What J R Documents

Interesting piece on William Gaddis’ J R by Lee Konstantinou at the LARB. Now that you’re getting close to finishing The Tunnel (if you’re reading it), maybe this is your next big book:

I’d suggest that what J R documents is the way that America is hollowing out the foundation necessary to even read a book like it, an America that teaches its children via closed-circuit television, an America that thinks democracy means owning a share of profit-maximizing publicly traded corporations. This is what it means to say that J R is about the conditions underlying the impossibility of its own reception. If there were a welcoming mass public for books like this, a public able to appreciate its beautiful difficulty and astonishing imagination, we wouldn’t live in the sort of world so in need of savage satirical critique in the first place.

Although I would disagree with Lee that “Unlike Pynchon — who is more concerned in his classic postmodern novels with how entropy operates in thermodynamics and information theory — Gaddis means entropy to be a metaphor for the din of American life and the ‘free enterprise’ system.” I think Pynchon’s take on entropy has very much to do with critiquing the American system.

Also see William Gaddis, the Last Protestant by John Lingan at The Quarterly Conversation.


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