Mr. Troublesome: William Gaddis and the Downside of Onerous-to-Learn Books (2002)

Mr. Troublesome: William Gaddis and the Downside of Onerous-to-Learn Books (2002)

The next essay by Jonathan Franzen appeared in The New Yorker. The next textual content has been
transcribed from the 30 September 2002 problem.


Mr. Troublesome: William Gaddis
and the Downside of
Onerous-to-Learn Books


Jonathan Franzen


For some time final winter, after my third novel
got here out, I used to be getting lots of indignant mail from strangers. What upset them was
not the novel a comedy a few household in disaster however some impolitic remarks I would
made within the press, and I knew that it was a mistake to ship greater than bland
one-sentence notes in reply. However I could not assist combating again a little bit. Taking
a web page from an previous literary hero of mine, William Gaddis, who had lengthy deplored
the studying public’s confusion of the author’s work and the author’s personal
self, I steered that the letter writers have a look at my fiction moderately than pay attention
to distorted information experiences about its creator.

A couple of months later, one of many unique senders, a Mrs. M, in Maryland, wrote
again with proof that she’d finished the studying. She started by itemizing thirty fancy
phrases and phrases from my novel, phrases like “diurnality” and
“antipodes,” phrases like “electro-pointillist Santa Claus
faces.” She then posed the dreadful query: “Who’s it that you’re
writing for? It certainly couldn’t be the typical one who simply enjoys a superb
learn.” And she or he provided this caricature of me and my presumed viewers:

The elite of New York, the elite who’re lovely, skinny, anorexic, neurotic,
subtle, do not smoke, have abortions tri-yearly, are antiseptic, stay in
lofts or penthouses, this superior species of humanity who learn Harper’s
and The New Yorker.

The subtext appeared to be that problem in fiction is the device of socially
privileged readers and writers who flip up their noses on the pure pleasure
of a “good learn” in favor of the invidious, synthetic pleasure of
feeling superior to different folks. To Mrs. M, I used to be “a pompous snob, and a
actual ass-hole.”

One a part of me, the half that takes after my father, who admired students for
their mind and their massive vocabularies and was one thing of a scholar
himself, needed to name Mrs. M a number of names in reply. However one other, equally
sturdy a part of me was stricken to study that Mrs. M felt excluded by my
language. She sounded a little bit bit like my mom, a lifelong anti-elitist who
used to get good rhetorical mileage out of the legendary “common
individual.” My mom may need requested me if I actually had to make use of phrases like
“diurnality,” or if I used to be simply exhibiting off.

Within the face of hostility like Mrs. M’s, I discover myself paralyzed. It seems
that I subscribe to 2 wildly totally different fashions of how fiction pertains to its
viewers. In a single mannequin, which was championed by Flaubert, the very best novels are
nice artistic endeavors, the individuals who handle to put in writing them deserve extraordinary
credit score, and if the typical reader rejects the work it is as a result of the typical
reader is a philistine; the worth of any novel, even a mediocre one, exists
impartial of how many individuals are in a position to admire it. We are able to name this the
Standing mannequin. It invitations a discourse of genius and art-historical significance.

Within the opposing mannequin, a novel represents a compact between the author and the
reader, with the author offering phrases out of which the reader creates a
pleasurable expertise. Writing thus entails a balancing of self-expression and
communication inside a gaggle, whether or not the group consists of “Finnegans
Wake” fanatics or followers of Barbara Cartland. Each author is first a
member of a group of readers, and the deepest objective of studying and writing
fiction is to maintain a way of connectedness, to withstand existential
loneliness; and so a novel deserves a reader’s consideration solely so long as the
creator sustains the reader’s belief. That is the Contract mannequin. The discourse
right here is one in every of pleasure and connection. My mom would have favored it.

To an adherent of Contract, the Standing crowd appears like an smug
connoisseurial elite. To a real believer in Standing, however, Contract
is a recipe for pandering, aesthetic compromise, and a babel of competing
literary subcommunities. With sure novels, in fact, the excellence does not
matter a lot. “Pleasure and Prejudice,” “The Home of Mirth”:
you name them artwork, I name them leisure, we each flip the pages. However the
two fashions diverge tellingly when readers discover a e book tough.

In response to the Contract mannequin, problem is an indication of bother. In probably the most
grievous circumstances, it could convict an creator of inserting his egocentric creative
imperatives or his private self-importance forward of the viewers’s reliable need to
be entertained of being, in different phrases, an asshole. Taken to its free-market
excessive, Contract stipulates that if a product is unpleasant to you the fault
have to be the product’s. When you crack a tooth on a tough phrase in a novel, you sue
the creator. In case your professor places Dreiser in your studying record, you write a
harsh scholar analysis. If the native symphony performs an excessive amount of twentieth-century
music, you cancel your subscription. You are the buyer; you rule.

From a Standing perspective, problem tends to sign excellence; it suggests
that the novel’s creator has disdained low-cost compromise and stayed true to an
creative imaginative and prescient. Simple fiction has little worth, the argument goes. Pleasure that
calls for exhausting work, the gradual penetration of thriller, the outlasting of lesser
readers, is the pleasure most price having; and if, like Mrs. M, you’ll be able to’t
hack it, then to hell with you.

The Standing place is undeniably flattering to the author’s sense of
significance. In my bones, although, I am a Contract type of individual. I grew up in a
pleasant, egalitarian suburb studying books for pleasure and ignoring any author
who did not take my leisure severely sufficient. Whilst an grownup, I contemplate
myself a slattern of a reader. I’ve began (in lots of circumstances, greater than as soon as)
“Moby-Dick,” “The Man With out Qualities,” “Mason &
Dixon,” “Don Quixote,” “Remembrance of Issues Previous,”
“Physician Faustus,” “Bare Lunch,” “The Golden
Bowl,” and “The Golden Pocket book” with out coming anyplace close to
ending them. Certainly, by a snug margin, probably the most tough e book I ever
voluntarily learn in its entirety was Gaddis’s nine-hundred-and-fifty-six-page
first novel, “The Recognitions.”

Gaddis, whose final two books are being printed this fall, 4 years after his
dying, would have been eighty this December. As a lot as any American author of
his technology, he frankly endorsed Standing and disdained Contract. His strategies
had been more and more postmodern, however he had old school Romantic and high-modern
notions of the artist as savior and the murals as singular and sacred; the
plight of each artwork and artist in a commercially mad America was on the heart of
his work. Which work is, itself, quintessentially tough.

