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JR Paperback – 1975
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
-That's part of it, yes.
-And power, and lack of it, and control, and lack of it, and will, and lack of it....
-And sound, and too much of it.
-And life in these United States.
Difficult? Maybe. But it's WORTH IT! It is THE great American novel. You don't need the notes on line, you need to read it carefully and think about it while you read. It's funny in the darkest way, and cutting and touching and right to the heart of much of what's wrong, and yet could be right, with our greedy, noisy, Corporate country. Difficult (if it is) doesn't mean bad, it means it's a challenge. Step up to it and enjoy every word of it. Everyone should read it.
After spending a month going through it, I think that William Gaddis is a great writer of dialogue and a mediocre storyteller with a good sense of humor. The way he captures spoken American English is simply genius. W/r/t his sense of humor, I did laugh out loud at parts, but didn't think him as funny as DFW. And the story. It's there, and unlike other modern/postmodern works, it's got an ending which is always nice (unlike DeLillo's Underworld or Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow), and an entertaining plot (in stark contrast to Joyce's Ulysses and Beckett's trilogy), but due to the sheer abundance of characters, the story has no focus and I never made any connection and identified with any of them (although I was rather fond of Jack Gibbs). JR is also better than his other works I read - A Frolic of His Own (which was frustrating to read at parts because I thought a lot of the scenes were pointless) and Agape Agape (just an old dying man rambling about his work throughout).
Like other modern and postmodern works, the book has everything going against itself to be read by the general public despite winning the National Book Award. Characters and company names abound, story continues without any chapter break as characters' voices come and go, and the business transactions that form the spine of the story are highly complex and difficult to keep track of.
The main difficulties in going through this novel are: 1) figuring out who's talking and what's going on from the dialogue, which fortunately gets easier as you slog through the story and get used to the lilt and locution of the characters; and 2) keeping track of all the people and companies' names and business deals and understanding how they are all related to one another.
Overall, a good comedy with amazing dialogue. It just takes patience to go through it.