hits counter The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings

Availability: Ready to download

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 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.


Compare

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 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.

30 review for The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings

  1. 5 out of 5

    B0nnie

    This is a collection of essays, speeches, reviews and "occasional" writings from 1951 to 1998 by William Gaddis, edited with notes by Joseph Tabbi. The essays originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly; The New York Times; Harper's; The New York Times Book Review; The Yale Review; Frankfurter Allgemenine Zeitung. Some points Tabbi covers in the introduction: -William Gaddis wrote a good deal of criticism. -published very few commentaries on the work of his contemporaries. -did not like to comm This is a collection of essays, speeches, reviews and "occasional" writings from 1951 to 1998 by William Gaddis, edited with notes by Joseph Tabbi. The essays originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly; The New York Times; Harper's; The New York Times Book Review; The Yale Review; Frankfurter Allgemenine Zeitung. Some points Tabbi covers in the introduction: -William Gaddis wrote a good deal of criticism. -published very few commentaries on the work of his contemporaries. -did not like to comment on his own work. -his writing dealt with: technology in relation to the arts; secular liberalism's argument with Christian fundamentalism; issues of copyright, plagiarism, and intellectual ownership; links between the novels and critical writing. -Gaddis understood the relative weakness of literary fiction in comparison with the state's collective imagination of itself. To place second in the competition is not the worst outcome for a writer, who sometimes does better by standing aside and watching the operations of power, appropriating its language, recycling its massive waste products, and reading significance in what has been left behind by the rush of progress. -he was known for his reticence, but like Cicero, on occasion capable of donning a toga and speaking out. -Gaddis's lifelong project on mechanization and the arts, presented through an outdated, homespun industry—the manufacture of paper piano rolls in the United States—now appears prescient and entirely topical. For Gaddis knew what current historians and artists have only begun to discover: that the digital age was anticipated by the arts. -Students in the arts and humanities learn to approach a text critically by making comparisons and exploring ambiguities. A fundamentalist, by contrast, reads a text single-mindedly, as a source of facts only: the "scientifically" revealed objective text that leaves no room for interpretation. -neoconservative concept can always find its liberal counterpart. -a critical mind cannot simply choose between uncertainty and truth, relativism and absolutism, Protestant individualism and Catholic authoritarianism. -Gaddis responded that at a certain point in his adult life the religion just "went away". -in his essay on religion, Gaddis notices, with Carl Jung, that lapsed Catholics are likely to be absolute in their rejection of the faith, whereas Protestant rebellion permits variations. -he has always found readers among visual artists and art followers. -the flourishing of the player piano, brought to a close by radio whose own star would be eclipsed, in turn, by video and TV, encapsulated for Gaddis the simultaneous waste and creativity within the culture of planned obsolescence. -Gaddis developed a close and lasting friendship with Julian Schnabe. -"look, and look again." For it is here precisely, in the act of second-order observation, that the viewer or reader participates in the artist's creative vision. A few quotes & thoughts from the essays and writings: The essay "Agape Agape: The Secret History of the Player Piano" (early 1960s) appears in JR , as fragments. The almost impenetrable prose made me seriously doubt my ability to follow a thought, with its many quotes wrapped in references inside an allusion: "And while those millions saw where they were marching much as Mark Twain saw them "through a glass eye, darkly," the one-eyed man could now peer into Aristotle's kingdom where, "if every instrument could accomplish its own work, obeying or anticipating the will of others, like the statues of Daedalus, or the tripods of Hephaestus, which, says the poet, 'of their own accord entered the assembly of the gods'; if, in like manner, the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want servants, nor masters slaves." For though the tale how for art's sake Wilde had faced Leadville's bullies to a