I learn “The Recognitions” as a type of penance, again within the early
nineties. Through the earlier yr, whereas my father, in a unique time zone,
was dropping his thoughts, I would written two therapies and 4 full drafts of an
“unique” screenplay. In lieu of precise greenback funds, I had the
enthusiastic assist of a Hollywood agent who, out of pity or negligence, by no means
talked about that my story bore a deadly resemblance to “Enjoyable with Dick and
Jane,” which I hadn’t seen. My story had double and triple crosses and
characters who used prosthetic make-up to impersonate different characters. I lived
in that state of rage which comes of doing sustained work that you realize to be
shoddy and dishonest. By September, after I lastly deserted the mission, one
wall of my research was scuffed and dented from the pencils, scripts, footwear, and
telephone books I would been throwing at it. I borrowed cash and left Philadelphia to
sublet a darkish, underfurnished Tribeca loft (sure, Mrs. M, a loft), whose
silence was disturbed solely by the shadowy site visitors of pigeons within the air shaft.
I would been hoping to put in writing some fiction, however I used to be far too sick of
audience-friendly narrative, of well-made plots and lovable characters. One
night, in a state of grim distraction, like any individual going out to attain exhausting
medicine, I walked up Sixth Avenue and purchased “The Recognitions” in a
lovely, newly reissued Penguin version.

Each morning for per week and a half, I went from the breakfast desk to a beige
ultrasuede couch module, turned on a lamp, and browse continuous for six or eight
hours. I had some skilled curiosity about Gaddis, however a number of hundred pages
of “The Recognitions” would have glad it. I sat and browse the
further seven hundred pages in one thing like a fugue state, as if planting my
toes on a steep slope, climbing. I used to be reluctant to depart my ultrasuede perch
for any cause. The one method I may justify sitting there and spending borrowed
cash was to make an everyday job, with common hours, out of climbing the
mountain.

There have been quotations in Latin, Spanish, Hungarian, and 6 different languages to
be rappelled throughout. Blizzards of obscure references swirled round sheer cliffs
of erudition, precipitous discourses on alchemy and Flemish portray, Mithraism
and early-Christian theology. The prose got here in page-long paragraphs by which
oxygen was at a premium, and the emotional temperature of the novel began chilly
and obtained colder. The hero, Wyatt Gwyon, was likable as a baby (“a small
disgruntled individual”), however in any other case the creator’s satiric judgments and
mental obsessions discouraged intimacy. It was a wrestle to determine
what, and even who, the story was about; dialogue was punctuated with dashes and
largely unattributed; Wyatt himself dwindled to a furtive, seldom-glimpsed
pronoun (“he”); there got here brutish get together scenes, all-dialogue phrase
storms that raged for scores of pages. The one moveable nourishment that may
have helped maintain me on my climb was a familiarity with Gaddis’s influences,
possibly a pleasant pemmican of T. S. Eliot and Robert Graves, which I hadn’t thought
to carry. I used to be alone and unprepared on a steep-sided, frigid, airless, poorly
mapped mountain. Did I already point out that “The Recognitions” has
9 hundred and fifty-six pages?

However I beloved it. On the novel’s hidden pinnacle, behind its clouds of subsidiary
symbolism, past its blind canyons of Beat anti-narrative, is a narrative in regards to the
lack of private integrity and the tough work of regaining it. Wyatt, a
proficient painter and former seminarian in his early thirties, resides in New
York, unhappily married, and scraping by as a employed draftsman. He has deserted
his painterly ambitions, presumably as a result of a corrupt French critic panned his
early work, however extra possible as a result of he’s extremely earnest and has by no means discovered
an sufficient reply to the condemnation of artwork which a puritanical great-aunt
issued in his boyhood: “Our Lord is the one true creator, and solely sinful
folks attempt to emulate Him.” In the future, in New York, an American capitalist
and artwork collector named Recktall Brown proposes a Faustian cut price: Wyatt will
forge the work of Flemish Outdated Masters, and Brown will promote them for large sums.
Wyatt agrees to the deal, however after some early success he proves missing within the
obligatory spinelessness. He considers resuming his non secular research, however when
he goes residence to New England he discovers that his father, a Protestant minister,
has taken up Mithraism and misplaced his thoughts. Wyatt thereupon embarks on a protracted
pilgrimage of types, first in New York, the place he tries to reveal his personal
forgeries, and later in Europe. He’s final seen leaving a Spanish monastery, on
web page 900, intending, “finally, to stay intentionally.” Having
surmounted the American Protestant suspicion of artwork and survived the damaging
sights of the American Protestant market, he appears lastly on his method
to being an actual painter.

On the time, on the mountainside, I wasn’t acutely aware of clinging to the
parallels between Wyatt’s story and my very own state of affairs: our weirdly remoted lives
in decrease Manhattan, our failed makes an attempt to promote out, our extraordinarily earnest
doubts about artwork, our longing for penance, our loopy fathers. I used to be simply completely happy
to have a superb, exhausting e book to learn, and I used to be impressed with myself for managing
it. Following Wyatt’s pilgrimage grew to become my very own pilgrimage. The loft, for these
ten days, despite the gurgling pigeons, was the quietest place I’ve ever
been. It was profoundly, metaphysically quiet. By the point I reached the final
web page of “The Recognitions,” I felt readier to face the divorce,
deaths, and dislocations that had been ready for me out within the sunlit world. I
felt virtuous, as if I would run three miles, eaten my kale, been to the dentist,
filed my tax return, or gone to church.

One fairly good definition of school is that it is a spot the place persons are made
to learn tough books. Definitely, my very own moments of peak collegiate studying
occurred at any time when I acquired new instruments to unlock problem after I was pressured to
work out, all on my own, that Emily Dickinson generally meant the alternative of
what her phrases stated, or when my German professor requested us, with a mysterious
grin, whether or not it was potential that Josef Ok. was responsible. To study
irony, ambiguity, image, voice, and standpoint, it made sense to learn the
most subtle texts.

4 years of sophistication had a cumulative impact. As a freshman, I believed
it could be cool to make up tales for a residing, to have that be my job, to see
my identify in print. By the point I used to be a senior, my ambition was to create literary
Artwork. I took without any consideration that the best novels had been tough of their strategies,
resisted informal studying, and merited sustained research. I additionally assumed that the
highest praise this Artwork could possibly be paid was to be taught in a college.

