#OccupyGaddis begins today. Time to pull that neglected Penguin Classics edition of J R off the shelf, or pick up the handsome new edition from Dalkey Archive, or, if you’re lucky enough, gently reread your first edition (jacket pictured). However you must, join us for LARB’s summer reading challenge of J R, winner of the 1976 National Book Award. Follow #OccupyGaddis, and read regular musings here at the LARBlog, from #OccupyGaddis creator and host, Lee Konstantinou.
In a New York Times review of Carpenter’s Gothic (1985), Cynthia Ozick described William Gaddis as “famous for not being famous enough.”
Indeed, more than twenty-five years since Ozick wrote her review, Gaddis may still be our most important unread novelist. He’s widely considered a master of American fiction (he won two National Book Awards and a MacArthur “Genius Grant”), is frequently namechecked as a foundational postmodernist writer, but is rarely discussed at length. Even literary scholars, those lovers of the abstruse and the difficult, hardly talk about him. A 2007 edited collection on Gaddis, Paper Empire: William Gaddis and the World System, has only been cited a few times since its publication, and the number of hits Gaddis’s name brings up on the MLA International Database is an order of magnitude lower than what one finds when searching for his peers, like Thomas Pynchon.
My only issue with #occupygaddis is that The Recognitions is a far better novel than JR.