standstill continued to amuse long after he'd withdrawn to join the compost smouldering in Europe with Pater's recipe for "success in life," here, now mother of necessity, invention was eliminating the very possibility of failure as a condition for success precisely in the arts where one's best is never good enough and who, so armed, could resist the temptation to shoot the pianist if the song would play on without losing a note ?" The treatment for a Motion Picture on "Software" (early 1960s) is an example of the kind of film Gaddis scripted for various corporations. He focused on the player piano because of its link from the arts to the automated society: punch cards evolved to the programming system of the computer. The arts led to the realm of technology, which now dominates the world. For the essay "The Rush for Second Place" from 1981 Tabbi explains: -the density of literary references in this essay reflects the syllabus of a course Gaddis had taught a few years before at Bard College on the theme of failure in American Literature: Calvinist teachings as a moral foundation for the emergence of capitalism. -Gaddis addresses "the challenge that American fiction has centered upon from its beginnings….with no long history and no class system, with the tradition of a complete freedom to do and become what one wants to, we are confronted with essential human problems of what, exactly, is worth doing." Some excerpts: "Ford was, after all, a veteran of the playing fields of Michigan, where he had been voted Most Valuable Player on a college football team that lost every conference game; but these were not the fields where winning mattered less than "how you played the game." They were closer to those of his predecessor, lately mired in Watergate while busy on the phone with strategies for the next day's victory by the Washington Redskins. These were not the fields of Eton, where Waterloo was won, but nearer those of the legendary Vince Lombardi, where "winning is not a sometime thing. It is an all-time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. There's no room for second place. There's only one place, and that's first place." "Vince Lombardi's exhortation lives on today in that "wild animal roar," that "outpouring of some visceral, primordial feeling of ascendancy and dominance" in the Astrodome and, decorously framed, on the office walls of middle management—often along with Murphy's law, and, further down the line, "This is a nonprofit enterprise, even if we didn't plan it that way." Elsewhere, such doggerel revives as "Everyone told him it couldn't be done; with a will he went right to it. He tackled the thing that couldn't be done, and couldn't do it." A nine-year-old passes in a T-shirt that proclaims, "I can't cope"; test scores drop; classrooms empty and jails fill; alcoholism gains illness status and drugs abound— prescriptions for the middle class, cash for the kids and ghettos; and the day's mail brings flyers offering courses in Mid-life Crisis, Stress Management, Success Through Assertiveness, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Hypnocybernetics, and The Creative You. Books disappear overnight or are instant "best-sellers": mortifying confessionals and est, group therapy, primal screams and "making it," pious plagiaries on moral fiction and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's TM Technique for reducing blood pressure and increasing self- esteem. Even impotence is briefly chic; the movie screen offers the dreary sentimental humanisms of Woody Allen achieved at the expense of cast and audience alike and, for the beer crowd, Rocky. There is a rush for second place." "Thus we mix good and evil, right and wrong and make space for the absolute triumph of absolute Evil in the world," Solzhenitsyn preached that gloomy day in Cambridge, managing to pose absolute Good only in the most amorphous terms and therefore scarcely absolute; able, in fact, to pose Evil's absolute in no more satisfactory terms than those of his own flawed, temporal enemy. And mounted against that enemy—billions upon billions of dollars and nine years hence at best—if the vast Bugs Bunny concept of the MX missile launching system actually comes into being, and someone drops a wrench into its innards, an error into its computers, or an item of "disinformation"—a simple lie will probably do—will anyone be left to sing the day's hit song, "Yes, We Have No Mananas"? Will anyone have been accountable? And will it, any of it, have been worth doing well?" "An Instinct for the Dangerous Wife" is a review of More Die of Heartbreak by Saul Bellow, 1987, in The New York Times Book Review. Gaddis later wrote of this essay "material notes & reading as though preparing for a dissertation on Bellow's work, done I suppose as I would wish for my own work". Excerpts: "In More Die of Heartbreak we welcome back the calamitous wit of The Adventures of Augie March and Herzog among people diligently struggling to rearrange one another's lives in their efforts to rescue, or simply to define their own, the human comedy implicit in Lenin's poser: Who uses whom? We hear their voices pour from the pages engulfing a plot which is comparatively simple, or would be if left to itself, a possibility that this embattled narrator never entertains for a moment." "One turns the last pages of More Die of Heartbreak feeling that no image has been left unexplored by a mind not only at constant work but standing outside itself, mercilessly examining the workings, tracking the leading issues of our times and the composite man in an age of hybrids. The long polar night offers a sharp image for this and indeed any well-wrought novel in its claim as art, isolating people in small groups hemmed in on every side by their inadequacies where they are bound to find each other out, which is fundamentally the task of the novel". On receiving the national book award for A Frolic of His Own (1995) Gaddis said, "I'm not reader-friendly. I do ask something of the reader, and many reviewers say I ask too much; even some of them who like my work say, but it's work, it's difficult; and as I say, it's not reader-friendly. Though I think it is, and I think that a reader gets satisfaction out of participating in, collaborating, if you will, with the writer, so that it ends up being between the reader and the page, without this whole world of giving readings. You read to children. Why did we invent the printing press? Why do we, why are we literate? Because of the pleasure of being all alone, with a book, is one of the greatest pleasures." In the Tributes section, Tabbi notes that Dostoyevsky was a major influence on Gaddis, who considered him the greatest of the Russian novelists, if not the greatest novelist, period. About Dostoyevsky Gaddis said, "Although one would hardly classify the author of Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Idiot as a comic writer, in what may be the darkest of his novels steeped in murder, suicide, and madness, political conspiracy and despoiled innocence, Feodor Dostoevski found room in The Possessed for a scathingly comic portrait of Turgenev, a delicious parody of German romanticism, even a passing glimpse of the death of an American who has left his bones to science and "his skin to be made into a drum, so that the American national hymn might be beaten upon it day and night." At every opportunity, humor takes the measure of the disharmony, incongruity, and absurdity that mark the intrusion of the irrational in the turmoil of human affairs."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    The Rush for Second Place is a merely slim collection of some of Gaddis's non-fiction work, ranging from a book review, a small selection from his work on the secret history of the player piano, a bit autobiographical from his time on the Panama Canal, an updated satire featuring JR before congress, a few essays on such as religion and politics, a few speeches and tributes, and even a sample of the propaganda work he did to pay for food. Making up for the thinness of this volume--and one imagine The Rush for Second Place is a merely slim collection of some of Gaddis's non-fiction work, ranging from a book review, a small selection from his work on the secret history of the player piano, a bit autobiographical from his time on the Panama Canal, an updated satire featuring JR before congress, a few essays on such as religion and politics, a few speeches and tributes, and even a sample of the propaganda work he did to pay for food. Making up for the thinness of this volume--and one imagines that there may yet be in the archives enough material for an expanded edition, even without packing it with his state and corporate work--is the density of Gaddis's essayistic style, allusive and quotational. Perhaps it would be a book which supplements his recently published letters more so than as a supplement to his novels. There is a good deal of repetition of the axes Gaddis's has had to grind throughout his career, a repetition which is more aesthetically pleasing than irritating, and which axes are ground explicitly here and in the letters but transformed and sublimated in the fiction. Stylistically contrasted with his fiction, yet since several pieces were published as stand-alones, one might feel confident in reading this collection even without yet having gone into his novels, only not so much an introduction to those novels. May we have more please? And/or perhaps a bookification of his uncollected fiction? Antietam and those posthumously published shorts?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mariano Hortal