My mother and father did not perceive this. Once I started to put in writing my first e book, after
faculty, I may really feel my father’s skeptical eye on me, may hear him asking
questions like “What are you contributing to society together with your
talents?” In faculty, I would admired Derrida and the Marxist and feminist
critics, folks whose job was to search out fault with trendy Programs. I believed that
possibly now I, too, may develop into socially helpful by writing fault-finding fiction.
On the wonderful public library in Somerville, Massachusetts, I recognized a
canon of mental, socially edgy white-male American fiction writers. The
identical names Pynchon, DeLillo, Heller, Coover, Gaddis, Gass, Burroughs, Barth,
Barthelme, Hannah, Hawkes, McElroy, and Elkin stored exhibiting up collectively in
anthologies and within the respectful value determinations of latest critics. Although
varied of their types, all of them appeared to take as a provided that one thing was
new and unusual and improper about postwar America. They shared the postmodern
suspicion of realism, summarized by the critic Jerome Klinkowitz: “If the
world is absurd, if what passes for actuality is distressingly unreal, why spend
time representing it?”

To show to myself, if to not my father, that I used to be engaged in a severe
skilled pursuit, I attempted to hitch this guild. I used to be a type of skinny
younger males in scary glasses and thrift-store garments whom you see on Boston or
Brooklyn subways, younger males who appear to be they possess huge quantities of knowledge
about small-label rock bands or avant-garde literature or video know-how, the
very dimension of those data-sets affording a type of psychic safety. And Gaddis
should have been my excellent. Gaddis, it was usually agreed, was the actually
good, actually indignant, actually forbidding Programs author. “The
Recognitions” was an ur-text of postwar fiction, each the granddaddy of
problem and the primary nice cultural critique, which, even when Heller and
Pynchon hadn’t learn it whereas composing “Catch-22” and “V.,”
managed to anticipate the spirit of each. Gaddis was the unique intense,
thrift-store-clad, monster-data-set younger man whose ambition, if he let it present
in public, would have singed his fellow subway riders’ eyebrows.

My downside was that, with a number of exceptions, notably Don DeLillo, I did not
significantly like the writers in my trendy canon. I checked out their
books (together with “The Recognitions”), learn a number of pages, and returned
them. I favored the concept of socially engaged fiction, I used to be at work on my
personal Programs novel of conspiracy and apocalypse, and I craved educational and
hipster respect of the type that Pynchon and Gaddis obtained and Saul Bellow and Ann
Beattie did not. However Bellow and Beattie, to not point out Dickens and Conrad and
Bronte and Dostoyevsky and Christina Stead, had been the writers I truly, unhiply
loved studying. If Coover’s “The Public Burning” and Pynchon’s
“The Crying of Lot 49” moved me, it was primarily as a result of I beloved
Coover’s character Richard Nixon and Pynchon’s Oedipa Maas. However postmodern
fiction wasn’t imagined to be about sympathetic characters. Characters, correctly
talking, weren’t even imagined to exist. Characters had been feeble, suspect
constructs, just like the creator himself, just like the human soul. Nonetheless, to my
disgrace, I appeared to want them.

It wasn’t till the nineties, after I would wasted a yr on the screenplay, that I
tried to rekindle my collegiate pleasure about actually exhausting books. I wanted
proof that I used to be a severe Artist, moderately than the unwitting plagiarist of
“Enjoyable with Dick and Jane,” and “The Recognitions” was excellent
for the duty. Studying the entire thing would additionally confer bragging rights. If
any individual requested me if I would learn “The Sot-Weed Issue,” I may shoot
again, No, however have you ever learn “The Recognitions”? And blow smoke from
the muzzle of my gun.

Within the occasion, nothing was as I would anticipated. Not many individuals within the nineties had been
asking if I would learn “The Sot-Weed Issue.” “The
Recognitions,” however whether or not due to its virtues or as a result of
of the circumstances of my studying it bowled me over. Its characters weren’t
sympathetic, however the wit and fervour and seriousness of their creator had been. I
titled my third novel partly in homage to it.

A couple of years after I conquered “The Recognitions,” I began Gaddis’s
second novel, “J R.” I once more purchased the good-looking Penguin paperback,
and I devoted an hour or two every night to studying it. The novel, a large
comedy of recent American venality and social entropy, was simply as sensible as
“The Recognitions.” Sadly, I not had the posh or
burden of complete days for studying. One evening, I gave up in the midst of a
four-page paragraph, and for the following few nights I used to be out late, and after I
opened “J R” once more I used to be misplaced. I set it apart, hoping to choose up the
threads another evening. Two months later, I quietly reshelved it. The
bookmark, a sassy Ticketmaster sleeve bearing an advert for “Ok-ROCK 92.3 FM
(HOWARD STERN ALL MORNING / CLASSIC ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ALL DAY),” remained caught
on web page 469, testifying to my defeat by “J R” or to “J R” ‘s
defeat by my noisy life.

In Standing phrases, I would merely failed as a reader. However I did have Contract on my
aspect. I would given the e book weeks of night studying, it nonetheless wasn’t working for
me, and now I used to be desirous to learn shorter, hotter books by James Purdy, Alice
Munro, Penelope Fitzgerald, Halldor Laxness. Battling by “J R,”
I would needed to seize Gaddis by the lapels and shout, “Hey! I am the reader
you need! I like good fiction, and I am on the lookout for a superb Programs novel. When you
cannot even present me a superb time, who else do you assume goes to learn
you?”

However this solely made it worse that I had stop. Exactly as a result of I used to be so properly
suited to learn Gaddis, I felt as if I had been personally betraying him by not
ending “J R.” From a Congregationalist childhood I would gone straight
to a collegiate worship of Artwork, with out noticing the transition and with out ever
fairly shopping for both religion. In the future a secretary referred to as from the Congregational
church to ask if I nonetheless needed to be a member, and I stated no, and that was
that. However it’s a lot tougher to depart a small, embattled cult than a mainstream
suburban church. Nothing in my Congregational expertise had ready me for the
fanatical fervor, the guilt-provoking authority, of Mr. Troublesome.

