Over at the LARBlog, I’ve written a pair of posts announcing the start of #OccupyGaddis, a collective summer reading of William Gaddis’s monumental 1975 novel, J R. From my original post:
First, get yourself a copy of the J R, either at your local bookstore, your local megachain, online, an unusually literate yard sale, or–you’d better hurry, before it’s privatized–your local public library.
J R is a long book — 725 dense pages — but our pace will be relaxed. If you read an average of 10 pages a day, you’ll finish by August 30. Here goes the tentative schedule I’ve set for myself:
June 29: pp. 150
July 15: pp. 300
July 31: pp. 460
August 15: pp. 610
August 26: done!
Easy, right? That’s only 75 pp. a week, which’ll leave you plenty of time to enjoy the summer weather, take a vacation, watch the new season of Breaking Bad and recover from the season finales of Girls, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones. As you read, you can refer to these annotations of J R, which will clarify who is speaking in the scenes we’re reading, and explicate what’s going on.
Today, a second blog post has gone up about William Gaddis’s relationship to failure. A snippet:
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.
Hope you can get on board. If you don’t have a copy of J R you can read the first ten pages for free online while you dig yourself up a paper or electronic copy.