    Publicado en http://lecturaylocura.com/la-carrera-... La carrera por el segundo lugar de William Gaddis. Historia incompleta de la pianola Nada más terminar de leer La carrera por el segundo lugar me vino a la cabeza la idea de que Gaddis no se sentía cómodo fuera de sus obras de ficción, como si el ensayo no fuera su medio de expresión. La publicación de estos ensayos (y textos de ocasión) de manera póstuma me reafirman en la idea de que el autor no estaba demasiado convencido en vida y la introd Publicado en http://lecturaylocura.com/la-carrera-... La carrera por el segundo lugar de William Gaddis. Historia incompleta de la pianola Nada más terminar de leer La carrera por el segundo lugar me vino a la cabeza la idea de que Gaddis no se sentía cómodo fuera de sus obras de ficción, como si el ensayo no fuera su medio de expresión. La publicación de estos ensayos (y textos de ocasión) de manera póstuma me reafirman en la idea de que el autor no estaba demasiado convencido en vida y la introducción y notas de Joseph Tabbi para esta edición aclaran ciertas ideas interesantes al respecto: 1º “Para Gaddis, la novela, en cuanto forma genérica, podía incluir cualquier cosa y, desde luego, era un buen medio para ejercer la crítica.” Dando este papel preponderante a la forma novelística, no creo que el ensayo le llamara demasiado como género, con la novela lo podía conseguir todo, lo que nos lleva al siguiente punto. 2º “[…] desarrolló algunos de los temas que aparecen en sus novelas en piezas escritas para la radio, revistas, ceremonias de entregas de premios, coloquios universitarios y una publicación académica. Incluso hay guiones de cine, tratamientos y discursos escritos para ejecutivos, todo de la época en que se ganaba la vida escribiendo para pequeñas empresas y corporaciones internacionales […] los ensayos y textos de ocasión están hechos, en muy buena medida, de retales de citas, no todas literarias; y, al igual que las obras de ficción de Gaddis, pueden leerse (o, mejor dicho, escucharse, como una partitura de varias voces.” Dichos textos, en realidad, parece como si hubieran sido las semillas que generaron sus obras de ficción, más que escritos a propósito; es importante señalar igualmente su forma de gestarlos, como un continuo de citas que se sumaban a sus pensamientos y que, posiblemente, hicieran su concepción dificultosa para el autor. El propio Tabbi acaba reconociendo que “No todas las piezas son de primera categoría. Algunas nunca se publicaron, y hay unas pocas que no pasaron de ser borradores, meras notas para una intervención oral.” Todo ello producto de lo que he dicho anteriormente y que sirve de argumentación para entender su lectura. 3º “Gaddis no había leído la obra de Benjamin sobre la mecanización y el arte cuando le pregunté por el tema en 1990, pero reconoció la “pertinencia” de Benjamin como un ejemplo más de convergencia, no de influencia.” Esto enlaza directamente con la obsesión de Gaddis por la pianola, esa historia incompleta de la que tenemos retazos en sus ensayos o en alguna de sus obras, pero de la que nunca sabremos enteramente lo que tenía pensado. El binomio mecanización-arte es, sin lugar a dudas, otro de los sellos de identidad del escritor. 4º “Gaddis, que estaba demasiado débil para asistir a la ceremonia (de recepción del Premio a la Trayectoria profesional que se le daría a Schnabel), elogió la obra de Schnabel por obligarnos a “mirar, y mirar de nuevo.” Este elogio deviene en una forma necesaria de interpretación de la compleja obra de William Gaddis, mirar de nuevo, una y otra vez, hasta poder discernir todo lo que nos quería transmitir. Dicho lo anterior, esta recopilación de textos (que contiene ensayos, textos, discursos y homenajes) es, por la propia naturaleza de su creación, irregular, por momentos farragosa, pero, indudablemente, contiene destellos de la genialidad del autor que justifican su lectura. El ensayo homónimo, por ejemplo, es fantástico y recoge perlas como la siguiente al hilo de la unión entre tecnología y arte: “La auténtica maravilla de nuestro complejo mundo tecnológico, dada la frustración que hay implícita en la ley de Murphy, no es que si algo puede salir mal, saldrá mal, sino que todavía haya algunas cosas que salgan bien.“ Especialmente ocurrente se mostró cuando tenía que recoger premios, impagable por ejemplo este texto cuando recibió el National Book Award por Jota Erre: “Debo decir que formo parte de esa estirpe en vías de extinción que piensa que los escritores deben leerle y no escucharse, y mucho menos verse. Creo que esto es porque en la actualidad parece haber una tendencia a colocar a la persona en el lugar de su obra, a convertir al artista creativo en un artista escénico, a considerar que lo que un escritor dice sobre la escritura es, en cierto modo, más válido, o más real, que su propia escritura.” Me gusta especialmente el párrafo porque desvela varias facetas del autor: su aversión a la prensa y a ser una figura pública es ya conocida, a la manera de otros autores esquivos que consideraban que lo más interesante, lo que tienen que decir, está en sus libros, de ahí su incomodidad para ir a recoger un premio o tener que agradecerlo en público; parte de esta incomodidad viene igualmente de tener que expresarse mediante un ensayo, su medio era, sin lugar a dudas, la ficción. También porque la ficción la entendía como una extensión de su persona, de sus obsesiones, un proyecto de vida reflejado en todo lo que escribió. Todo se ordenaba con respecto a este fin. No puedo terminar sin poner otro de los textos que más aparecerá en las reseñas/críticas que se hagan de estos ensayos y en el cuál se refiere a un crítico que comentó ciertos aspectos sobre su segunda novela: “Recientemente, un grupo de críticos vanguardistas ha planteado la idea de que los libros deberían ser ilegibles. Este movimiento tiene ventajas evidentes. Al ser ilegible, un texto repele a los reseñistas, críticos, antólogos, académicos y otras formas parasitarias de vida.”. Y después sobre la idea de que cualquiera puede escribir un libro, añade: “¿Qué pasa entonces con el libro realmente ilegible? Sin duda esto parece estar alcance de cualquiera y sin embargo, no es así. Crear un texto ilegible, mantener este atractivo propósito a lo largo de 726 páginas, es algo que exige unas facultades poco corrientes. El señor Gaddis las tiene.” Totalmente consciente de su estatus, Gaddis bromea sobre su ilegibilidad, una señal de identidad que se conserva en la actualidad; me siento privilegiado por haber disfrutado de todas sus obras (a falta de cartas