There’s one thing medieval Christian about “The Recognitions.” The
novel is sort of a large panorama portray of recent New York, peopled with
tons of of doomed however energetic little figures, executed on wooden panels by
Brueghel or Bosch, and searching incongruously historical beneath layers of yellowed
lacquer. Even the blue skies within the e book (the phrase “One other blue
day” recurs as a despair-inducing leitmotiv) glow like oil-paint skies in
an artwork museum past whose partitions, forgotten, is the age of H-bombs and
Military-McCarthy hearings by which the novel was written. The names dropped are
Hans Memling, not Harry Truman; Paracelsus, not Elvis.

And but the e book is completely of the early fifties. Peel away the erudition,
and you’ve got “The Catcher within the Rye”: a grim winter sojourn in a
seedy Manhattan, a quest for authenticity in a phony trendy world. Improvising
on the theme of artwork forgery, Gaddis fills his novel with each conceivable
number of fraud, counterfeiter, poseur, and liar. Not like Holden Caulfield,
although, the principle characters of “The Recognitions” take part within the
phonyness themselves. The younger literary poseur, Otto Pivner, is engaged on a
play whose plot, he says, “nonetheless wants a little bit tightening up.” The
narrator glosses this lie in a tone that is elementary to the novel, a tone at
as soon as unsparing and forgiving:

(By this Otto meant {that a} plot of some kind had but to be equipped, to inspire
the collection of monologues by which Gordon, a determine who resembled Otto at his
higher moments, and whom Otto tremendously admired, stated issues which Otto had
overheard, or considered too late to say.)

Wyatt Gwyon stands out as the romantic projection of the creator’s creative aspirations
(“How formidable you’re!” his spouse, Esther, unhappily exclaims), however
it is Otto who appears to embody Gaddis’s personal confusion, humiliations, and
disappointments. Otto’s biography overlaps with Gaddis’s each grew up
fatherless, each hung out in Central America and returned to New York through
banana boat with their arms, although unhurt, in picturesque slings and I
suspect that the e book owes a few of its temper of playful fabulation to Gaddis’s
implication in his personal satire.

The one real artist in “The Recognitions” is a devoutly Catholic
younger composer named Stanley. All through the e book, Stanley is engaged on a
requiem for organ which he hopes to play in a fragile previous church in northern
Italy. Within the final pages, because the novel circles again to Europe, Stanley
travels to the church and, failing to grasp the caretaker’s warning towards
taking part in something dissonant or too heavy on bass, begins to carry out the requiem.
The church collapses and kills him, and “The Recognitions” closes with
a few of its best-known strains: “most of his work was recovered too, and it
continues to be spoken of, when it’s famous, with excessive regard, although seldom
performed.”

The opposite well-known strains in “The Recognitions” are uttered by Wyatt
after Esther voices shock {that a} sure fashionable poet (Auden, maybe) is
gay. Rejecting her curiosity in “private issues about writers and
painters” as a prurient distraction, Wyatt bursts out:

What’s there left of him when he is finished his work? What’s any artist, however the
dregs of his work? the human shambles that follows it round. What’s left of the
man when the work’s finished however a shambles of apology.

Gaddis portrays Esther as a “vagina dentata” desirous to sleep with male
artists and “take in the properties which had been withheld from her.”
Wyatt retreats from her into coldness and abstraction, and Gaddis retreats from
readers in a lot the identical method as if, for him, intercourse with the general public had been a
pleasure that threatened to taint the purity of his motives. What mattered to
Gaddis, who avowedly strove to put in writing literature that may “final,” was
not the weak and fleshly artist however the afterlife. Though he had a household,
many buddies, and a busy social life by which he loved literary gossip, he
persistently denied his individual to the general public. Strict prohibitions like this are
a method by which threatened non secular minorities resist the seductions of the
majority tradition, and Gaddis within the fifties had Norman Mailer and Truman Capote
as examples of writers who had been seduced. He selected, as a substitute, to be a purist
of his religion. In his fifty-year profession, he gave precisely one substantial
interview, to The Paris Evaluate. He printed one transient autobiographical
essay. He gave no public readings.

Not that an extra of media consideration was ever a giant downside. “The
Recognitions” was printed by Harcourt, Brace in 1955, with a advertising
technique of “Everyone seems to be speaking about this controversial e book!” It
obtained fifty-five critiques, a formidable quantity by right now’s requirements, and, as
William Gass notes in his introduction to the Penguin version, “Solely
fifty-three of those notices had been silly.” The New Yorker gave the
e book a short, smirking dismissal (“phrases, phrases, phrases”); Daybreak Powell,
within the Submit, provided up an error-riddled sneer. Gross sales had been about 5
thousand in hardcover, not dangerous for a difficult first novel by an unknown
author. However the one prize the e book gained was for its design, and it rapidly
disappeared from public sight.

“I virtually assume that if I would gotten the Nobel Prize when The Recognitions
was printed I would not have been terribly stunned,” Gaddis instructed The
Paris Evaluate
in 1986, including that the e book’s reception had been
“sobering” and “humbling.” Possibly if the novel had met with
better acclaim Gaddis would have relaxed a little bit; possibly Wyatt’s “what’s
it they need” tirade, like his different puritan-isms, would have been revealed
as a skinny-young-man angle to be outgrown. I doubt it, although. The e book is about
the on a regular basis world’s indifference to the superior actuality of artwork. Its final strains
(“with excessive regard, although seldom performed”) unmistakably prefigure its
personal reception. Nurturing the hope that your marginal novel shall be celebrated by
the mainstream the Cassandra-like want that individuals will thanks for telling
them unwelcome truths is a ritual method of insuring disappointment, of reaffirming
your personal world-denying standing, of mortifying the flesh, of remaining, at coronary heart,
an indignant younger man. Within the 4 many years following the publication of “The
Recognitions,” Gaddis’s work grew angrier and angrier. It is a signature
paradox of literary postmodernism: the author whose least indignant work was written
first.

A few of Gaddis’s rage seems to have been built-in. Born in 1922, he grew up
along with his mom in an previous home in Massapequa, Lengthy Island, and at a small
Connecticut boarding faculty that he attended from the ages of 5 to 13.
5 is younger for boarding faculty, and 5 strikes me as an important determine in
Gaddis’s biography. In “J R,” an alter ego of Gaddis, an indignant drinker
named Jack Gibbs who was likewise despatched to boarding faculty on the age of 5,
speaks of getting “been in the best way for the reason that day I may stroll,” and he
describes the loneliness of boarding faculty:

Finish of the day alone on that prepare, lights approaching in these little Connecticut
cities cease and stare out at an empty road nook dry cheese sandwich cost
you a greenback would not even put butter on it, lastly pull into that desolate
station scared to get off scared to remain on . . . faculty automobile ready there like
. . . a God damned open hearse assume anyone count on to develop up.

