The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings

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9780142002384: The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings

William Gaddis published only four novels during his lifetime, but with those works he earned himself a reputation as one of America's greatest novelists. Less well known is Gaddis's body of excellent critical writings. Here is a wide range of his original essays, some published for the first time. From "'Stop Player. Joke No. 4,'" Gaddis's first national publication and the basis for his projected history of the player piano, to the title essay about missed opportunities in America during the past fifty years, to "Old Foes with New Faces," an examination of the relationship between the writer and the problem of religion-this diverse collection displays the power of an autonomous literary intelligence in an age increasingly dominated by political and religious conservatism.

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About the Author:

William Gaddis (1922-1998) was a master of the American novel who was frequently compared with Joyce, Nabokov, and Pynchon. Two of his novels, J R and A Frolic of His Own, won the National Book Award. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the recipient of a MacArthur Prize.
Joseph Tabbi was the first scholar to be given access to the Gaddis archives. He conducts research in American literature and new media writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Joseph Tabbi was the first scholar to be given access to the Gaddis archives. He conducts research in American literature and new media writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

From Booklist:

Criticism is integral to William Gaddis' (1922-98) referential fiction, and he also wrote tonic critical essays spiked with a parodic wit, never-before-collected and invaluable works that Gaddis scholar Joseph Tabbi ably sets in literary and biographical context. Gaddis is particularly rousing in his skewering of the corporate world, a realm he infiltrated while writing for Eastman Kodak and IBM, and he takes on with equal mettle the Protestant work ethic and its shaping of the military-industrial complex, and the plight of art in a culture of pragmatism. Fascinated and appalled by the complexity, hypocrisy, and fever of American life, Gaddis concludes that we're all in this craziness together, "we are all in the same line of business: that of concocting, arranging, and peddling fictions to get us safely through the night." Donna Seaman
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