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Some great stuff here, and particularly interesting to see his corporate writing. Probably a collection for Completists only (but that should be all of you).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Max Nemtsov

    И почти 20 лет после смерти Гэддис продолжает оставаться невероятно актуальным — и не только в Штатах притом, не столько там, сколько на этих территориях. В Штатах традиция социокультурного осмысления, в общем, не прерывается, хоть и остается уделом «мыслящего гетто», а тут ее, похоже, и не было никогда. И совершенно непонятно, кто в этой стране будет читать Гэддиса, тем паче — понимать его, тем паче — сейчас, потому что он говорит о вещах, и близко не прилегающих к радарам русского «мыслящего м И почти 20 лет после смерти Гэддис продолжает оставаться невероятно актуальным — и не только в Штатах притом, не столько там, сколько на этих территориях. В Штатах традиция социокультурного осмысления, в общем, не прерывается, хоть и остается уделом «мыслящего гетто», а тут ее, похоже, и не было никогда. И совершенно непонятно, кто в этой стране будет читать Гэддиса, тем паче — понимать его, тем паче — сейчас, потому что он говорит о вещах, и близко не прилегающих к радарам русского «мыслящего меньшинства». Становится как-то горько и обозленно понятно, что Россия не просто отстала от цивилизации, отставание — оно же линейно, есть иллюзия, что можно догнать (и «перегнать», ха-ха), а на самом деле — нет. Россия — на обочине цивилизации, видимо, всегда там была, и никакого «особого пути» с этой обочины нет. Все разговоры об этом «особом пути», даже самые искренние — они от безысходности, от обиды. А народ — если он даже тексты Пинчона воспринимает так, как мы наблюдаем… чего уж тут.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    Will review sooner or later.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Bursey

    For a review of Agapē Agape and The Rush for Second Place, check out Centring the Margins: Essays and Reviews: http://www.zero-books.net/books/centr... For a review of Agapē Agape and The Rush for Second Place, check out Centring the Margins: Essays and Reviews: http://www.zero-books.net/books/centr...

  8. 4 out of 5

    César

    Complejo, con brillantes pasajes en determinados artículos. Iluminador, aunque lejos de la eficacia de sus novelas. Para aquellos que quieran completar lo leído en sus obras de ficción.