Gaddis as a younger man was a rowdy, a drinker. Stored from the battle by a kidney
ailment, he studied English at Harvard and have become president of the Lampoon,
however in his senior yr he was expelled and not using a diploma after a run-in with the
Cambridge police. He then bounced round Europe, Latin America, and New York
through the seven considerably shadowy years he was at work on “The
Recognitions.” Within the yr of its publication, he married an actress, Pat
Black, with whom he quickly had two youngsters. Right here the temper of his biography
abruptly modifications, the overseas locales giving method to fifties commerce and
suburban life with children. Like Melville a century earlier than him, Gaddis went to work
for a residing in decrease Manhattan. He did public-relations writing for I.B.M.,
Eastman Kodak, Pfizer, and america Military, amongst others. (An evaluator
at I.B.M., recommending a “easier type” for one in every of his tasks,
complained that “the entire of the textual content is maybe an excessive amount of an impenetrable
mass.”) For twenty years, even because the nation’s literary tastes had been
swinging from the realism dominant within the fifties to the zanier modes of “Portnoy’s
Criticism” and “Catch-22,” Gaddis primarily dropped out of
sight. He began and deserted a “novel on enterprise” and a play about
the Civil Battle. He smoked quite a bit and drank quite a bit. His first marriage ended when he
was residing in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Not till the top of the sixties did
he scrape collectively sufficient grant cash to return full time to the novel about
enterprise.

By the point the e book was printed, in 1975, the nation’s temper had caught up
with him. “J R” obtained main and admiring evaluate consideration and gained
the Nationwide E book Award. The chunky paperback version with its chunky title
lettering was, like Patti Smith LPs and the “Moosewood Cookbook,” a
widespread sight within the secondhand shops and student-slum flats of my faculty
years. The backbone of “J R” was typically suspiciously uncracked, nevertheless,
or a unusually low used worth was pencilled inside the quilt, or the bookmark,
which is perhaps a sheet of rolling paper or a Speaking Heads ticket stub, could possibly be
discovered on web page 118, or 19, or 53, as a result of Gaddis’s fiction was, if something, extra
tough than ever. “J R” is a seven-hundred-and-twenty-six-page
novel consisting virtually completely of overheard voices, with nary a citation
mark, no typical narration of any variety, no “later that very same
night,” no “in the meantime in New York,” not a single chapter break,
not even a bit break, however hundreds of dashes and ellipses, one other solid of
dozens, and a laughably sophisticated plot primarily based on Wagner’s Ring and centered on
a multimillion-dollar enterprise empire owned and operated by an eleven-year-old
Lengthy Island schoolboy named J R Vansant.

J R is the grubby child you must snicker at as a result of he is not sufficiently old to hate,
the preadolescent whose complete being is dedicated to wanting stuff and to buying and selling
it for different, higher stuff. First he does it with a classmate:

-Boy, what crap. That is all you’ve got obtained is crap. What’s this. -It is this membership you
can be a part of if I like to recommend you. -What sort of membership. -It is this membership, see? You step
inside and instantly pleasure surrounds you! You enter a world highlighted by
the delicate, flickering glow of open-hearth fireplaces . . . the attentive rustle
of lovely Bunnies-

Quickly sufficient, he is buying and selling with captains of trade. Early within the novel, J R’s
sixth-grade trainer takes the category to Wall Road to purchase one share of Diamond
Cable inventory and “find out how our system works.” Whereas the category’s new
inventory is dropping ten per cent of its worth in a number of hours, and brokers and
company officers are partaking in vile manipulations of markets and senators
and overseas governments, and a company P.R. flak is laying on the smarm
(“you and your different fellow People not play a passive half in our
nation’s nice economic system”), J R is finding out the bylaws of Diamond Cable,
asking dead-on questions like “What’s a warrant?” and “What’s
that minus signal two and an eighth?” and ascertaining that the category’s share
of inventory entitles it to file a shareholder’s lawsuit. Inside weeks, by
threatening such a swimsuit and accepting a money settlement, J R, who conducts his
enterprise on a pay telephone on the center faculty, acquires his working capital. He
buys 1,000,000 and a half Navy-surplus picket picnic forks, a bankrupt textile
mill in upstate New York, after which an outward-spiralling galaxy of doubtful
considerations a brewery, a printer, a writer, a nursing residence, a mortuary. Like his
creator, J R is an obsessive. (Additionally like Gaddis, J R has no seen father. His
mom is a busy nurse.) He pursues what his nation teaches him is price
pursuing. He is devoid of appeal, compassion, and scruples, however he does not know
any higher, and so that you root for him towards the novel’s many company and authorized
sharks, who ought to know higher however behave simply as badly. “J R”
anticipates Jonathan Lebed, the alleged teen-age market manipulator in New
Jersey. It predicts the S. & L. crises and company raiders of the eighties
(“As a result of like what good is that this right here pension fund doing simply sitting
there,” J R wonders, “if we are able to like put it to work for them to get
this right here acquisition, you realize?”), and it properly demolishes President
Bush’s declare that Wall Road greed was an anomaly of the nineties.

Essentially the most honest grownup within the novel is, once more, a younger composer, a sweetheart
named Edward Bast, whom J R dragoons into serving because the entrance man for his
conglomerate. Whereas Bast spends his days serving to different characters (no one, of
course, helps him), the opera that he desires to compose is step by step scaled again
to a cantata, to a chunk for small orchestra, and, lastly, to a chunk for solo
cello. The novel’s maddening distractions recall the frustrations of Kafka’s
fiction; you’ll be able to sense an creator nightmarishly unable to discover a quiet area to
work. Bast tries to compose music in a Manhattan pied-a-terre that is a bitter
cartoon of entropy; two damaged taps spew scorching water day and evening, the one
clock runs backward, the rooms are piled excessive with packing containers of unidentified crap, a
by no means positioned radio dribbles nonsense, and bushels of unsolicited mail preserve arriving
for J R, who has despatched Bast a mechanized envelope opener that slices letters in
half. In one other a part of city, Thomas Eigen, a P.R. author for Diamond Cable who
as soon as wrote an “necessary” literary novel, comes residence from the workplace
too drained to work on his new opus. The condo is a multitude, his spouse is indignant,
and his little boy insists that he play a board sport:

-You bought within the Heffalump’s lure. Mama Papa obtained within the Heffalump lure. Mama?
-She will’t hear you David. Do not shout. -If I get pink now I am going to, yellow. I obtained
yellow too look, I at all times win look, now look the place I’m and… -David you do not
at all times win, no one… -I gained Mama 4 occasions right now. Mama? -Cease shouting
David… He held the bag down, -and I… obtained… -Black! You peeked. Papa you
peeked! -Peeked?

