The latest issue of The Quarterly Conversation has landed "with essays on Nobel laureate Herta Mueller, Jonathan Swift, Per Petterson, and more, plus 19 reviews, includin William Gaddis, Jose Manuel Prieto, and Gilbert Sorrentino, and interviews with David Shields and others."

They also have an all-new blog: "The Constant Conversation [has] a group of contributors drawn from TQC's ranks, the site delivers book news, reviews, and fresh links every day."

Readers Comments

  1. Thanks for this link, Mark - I'm very much looking forward to reading Point Omega. I think that the late works of DeLillo - The Body Artist, Falling Man, &, to a slightly lesser extent, Cosmopolis - are remarkable, & a fine exemplar of the principle of "late style" discussed by Said & Kermode amongst others.

    However - the review of the Gaddis critical collection is disappointing. The snapshots of the various critical essays provided by the reviewer; & the reviewer's own essay; reveal a "thinness", a lack of critical ambition, a kind of workaday dullness, that stands as an indictment of contemporary academic criticism. I wonder if I'm right in thinking that Gaddis is neither well read in general, nor well served by literary critics?

  2. I've only read "Agape, Agape" and have little recall of it. In my head it is in a "good, but expected better" pot! A straw poll of close-to-hand literary friends suggests to me that Gaddis is certainly not well read (well, not in the UK; perhaps this is different in the US?) As to the secondary literature on him and his work, I've not read any at all so can't comment. I would be interested if anyone out there can make a compelling case for me to pick up his other (massive) books...

  3. I've read 'em all, Mark - well, all of them except JR (which is probably the most timely with respect to the current 'crisis of capitalism'). The Recognitions is a magnificently written meditation on art, on truth & illusion, on forgery, & on ideals & idealism. Carpenter's Gothic feels closer in spirit & execution to the fictional world of Pynchon (circa Vineland). A Frolic of His Own takes on justice, or, at any rate, the law, & the US culture of endless litigation. If Underworld is DeLillo's response to Our Mutual Friend, then I guess Frolic is Gaddis' response to Bleak House. I loved it! Like JR, it is written almost entirely in dialogue - and the voices live & breathe with a sparkling reality. I remember hearing clear echoes of the voices in my mind's ear for days & weeks afterwards. Agape, Agape is a minor work, pulled together very late in his life. It gestures towards many of the themes that work through his major works, but ultimately isn't particularly representative.

    I think it would be going too far to argue that you couldn't get a full appreciation of the works of writers like Foster Wallace, Powers or Franzen, for instance, without seriously engaging with Gaddis...though he clearly exerts a profound influence on their work. On the other hand, he marries something of the seriousness of DeLillo's artistic endeavour to the compendious playfulness of Pynchon, whilst, for me, going beyond the achievements of either. That said, & as I noted above, I feel entranced by DeLillo's late style, & all that it is enabling him to achieve, both stylistically and thematically...a development which was denied to Gaddis.

    There - now off you go & squeeze a couple of hundred pages in, between your daily digestion of the bard!

  4. I've read all of Gaddis, except for Agape (I have, however, fortuitously read its afterword, which led me to Bernhard's Concrete, and here we are...). I agree with Robin that the QC piece is weak (including its gratuitous swipes at Wm. Gass), but the book itself doesn't sound terribly interesting to me either. With Gaddis, it's primarily the sheer overwhelming music of the voices, esp. in JR & Frolic (the latter was my first). There is perhaps too much in The Recognitions, but I don't hold it against him. Many beautiful pages, much that is borderline impenetrable, fascinating stuff on art and authenticity, etc.

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