor to Joyce. In wonderful verve he displays his understanding of America with the usual acute insight,... Read morePublished on 19 May 1998