“J R” is written for the energetic reader. You are properly suggested to hold a
pencil with which to flag plot factors and draw move charts on the within again
cowl. The novel is a welter of dozens of interconnecting scams, offers,
seductions, extortions, and betrayals. Between scenes, when the dialogue yields
briefly to run-on sentences whose impact is sort of a blurry handheld video or a
speeded-up film, the photographs that flash by are of denatured, commercialized
landscapes bushes being felled, fields paved over, roads widened that recall to
the trendy reader how aesthetically surprising postwar automotive America should
have been, how dismaying and portentous the primary strip malls, the primary
five-acre parking tons.

Certainly, one protection of Gaddis and his problem is that typical fiction,
pushed by substantial characters and primarily based on a soul-to-soul Contract between
reader and author, was merely insufficient to the social and technological crises
that twentieth-century writers noticed growing throughout them. Each the moderns
and the postmoderns resorted to a type of literature of emergency. The moderns
employed new, self-conscious strategies to handle the brand new actuality and protect the
vanishing previous one. The postmodern enterprise was much more radical: to withstand
absorption or cooptation by an all-absorbing, all-coopting System. Closure was
the enemy, and the best way to keep away from it was to refuse to take part within the System.
For Pynchon this meant flight and paranoia; for Burroughs it meant
transgression. For Gaddis it meant being very indignant so indignant that, at a sure
level, he stopped making sense. Midway by “J R,” I bailed out.
As one in every of his ex-followers, I’m wondering: Did I betray him, or did he betray me?

One frequent downside with the literature of emergency is that it does not age
properly. Within the fifties and sixties, Gaddis and his cohort sounded alarms in regards to the
emergence of a world by which we have now been residing for many years. Our suburban,
gasoline-dependent, TV-watching American current appears much more like 1952 than
1952 appeared like 1902. Because the many years go, the postmodern program, the notion
of formal experimentation as an act of resistance, begins to look severely
misconceived.

Fiction is probably the most elementary human artwork. Fiction is storytelling, and our
actuality arguably consists of the tales we inform about ourselves. Fiction is
additionally conservative and standard, as a result of the construction of its market is
comparatively democratic (novelists make a residing one e book at a time, bringing
pleasure to massive audiences), and since a novel asks for ten or twenty hours
of solitary attentiveness from every member of its viewers. You may stroll previous a
portray fifty occasions earlier than you start to understand it. You may drift out and in
of a Bartok sonata till its constructions daybreak on you, however a tough novel simply
sits there in your shelf unread except you occur to be a scholar, by which case
you are obliged to show the pages of Woolf and Beckett. This may occasionally make you a
higher reader. However to wrest the novel away from its unique proprietor, the
bourgeois reader, requires strenuous effort from theoreticians. And as soon as
literature and its criticism develop into co-dependent the fallacies set in.

For instance, the Fallacy of Seize, as within the frequent reward of “Finnegans
Wake” for its “capturing” of human consciousness, or within the
justification of “J R” ‘s longueurs by its “seize” of an
elusive “postwar American actuality”; as if a novel had been primarily an
ethnographic recording, as if the purpose of studying fiction had been to not go
fishing however to admire any individual else’s catch. Or the Fallacy of the Symphonic, in
which a e book’s motifs and voices are described as “washing over” the
reader in orchestral vogue; as if, once you’re studying “J R,” its
pages simply flip themselves, phrases wafting up into your head like arpeggios. Or
the Fallacy of Artwork Historicism, a pedagogical comfort borrowed from the
moneyed world of visible artwork, the place a piece’s worth considerably depends upon its
novelty; as if fiction had been as formally free as portray, as if what makes
“The Nice Gatsby” and “O Pioneers!” good novels had been
primarily their technical improvements. Or the epidemic Fallacy of the Silly
Reader, implicit in each trendy “aesthetics of problem,” whereby
problem is a “technique” to guard artwork from cooptation and the
objective of this artwork is to “upset” or “compel” or
“problem” or “subvert” or “scar” the
unsuspecting reader; as if the author’s viewers one way or the other consisted, once more and
once more, of Charlie Browns operating to kick Lucy’s soccer; as if it had been a advantage
in a novelist to be the type of boor who propagandizes at pleasant social
gatherings.

It is unlucky for Gaddis that so lots of his buddies, students, and defenders
take part in these fallacies. Joseph Tabbi, the editor of Gaddis’s essays and
a real believer in subversive problem, thinks that the Apocalypse the dying
of the person, the triumph of the System will not be merely imminent, it has
already occurred with out your even realizing it, so do not blame the orphic
Gaddis for his inaccessibility. Tabbi’s apologies are a pleasant instance of
five-alarm avant-gardism:

Gaddis’s viewers has been restricted partly as a result of readers skilled on
nineteenth-century realism miss in his work these indicators and standard
signs by which characters could also be acknowledged, too readily, as rounded and
complete. Such typical characters are brokers inside a bourgeois and industrial
world that’s now, in america, largely historic.

When you’re having a superb time with a novel, you are a dupe of the postindustrial
System; in case you nonetheless determine with characters, you have to retake Postmodernism
101. William Gass, in his introduction to “The Recognitions,” names
the infantile factor that it is time to put behind us: “Too typically we carry to
literature the bias for ‘realism’ we had been usually introduced up with.” Gass’s
protection of problem enhances Tabbi’s, however with better sophistry and
alliteration. “If the creator works at his work,” Gass writes,
“the reader can also need to, whereas when a author whiles away each time
and phrases, the reader could calm down and gently peruse.” Gaddis’s fiction may
have used fewer buddies like this and higher enemies. Even Steven Moore, a
Gaddis scholar whose criticism is a mannequin of readability and clever advocacy,
lets his enthusiasm get the higher of him. “J R,” for Moore, is a
“lean and economical” e book, as a result of its inferential, all-dialogue type
forces readers to produce lacking descriptions and knowledge; the aim of a
novel being, I suppose, to seize and effectively retailer information.