  9. 5 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    https://rogueliterarysociety.com/f/th... William Gaddis unfortunately is not my cup of tea. He does have meaningful words that might be lifted for a lukewarm and deficient review I am presenting here on the page. The fact that I made note of certain statements is remarkable in that I rarely take notes of something of no interest to me. Obviously, there was a word or two that came to my attention. It is also possible that I am not as an evolved reader as I should be. And for that I might be forgiv https://rogueliterarysociety.com/f/th... William Gaddis unfortunately is not my cup of tea. He does have meaningful words that might be lifted for a lukewarm and deficient review I am presenting here on the page. The fact that I made note of certain statements is remarkable in that I rarely take notes of something of no interest to me. Obviously, there was a word or two that came to my attention. It is also possible that I am not as an evolved reader as I should be. And for that I might be forgiven. ...almost any problem can be solved that can be adequately stated… ...William Graham Sumner had already borne witness “that if we do not like the survival of the fittest, we have only one possible alternative, and that is the survival of the unfittest.” “I mean to say,” says Mr. Outrage, “if one didn’t do anything that wasn’t worth doing well—why, what would one do?” ...Certainly an enhanced capacity for self-delusion is a valuable attribute for the writer in nurturing both his fictional characters and, often enough, his own… ...The priest is the guardian of mysteries, the artist is driven to expose them. The manifest difference between them is that the writer is a teller of secrets who grapples with his audience one reader, one page at a time; where the priest engages the collective delusion of his entire congregation all at once… ...“Life was not a valuable gift,” in Mark Twain’s view, but “death was man’s best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free… ...In short, “Who do you believe?” Groucho Marx asked. “Me? or your own eyes?”... ...What’s any artist but the dregs of his work? The human shambles that follows it around.” ...We are living today in the market-driven Age of Imitation predicted by Walter Benjamin in which art is produced to be imitated, and where frequently enough we remember who did it last rather than who did it first...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Javier Avilés

    Siempre querremos más Gaddis. Es sorprendente la agudeza que tenía para señalar problemas sociales que todavía siguen vigentes. Aún así no es un libro que deban leer los que no han leído las cinco obras maestras de Gaddis. Esto no es más que un suplemento que nos recuerda lo mucho que extrañaremos siempre la sensación impactante de leer sus novelas. Brutal su alocución al recibir el NBA por Jota Erre.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tuck

    this is a bit of a hodge podge of gaddis writing. some speeches he gave, some notes he was keeping for "player piano", so political observations. he was a seemingly crusty grumpy old man. i love it, and emulate that, and its fascinating to see "behind" the writing room door a bit. there should be statues of william gaddis. this is a bit of a hodge podge of gaddis writing. some speeches he gave, some notes he was keeping for "player piano", so political observations. he was a seemingly crusty grumpy old man. i love it, and emulate that, and its fascinating to see "behind" the writing room door a bit. there should be statues of william gaddis.

  12. 5 out of 5

    E. C. Koch

    What Both Flesh and Not is to Wallace The Rush for Second Place is to Gaddis with a minor difference being that Wallace was a far more enthusiastic (and gifted) non-fiction writer. This collection of miscellany is, sadly, predictably, weak tea compared to Gaddis' quadruple-espresso novels, though getting to hear his non-fic. voice was neat. And it's neat too to get a (very very small) glimpse into how persistent certain themes/symbols were to Gaddis, which come up again and again in his work. Ye What Both Flesh and Not is to Wallace The Rush for Second Place is to Gaddis with a minor difference being that Wallace was a far more enthusiastic (and gifted) non-fiction writer. This collection of miscellany is, sadly, predictably, weak tea compared to Gaddis' quadruple-espresso novels, though getting to hear his non-fic. voice was neat. And it's neat too to get a (very very small) glimpse into how persistent certain themes/symbols were to Gaddis, which come up again and again in his work. Yet here, that obsession, which makes his fiction so good, reads as annoyingly repetitive and self-plagiaristic. I guess what I was hoping for were pieces that informed me about Gaddis' own approach or his take on the contemporary literary climate, but really that's all in his novels, revealing more starkly than I'd like the reality that this exactly what we all know it to be: A vehicle for profiting from Gaddis' death. This is for Gaddis superfans and completists only. Really, go read The Recognitions instead.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Feels unfair to give this a real rating, given that it's a posthumously published collection of "everything else" by Gaddis. But there are gems here, especially in the title essay and "Old Foes with New Faces." "And mounted against that enemy—billions upon billions of dollars and nine years hence at best—if the vast Bugs Bunny concept of the MX missile launching system comes into being, and someone drops a wrench into its innards, an error into its computers, or an item of 'disinformation'—a sim Feels unfair to give this a real rating, given that it's a posthumously published collection of "everything else" by Gaddis. But there are gems here, especially in the title essay and "Old Foes with New Faces." "And mounted against that enemy—billions upon billions of dollars and nine years hence at best—if the vast Bugs Bunny concept of the MX missile launching system comes into being, and someone drops a wrench into its innards, an error into its computers, or an item of 'disinformation'—a simple lie will probably do—will anyone be left to sing the day's hit song, 'Yes, We Have No Mañanas'? Will anyone have been accountable? And will it, any of it, have been worth doing well?"

