“Saul Steinberg, the artist, said one of the major problems for the creative person is to avoid boredom. . . . If I’m bored, the reader is bored. There are writers that we know—we needn’t name them—I don’t understand why they don’t die of boredom at the typewriter. And they sell millions of copies.” William Gaddis in conversation with Malcolm Bradbury, on the occasion of the publication of Carpenter’s Gothic.
Dalkey Archive, publisher of new editions of both The Recognitions and J R, is doing their 10 books for $65/20 books for $120 winter sale right now. Be not bored.
Dalkey Archive Press has just reissused two of the most important texts of the past sixty years–William Gaddis’s The Recognitions and JR. Introductions are by William H. Gass and Rick Moody.
The Seven Deadly Sins - Hieronymus Bosch (oil on wood panels) - one of the copies Wyatt makes
It took nearly five months but I managed to read all the words in William Gaddis’s The Recognitions. In honor of Old Masters use of triptych (Wyatt, the main character forges old Flemish paintings), this is the third in a series about reading the novel. The first concerning descriptions of the sun and the second concerning his use of dialogue.
(First post on The Recognitions)
In the middle of this wonderful book, many characters are running around trying to one up most everyone else–most significantly the character Recktall Brown (yes, Recktall Brown) has the forger Wyatt making false masterpieces of 500 year old Flemish Art. But Otto, the failed and flailing playwright, in love with a willowy heroin addict Esme, takes on more of a pivotal role in the middle of the book.
This will be the first in what may prove to be several installments on this tome by William Gaddis. Yes, it’s 954 pages (Penguin edition). Yes, it’s astounding. I urge you to put aside all else and read this novel.
Another author’s first rule on writing is to ‘Never open a book with weather.’ While it seems there is no place for surgical instructions in creation (especially commandments beginning with Never–three of the ten do), Mr. Gaddis (as so many before him) uses our friend the sun to great effect. Continue reading
He was the only person caught in the collapse, and afterward, most of his work was recovered too, and it is still spoken of, when it is noted, with high regard, though seldom played.
— William Gaddis, the last line of The Recognitions