My small hope for literary criticism can be to listen to much less about orchestras and
capturings and extra in regards to the erotic and culinary arts. Consider the novel as
lover: Let’s keep residence tonight and have a good time. Simply since you’re
touched the place you wish to be touched, it doesn’t suggest you are low-cost; earlier than a
e book can change you, you must find it irresistible. Or the novelist because the cook dinner who
prepares, as a present to the reader, this many-course meal. It is not all ice
cream, however sauteed broccoli rabe has charms of its personal.

Troublesome fiction of the type epitomized by Gaddis appears to me extra intently
related to the decrease finish of the digestive tract. His detractors seek advice from
his “logorrhea,” however it’s extra correct to characterize him as
retentive-constipated to the purpose of being unreadable, generally even
unintelligible. Edmund Wilson, in his Freudian section, recognized the playwright
Ben Jonson as a traditional anal-retentive author, obsessive about excretion, cash,
lists, seedy underworlds, arcane phrases, obscure references. Wilson steered
that the very best writers belief their abilities, and he contrasted Jonson’s cramped
output with that of his good friend and rival Shakespeare, whose “open and free
nature” Jonson himself praised. “The Alchemist,” Jonson’s
peculiar play a few London con man posing as a transmuter of gold, reads like
Renaissance Gaddis. Each writers stuff far too many swindles into their plots,
and for each of them cash is the world’s shit (Recktall Brown!), directly
fascinating and repellent.

If I am sounding a little bit Freudian myself, it is as a result of the primary strains of web page
523, the terminus of my second studying of “J R,” look a lot like
impacted excreta:

throughout smalltite traces and has Nonny put in for a mineral depletion allowance
tipped his hand to the FDA coming down exhausting on cobalt security ranges now Milliken
jumps in to guard residence trade solely factor that they had moreover sheep and Indians
until he instantly will get the concept his state is

Lean and economical? “J R” suffers from the insanity it makes an attempt to
resist. The primary ten pages and the final ten pages and each ten pages in
between carry the “information” that American life is shallow, fraudulent,
venal, and hostile to artists. However there by no means has been and by no means shall be a
reader who’s unpersuaded of this “information” on web page 10 however persuaded on
web page 726. The novel turns into as chilly, mechanistic, and exhausting because the System
it describes. Its world is dominated by company white males who pursue their work
with pleasureless zeal, casually sideline ladies and minorities, and invent
tough insider languages to discourage newcomers: how oddly just like the e book
itself! (And the way odd that Gaddis and his educational admirers reject Christian
Puritanism solely to demand that his readers resign the sinful pleasures of
realism and domesticate a selfless and pure love of Artwork!) Even the fascination of
J R Vansant wanes by mid-novel. J R is an avatar of Bart Simpson, however Bart is
incomparably higher suited to our cultural atmosphere than J R is. Even the
greatest gags in “J R” put on you out earlier than you are finished with them. On
“The Simpsons,” the gags hit their goal, the goal feels ache, and
subsequent week there is a new episode.

The curious factor is that I think Gaddis himself would moderately have watched
“The Simpsons.” I think that if anybody else had written his later
novels, from “J R” onward, he wouldn’t have needed to learn them, and
that if he had learn them he wouldn’t have favored them. Gaddis developed a mode
that his disciples imagine should have reworked the best way People learn
fiction, however his personal tastes had been notably conservative. He had specific disdain
for contemporary artwork. For the quilt of his fourth novel, “A Frolic of His
Personal” (1994), he selected an summary portray by his daughter, Sarah, with out
mentioning on the jacket that she’d painted it when she was 5: “See, any
baby can paint like that.” Steven Moore, little question with the very best of
intentions, has assembled a formidable record of what Gaddis did and did not like
to learn. Principally, he did not like artwork fiction. He had, Moore experiences,
“little curiosity” within the contemporaries with which he was related,
together with Pynchon. “Typically,” Moore concludes, he appeared “extra
prone to decide up a novel like Jay McInerney’s Vibrant Lights, Massive Metropolis
(which he discovered ‘very humorous’) than novels as difficult as his personal.”

To serve the reader a fruitcake that you just would not eat your self, to construct the
reader an uncomfortable home you would not wish to stay in: this violates what
appears to me the explicit crucial for any fiction author. That is the
final breach of Contract.

If “J R” is devoted to the proposition that America sucks, the
message of his third novel, “Carpenter’s Gothic” (1985), is that it
actually, actually, actually sucks. Gaddis himself conceded that the e book was “an
train in type,” and its content material is strictly paint-by-numbers. A
telegenic Southern preacher seems to be a harmful, venal hypocrite! A
United States senator seems to be corrupt! The e book is a husk. Not like
“The Recognitions,” it was handsomely reviewed.

Gaddis’s final actual novel, “A Frolic of His Personal,” rambles on for almost
600 pages in illustration of how a system designed to create order
(American legislation) can find yourself sponsoring dysfunction. The e book is good for graduate
research. It makes a banal however unexceptionable social level (we litigate an excessive amount of
in America), it is riddled with motifs, quotations, tales inside tales, and
numerous allusions to Gaddis’s personal earlier works and different well-known texts (higher
brush up in your Plato and Longfellow), and its solely aesthetic weak point, actually,
is that a lot of it’s repetitive, incoherent, and insanely boring. This novel,
in fact, obtained the warmest critiques of any of Gaddis’s books, and was given one
of these unofficial lifetime-achievement Nationwide E book Awards.

The perfect components of “Frolic” are the authorized opinions and the
characterizations. Creating a personality completely by dialogue is like boxing
with one arm behind your again, and I am not persuaded by the Gaddistic argument
that straining our imaginations makes a personality any extra actual to us. (In truth,
the work of studying Gaddis makes me marvel if our brains may even be
hard-wired for typical storytelling, structurally desirous to type photos
from sentences as featureless as “She stood up.”) Nonetheless, his
inferentially drawn characters might be vivid. Oscar Crease is a fifty-something
novice playwright and part-time professor in whose disorderly individual a
comically massive variety of lawsuits intersect. He lives within the massive previous home of
his childhood on Lengthy Island, hopelessly surrounded by a lifetime’s price of
miscellaneous papers: one other cartoon of entropy. Functionally, Oscar is a child.
He spends a lot of the novel in a wheelchair, endlessly pawing at his girlfriend’s
shirt, attempting to get his palms and mouth on her breasts, and sucking down wine
day and evening.