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    3.5 for completionists

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Armstrong

    William Gaddis is one of my three top writers of the past 50 years (Pynchon, Gaddis, Wallace - the Pantheon). So, after I had gone through his fiction, there was nowhere else to turn but his nonfiction and his letters. This collection of essays is quite uneven in quality, and I must say, his nonfiction narrative style tends to be bottom heavy as far as his sentences go (e.g. long predicates etc.). The way I was characterizing it to myself was that he writes nonfiction grammatically like someone William Gaddis is one of my three top writers of the past 50 years (Pynchon, Gaddis, Wallace - the Pantheon). So, after I had gone through his fiction, there was nowhere else to turn but his nonfiction and his letters. This collection of essays is quite uneven in quality, and I must say, his nonfiction narrative style tends to be bottom heavy as far as his sentences go (e.g. long predicates etc.). The way I was characterizing it to myself was that he writes nonfiction grammatically like someone who slants his cursive writing at a sharp angle in the opposite direction that you'd expect, giving a sense of being off-balance. But having said this, there was much in this collection to delight in. His comments about art and mechanization were very compelling to me, as I had just finished Walter Benjamin's famous essay on ''The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction'' which got me thinking a lot about how the authenticity of art has been mangled by the machine. I realized why Gaddis' first book was about forgery and his last book about the player piano (art and music forgery, respectively). Only you no longer call it forgery when it can be so easily duplicated (forgery actually has an element of ''aura'' about it, to use Benjamin's phrase - the ill repute of the forger, the setting of his forgery, his skill as a forger etc.). All of Gaddis' concerns about American capitalism, consumerism, imperialism, the unthinking need to ''win'' in our culture (hence the ironic title of his essays) resonate deeply within me. I really enjoyed the appendix with all of his loose notes and clippings about the encroaching insipidness of American culture. I was glad to see golf listed - I'd like to know more from him about this - I'm featuring it as America's insipid pastime in my just finished novel. I really wished I could have known Gaddis - he seems like he'd have been an unbelievable conversationalist. I also enjoyed his views on the writer - who should be read and not seen or heard -- even though like most writers, I've been sucked into the cult of personality and wince at not being listed in Wikipedia etc. despite my 15 books (I'm sure there's an epidemic of writers like me who have this ailment). Like David Foster Wallace, Gaddis is concerned about a culture that is entertaining itself to death, and like Pynchon, he has a fascination with the depersonalization of computers and programming (Cf. Bleeding Edge). I'll just finish with a great quote picked out of my underlining. "....a society where failure can reside in simply not being a ''success'' holds its most ignominious defeats in store for those--we call them ''losers'' -- who fail at something that was not worth doing in the first place.'' Let's all queue up, then, for that opportunity to go for the 2nd place ribbon!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    It's odd reading something fairly light by Gaddis -- his novels are both thick and dense, and while I've always enjoyed them, it's generally taken me several days of reading to truly enter into them. Polishing off a book of short essays, speeches, reviews, and other marginalia in a couple of hours thus feels a little weird -- it's got the Gaddis-content, but it's not quite the Gaddis-experience. With that said, there's certainly a fair bit that's illuminating here; Gaddis' meditations on art, the It's odd reading something fairly light by Gaddis -- his novels are both thick and dense, and while I've always enjoyed them, it's generally taken me several days of reading to truly enter into them. Polishing off a book of short essays, speeches, reviews, and other marginalia in a couple of hours thus feels a little weird -- it's got the Gaddis-content, but it's not quite the Gaddis-experience. With that said, there's certainly a fair bit that's illuminating here; Gaddis' meditations on art, the state, and technology deepen my understanding of his fiction, and certainly serve to humanize the distant, somewhat godlike authorial picture I've internalized from reading the novels. This isn't always a pleasant thing, mind, for example in what the book says about Gaddis' views towards religion -- one of the things I most enjoyed about the Recognitions was the way Gaddis paints the allure of the Romish religion with a peculiarly Protestant mix of skepticism and temptation, but that sensitivity towards faith seems to recede from his later writing. Per the introduction, that's partly because Gaddis lost his faith, and the essay on religion in this volume disappointingly reads like it could have been written by any liberal with a bone to pick with the Christian Coalition. Beyond the pieces which directly illuminate his novels, there are some pieces of marginalia and ephemera which are enjoyable for themselves -- speeches praising other writers, mock-ups and excerpts from some of the business writing he did -- but don't leave much of a difference. A grab-bag, then, and valuable to those who are already interested and invested in Gaddis, but certainly not a place to start.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    proof positive that the only thing stopping Gaddis from ending on a perfect streak was his obsession with the fucking player piano. like why didn't u just read 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' and call it quits dawg. this even aside from the fact that the grand statement of his thoughts -- that mass communicable art is bad because individual talent and struggle is rendered obsolete and art is damaged is so callow and elitist AND it's like lots of composers (see: Conlon Nan proof positive that the only thing stopping Gaddis from ending on a perfect streak was his obsession with the fucking player piano. like why didn't u just read 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' and call it quits dawg. this even aside from the fact that the grand statement of his thoughts -- that mass communicable art is bad because individual talent and struggle is rendered obsolete and art is damaged is so callow and elitist AND it's like lots of composers (see: Conlon Nancarrow, Julius Eastman) used the player piano to interesting, new effect in the vein of the classical music Gaddis so clearly venerates. dude should have left his house more. the 'sequel' to J.R. is gr8 tho

