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The late William Gaddis wrote four novels during his lifetime, immense and complex books that helped inaugurate a new movement in American letters. Now comes his final work of fiction, a subtle, concentrated culmination of his art and ideas. For more than fifty years Gaddis collected notes for a book about the mechanization of the arts, told via a social history of the player piano in America. In the years before his death in 1998, he distilled the whole mass into a fiction, a dramatic monologue by an elderly man with a terminal illness. This "man in the bed" lies dying, thinking anxiously about the book he still plans to write, grumbling about the deterioration of civilization and trying to explain his obsession to the world before he passes away or goes mad. Agape- Agapecontinues Gaddis's career-long reflection via the form of the novel on those aspects of the corporate technological culture that are uniquely destructive of the arts. It is a stunning achievement from one of the indisputable masters of postwar American fiction.
A dazzling fourth novel by the author of The Recognitions, Carpenter's Gothic, and JR uses his considerable powers of observation and satirical sensibilities to take on the American legal system.<P><P> Winner of the 1994 National Book Award.
J R is a biting satire about the many ways in which capitalism twists the American spirit into something dangerous, yet pervasive and unassailable. At the center of the novel is a hilarious eleven year old-J R-who with boyish enthusiasm turns a few basic lessons in capitalist principles, coupled with a young boy's lack of conscience, into a massive and exploitative paper empire. The result is one of the funniest and most disturbing stories ever told about the corruption of the American dream.<P><P> Winner of the 1976 National Book Award
Now recognized as one of the giants of postwar American fiction, William Gaddis (1922-98) shunned the spotlight during his life, which makes this collection of his letters a revelation. Beginning in 1930 when Gaddis was at boarding-school and ending in September 1998, a few months before his death, these letters function as a kind of autobiography, and are all the more valuable because Gaddis was not an autobiographical writer. Here we see him forging his first novel The Recognitions (1955) while living in Mexico, fighting in a revolution in Costa Rica, and working in Spain, France, and North Africa. Over the next twenty years he struggles to find time to write the National Book Award-winning J R (1975) amid the complications of work and family; deals with divorce and disillusionment before reviving his career with Carpenter's Gothic (1985); then teaches himself enough about the law to indite A Frolic of His Own (1994), which earned him another NBA. Returning to a topic he first wrote about in the 1940s, he finishes his last novel Agape Agape as he lay dying.
Wyatt Gwyon forges paintings of the Flemish masters, not from larceny but from love, in a world where the real and fake have become indistinguishable. Winner of the National Book Award.
The book Jonathan Franzen dubbed the "ur-text of postwar ?ction" and the "?rst great cultural critique, which, even if Heller and Pynchon hadn't read it while composing Catch-22 and V., managed to anticipate the spirit of both"--The Recognitions is a masterwork about art and forgery, and the increasingly thin line between the counterfeit and the fake. Gaddis anticipates by almost half a century the crisis of reality that we currently face, where the real and the virtual are combining in alarming ways, and the sources of legitimacy and power are often obscure to us.
William Gaddis published only four novels during his lifetime, but with those works he earned himself a reputation as one of America's greatest novelists. Less well known is Gaddis's body of excellent critical writings. Here is a wide range of his original essays, some published for the first time. From "'Stop Player. Joke No. 4,'" Gaddis's first national publication and the basis for his projected history of the player piano, to the title essay about missed opportunities in America during the past fifty years, to "Old Foes with New Faces," an examination of the relationship between the writer and the problem of religion-this diverse collection displays the power of an autonomous literary intelligence in an age increasingly dominated by political and religious conservatism.
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