. His works include
William Gaddis was born in Manhattan
. He attended Harvard
but did not obtain a degree. After working as a fact checker
at The New Yorker
, he traveled extensively and wrote his first novel. The Recognitions
, nearly a thousand pages long, uses the theme of art forgery
as a metaphor for larger fraud
s in the social and political worlds. Although Gaddis expected it to make a name for him, it was very poorly received by critics
Journalist Jack Green
was so upset by this reaction that he wrote a 70-page diatribe on novel
reviewers and entitled it Fire the Bastards!
In part due to the reaction to his first novel, it took Gaddis twenty years to publish again. In the interim, The Recognitions had been slowly but steadily gaining admirers. J R won the National Book Award in 1976 which hastened the reevaluation of the earlier work.
Gaddis’s third novel in thirty years, Carpenter’s Gothic, was greeted with even warmer praise. Because it was only some 200 pages long, it managed to enter the consciousness of the general book-buying public.
A Frolic of his Own again won the National Book Award in 1995, and has proven his most popular and accessible work. It has as its theme the culture of litigation in America.
Gaddis was working on Agapé Agape at the time of his death. This was originally planned as a nonfiction history of the player piano but was later converted to a dramatic monologue. It is unclear as of August 2001 whether or not the part of the work that is completed will be published posthumously.