  18. 4 out of 5

    Маx Nestelieiev

    nice pieces. very helpful for those ones (like me) who try to understand his writing style (to create a good translation). also a great help for clarifying his outlook. but his novels are much more beautiful than these nice pieces. btw he really had been quotations-possessed... (well you know `...begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tel nice pieces. very helpful for those ones (like me) who try to understand his writing style (to create a good translation). also a great help for clarifying his outlook. but his novels are much more beautiful than these nice pieces. btw he really had been quotations-possessed... (well you know `...begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[a] how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed`). and yes we all were amazed and are amazed with your holy SCRIPTURE, Willie.

  19. 4 out of 5

    أحمد الحقيل

    هنالك نزعة من المركزية في هذه الدراسات. ولا أعلم إن كان جديرا تسميتها بدراسات بالمعنى المتعارف عليه. صوت جاديس حاد وتلقيني وأحيانا وعظي. وأنا أكتب الجملة السابقة تبدو أكثر غرابة، أن يكون جاديس هكذا فعلا. معقول؟ ربما تحتاج إلى اطلاع آخر حينما أتعمق في قراءة الرجل أكثر، فلم اقرأ له سوى عمل واحد.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jack Bernardi

    Interesting material if you want to learn more about Gaddis as a person or flesh out some of the ideas central to his writing, but ultimately tangential to his body of work as a whole

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jayden gonzalez

    gaddis writes the same essay over and over

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Short but brilliant essays on the state of the State or, as Gaddis calls it, a "collective fiction" (referring to the State). Short but brilliant essays on the state of the State or, as Gaddis calls it, a "collective fiction" (referring to the State).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luke Dwyer

  24. 5 out of 5

    Diego

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  26. 4 out of 5

    J.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Taylor

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily Blakely

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  30. 5 out of 5

    Casey

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...