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A great masterpiece by William Gaddis, with a new introduction by Rick Moody.

Winner of the 1976 National Book Award, J R is a biting satire about the many ways in which capitalism twists the American spirit into something more dangerous, yet pervasive and unassailable. At the center of the novel is a hilarious eleven year old—J R—who with boyish enthusiasm turns a few basic lessons in capitalist principles, coupled with a young boy's lack of conscience, into a massive and exploitative paper empire. The result is one of the funniest and most disturbing stories ever told about the corruption of the American dream.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781564784339
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date: 02/07/2012
Series: American Literature (Dalkey Archive) Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 725
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Gaddis stands among the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. The winner of two National Book Awards (for J R [1976] and A Frolic of His Own [1995]), he wrote five novels during his lifetime, including Carpenter's Gothic (1985), Agap Agape (published posthumously in 2002), and his early masterpiece The Recognitions (1955). He is loved and admired for his stylistic innovations, his unforgettable characters, his pervasive humor, and the breadth of his intellect and vision.

Rick Moody is an acclaimed American novelist and short story writer.

Date of Birth:

December 29, 1922

Date of Death:

December 17, 1998

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

East Hampton, New York


Attended Harvard University (no degree)

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J R 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've long been struck by the irony that the most avid readers of literary novels seem to have been virtually ignored by American publishers who cater to the mainstream. Sad to say but American publishing's mindless fixation with mediocre mainstream fiction has had an obliterating effect on American literary culture. Masterpieces exist but America is nearly totally oblivious to the talents of her greatest contemporary writers. Americans can't get enough of their best-selling, empty-headed, sell-out hacks. So, God Bless Penguin for having the good sense to bring to light, even belatedly, this breakthrough literary novel by a supremely gifted writer. The style of the novel is based upon stream-of-voice: it's akin to walking down 5th Avenue and overhearing parts of conversations of passersby. The net effect is that the reader is compelled to become engaged by virtue of the context, style and story line of unidentified speakers until their voices become familiar. Until the reader succeeds in identifying the voices, the novel seems absurdly abstract. Like many great 20th century novels JR does appear incomprehensible at the outset until the reader discovers a roadmap to navigate this vast stream of voices. If life is order disguised as chaos, then JR is the very height of verisimilitude as there is a reality inherent in this novel that is breakthrough by virute of its style and intricately woven in its storyline. This stream-of-voice in a sense captures the fine art of the ancient oral tradition of story-telling starting with Homer. Jose Saramago in Blindness experimented in a similar way in his novel of discovery and so does Joyce in Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. JR is an important novel by an obscure literary novelist worthy of the small but devoted readership of which it has become my privilege to join. I have also read and highly recommend The Recognitions. If you are a serious reader of literary novels, then you owe it to yourself to read Gaddis. His novels are a national treasure: one only hopes that some day soon the nation will properly recognize the true genius of Gaddis in JR.
EnriqueFreeque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you thought David Foster Wallace wrote obscenely long convoluted sentences, try reading this two pound behemoth that has not one (not one I tell you!) chapter break in its entirety. It's like reading The Neverending Paragraph. If that sounds daunting enough, factor in that the narrative is ninety per cent dialogue, only the dialogue doesn't increase reading speed because it's dialogue that Gaddis has purposely not clearly delineated who's speaking what to whom ninety-nine per cent of the time (sound confusing, try reading it) for one must deduce who's speaking without any he said/she saids to help you sort it all out, similar to the unspecified-as-to-who's-speaking-dialogue featured in "A Clean, Well Lighted Place," only J R, mind you, is not a ten page short story by Hemingway, but a 752 page menacing gargoyle of a novel comprising vast Himalayan-like exchanges of dialogue and it takes at times the concentration or meditation of a Tibetan monk to decipher what it all means, let alone figuring out who's speaking. It's scary to face, yes, and it's hard keeping track of who said what to who what where when why and how, true, and it mocks the comprehension of one accustomed to instant gratification in light easy reading, but other than that, it's a real breeze. A nice cool refreshing breeze after running a marathon.And since it's about money and capitalism gone so wild and satirically haywire that even a precocious elementary school kid working a payphone at recess as if he were a bookie, or working a payphone out on a school field trip to the local stock exchange can become a zillionaire practically overnight on stocks and bonds, it's quite topical to boot given the present state of our abysmal and, some might argue, broken economy run into the ground by children dressed up all nice and spiffy as if they were genuine businessmen and women not certainly seeking to go Ponzi on an all too gullible American public willing to buy anything. It's funny too, and not quite as depressing as our abysmal and, some might argue, broken economy run into the ground by children dressed up all nice and spiffy as if they were genuine businessmen and women not certainly seeking to go Ponzi on an all too gullible American public willing to buy anything. So stop overlooking William Gaddis and I'll stop being redundant, wordy, and pontificating, too. Just put down the Pynchon for a sec and give this neglected great master postmodernist whom Pynchon actually looked up to once upon a time in his young'n days before "V" had been conceived -- and the 1976 National Book Award Winner for crying out loud -- the larger audience he finally deserves.
abirdman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A superb book, oddly insightful of emerging money centered popular culture.
TonyT2 More than 1 year ago
One of the century's greatest novels, easily the equal of Bely's Petersburg. No tension here, though, unless you take corporate America as seriously as the very silly J R Vasant and Jack Gibbs. At least J R has mastered the game, unlike the adults in his life, as he builds his paper empire by trading up from worthless goods and penny stocks to assets of greater value. A trenchant satire of the American Dream even more relevant today than when it was first published.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I am glad to see this book back in print, as it is one of my favorite novels of all time. Should be required reading for anyone with a literary degree who ends up working on Wall Street.