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JR Paperback – 10 Sep 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)

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Product Description

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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-Money ...? in a voice that rustled. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a phenomenal creation, a 726-page prophecy of everything that Gaddis foresaw was bound to follow from unfettered capitalism as day follows night - almost all of which did indeed transpire, from shortly after its publication in the messy mid-1970s right up to the global capitalist meltdown we're going through now.

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.
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By A Customer on 5 July 1997
Format: Paperback
JR is, and I think will come to be seen as, one of the greatest works of literature. Like the world¹s other masterpieces, it rewards persistence magnificently. Like them, it takes some adjustment, for it is a sort of parallel world with a structure and complexity mirroring ours so well that one may mistake it, as one may take our world, for random chaos (the novel contains, in fact, a scene of pandemonium unequaled in literature). But the more one reads it, the more formal excellence it discloses: both in its overall plan and in its detail. JR is a book of voices, written mostly in dialogue. Among other things, it is the greatest novel of New York and environs ever written. Head and shoulders above any other American novel of this century. Buy it, and just keep reading.
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Format: Paperback
This is William Gaddis's second novel, a huge book of over 700 pages, a story told mostly through dialogue. The cacophony of voices contained in JR presents a brilliant satire on corporate America.

`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.
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Format: Paperback
You need to set aside your pride to read anything by William Gaddis, because at first you'll think he makes no sense. As you get used to his singular style, however, it becomes apparent that the man has caught more of the rhythm and cadence of American life than anyone this century. He understands the transactional mindset that is so singular to American myth, the constant reassessing of worth in the marketplace of ego and ideas. Moreover, he's figured out a way to translate this unquantifiable belief structure to paper. Only Wallace Stevens has as clear and true a vision of this gorgeous and awkward Arcadia we call America.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic work of artistic genius, but it's not for everybody. Most of the people I know that like it are writer wannabees, or people seriously interested in 20th century literature. It's not for people who want an easy read, or something with a traditional narration, it's a hard read.

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.
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