In “The Recognitions,” a son grows up and vanishes. “Carpenter’s
Gothic,” the e book with out youngsters, is a e book with out hope. On the heart
of the opposite two novels is a really massive baby. In “Frolic,” it is the
egocentric, unreasonable, self-pitying, incapable, insatiable Oscar, a pig within the
position of king, a struggling artist who (ha ha!) occurs to have little expertise.
Oscar claims your sympathy solely to abuse it. His lengthy play in regards to the Civil Battle
is clearly and unfunnily dangerous, however 100 pages are dedicated to reproducing
the manuscript and one other fifty to infinite jawing about its relation to artwork,
justice, and order. The novel is an instance of the actual corrosiveness of
literary postmodernism. Gaddis started his profession with a Modernist epic in regards to the
forgery of masterpieces. He ended it with a pomo romp that superficially
resembles a masterpiece however punishes the reader who tries to stick with it and
observe its logic. When the reader lastly says, Hey, wait a minute, this can be a
mess, not a masterpiece, the e book immediately morphs right into a performance-art prop:
its fraudulence is the entire level! And the reader is out twenty hours of
good-faith effort.

Relating to Gaddis’s two posthumously printed books, I really feel the best way I did when
my father was in a nursing residence. Except you are an excellent previous good friend, it is
higher to not see him struggling like this. The title of Gaddis’s final novel,
“Agape Agape,” comes from a tonally arch and intellectually doubtful
essay that he as soon as wrote about participant pianos and mechanization within the arts. The
e book is especially a free-form rant, nevertheless, with the sentences, sure, run the
sentences, run collectively, make it uneven, even simpler than it appears however no what
no, what issues is the artwork
. An unnamed novelist lies dying, his physique a
wreck that has betrayed his spirit. He reproaches himself for his failures,
denounces the populist “herd” for misunderstanding him, and worries
that he is perceived as a mere “cartoon.” However a cartoon is what
“Agape Agape” is: one opaque, obsessive, citation-riddled, solipsistic
paragraph deifying “the work” as “the one refuge” from
one’s painful humanity. The novel did handle to stab me with its closing word, a
word paying homage to Gaddis’s early goals of a Nobel Prize

That was Youth with its reckless exuberance when all issues had been potential
pursued by Age the place we at the moment are, wanting again at what we destroyed, what we tore
away from that self who may do extra, and its work that is develop into my enemy
as a result of that is what I can inform you about, that Youth who may do something

however I used to be moved for the very causes that Gaddis denigrated all through his
profession: as a result of I used to be touched by the human shambles. I used to be pondering of the
artist, not the artwork.

When you’re nonetheless questioning in case you missed one thing, some key to Gaddis that may
unlock his problem, you’ll be able to set your thoughts at relaxation by studying “The Rush
for Second Place,” a slender assortment of his essays and occasional
writings. Right here you may study that Gaddis cannot end even a brief nonfiction
piece with out breaking right into a rant. You may discover essays consisting of
strung-together quotes that you must learn rigorously, twice, earlier than you
conclude that no argument (or, certainly, logic) is hidden within the string.You may see
that, positive sufficient, literary problem can function as a smoke display for an
creator who has nothing attention-grabbing, clever, or entertaining to say. You may discover
not one reference to the pleasure of studying fiction. You may study, moderately, that
Gaddis believed that novels ought to enhance the world that good fiction will not be
about “the best way issues are” however about “the best way issues ought to
be.” You may study that the phrase “agape agape” refers to his
perception that the world of Contract, the American world of {dollars} and machines,
has ripped aside the charitable love (agape) to which early-Christian
communities aspired.

Or one thing like that it is a little bit unclear. I think about Gaddis’s disciples
wagging their fingers at me, telling me I am one other Silly Reader, explaining
that the essays subvert my expectations of readability, of enjoyment, of edification;
that I have not obtained the joke but. They’ve postmodern apologies for his
problem, comparable to this one by Gregory Comnes:

The narrative enactment of this epistemology exhibits readers how exhausting work is a
obligatory precondition for having which means in narrative by forcing readers to take part actively within the development of narrative which means, requiring them to
carry data to the textual content to learn what was by no means written.

They inform me, in different phrases, that I simply have to work a little bit bit tougher.
To which I can solely reply that there isn’t a headache just like the headache you get
from working tougher on deciphering a textual content than the creator, by all appearances,
has labored on assembling it; and that I am starting to get that headache.

And starting, as properly, to sound like Mrs. M?

Like many different Contract-minded People, just like the literary societies of a
hundred years in the past, just like the e book golf equipment of right now, I perceive that the Contract
generally requires work. I do know the pleasures of a e book aren’t at all times simple. I
count on to work; I need to work. It is also in my Protestant nature,
nevertheless, to count on some reward for this work. And, though critics may give me
pastoral steering as I search this reward, finally I believe every particular person is
alone along with his or her conscience. As a reader, I search a direct private
relationship with artwork. The books I like, the books on which my religion in
literature rests, are those with which I can have this type of relationship.
“The Recognitions,” to my shock, turned out to be a e book like this.

After “The Recognitions,” nevertheless, one thing occurred to Gaddis.
Some-thing went haywire. Whether or not it is true or not, I inform myself a narrative a few
five-year-old boy who was “in the best way,” a few skinny younger man who,
like Hamlet inscribing his stepfather’s villainy on his mind, assembled an
encyclopedia of phonyness unparalleled in literature. He confided his religion and
hope to a nine-hundred-and-fifty-six-page-thick vault, and he gave the grownup
world one probability to acknowledge him. When the world, inevitably, failed this check,
he took his expertise to the archetypically phony work of company P.R., as if to
say, “You may by no means catch me hoping once more.” The trendy cry of ache
grew to become the postmodern bitter joke. The company P.R. work was vile, however at
least he was acutely aware of its vileness. Certainly, the essence of postmodernism is
an adolescent concern of getting taken in, an adolescent conviction that each one
techniques are phony. The speculation is compelling, however as a lifestyle it is a recipe
for rage. The kid grows monumental however by no means grows up.

I believe there is a good story on this. To the extent that I imagine it is the
story of Gaddis himself, it softens my anger with him, dissolves it in unhappiness.
A Gaddis like this isn’t remotely a cartoon, and a narrative like this may by no means
match right into a “Simpsons” format. A narrative like this, the place the issue
is the issue of life itself, is what a novel is for.


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