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JR Paperback – September 10, 2003
The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Top Customer Reviews
One child, JR, is particularly enamoured with the whole process. He asks complicated questions about futures, buybacks, depreciations, interest, tax write-offs and more, flustering and intriguing the man in charge of the tour around the company. JR is so curious, in fact, that upon arriving home, he begins to study and plan ways to make his piece of America work for him.
He meets up with Edward Bast, a struggling composer, and they strike a deal. JR will be the thinking man of the operation, Bast - as an adult - will be the face of the company. Soon, Bast is traveling back and forth from paper mill to Indian reserve to banquet to meeting room as JR creates an empire from 'worthless' stock and inventory obtained through mail order and telephone deals.
JR is written almost entirely in dialogue. People speak, radios chatter, conversations begin and end and trail off, some in the main focus of the novel, such as Rhoda and Bast's discussions in the increasingly cluttered apartment he lives in, some off to the side, little snippets finding their way into the book, shedding light on minor characters or putting a different perspective on what is currently happening.Read more ›
The reviewer who equated it to listening to the radio is pretty close, in my opinion, although I feel its more like listening to other people talking on the train (or perhaps watching a Robert Altman movie with a blindfold on) in that conversations can be broken off just when you think they are getting interesting.
Reading Gaddis can be like watching television, with someone else holding the remote. If you can't watch movies that way, you'll hate this book.
If you haven't read any Gaddis, read "A Frolic of His Own" first - I was astonished at the way he managed to manipulate my impressions of people solely on the way he let me hear them talk, and then as time went on, I discovered that I actually quite liked those despicable characters after all - and the beating the legal profession gets is far easier to understand (and sympathise with) than the capitalists in JR.
If you find Frolic heavy going, you probably won't like JR. If you find JR heavy going, don't touch The Recognitions. The only reason I bothered with JR, after reading Recognitions, was because I had read Frolic first.
Don't read JR because you're expecting a savage attack on capitalism, although it is that. Don't read it because you want to see how schools are becoming profit-centers first, and educators second, although it shows that. Don't read it because someone said its a picture of an America that was (is?), although perhaps it is.
Read it because its a good book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant. Intense, yes, and disorienting but that's Gaddis's immersion technique--which savagely captures the overwhelming din of Americna life. Read morePublished 1 month ago by William C. Harris
If you can work your way through this decidedly opaque farrago of almost completely unattributed dialogue the rewards are infinite. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Steiner
-That's part of it, yes.
-And power, and lack of it, and control, and lack of it, and will, and lack of it....
-And sound, and too much of it. Read more
A prescient novel with a well-earned reputation as a formally innovative postwar American classic that is not as difficult as Jonathan Franzen et al. would have you believe. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Matthew Clemmer
I occasionally admired the book, but rarely enjoyed it. The joke is pretty monotone (you'll get it by page 10). Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mark Schlegel
This 700+ page novel by William Gaddis (1922-1998) is a splendid work of literature. And in case you're wondering about the title, JR is the name of one of the main characters, a... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Glenn Russell
There are a few great books that change your understanding of what is possible through literature. Paraphrasing Toni Morrison, the contract between the reader and the author is for... Read morePublished 23 months ago by isecond
I've now read three articles (two of them introductions to Gaddis' own books) on this author that concern the purported difficulty of his work: one by Rick Moody, one by Jonathan... Read morePublished on June 19, 2014 by Sentimental Surrealist
Do you find books like Infinite Jest too accessible? Is Gravity's Rainbow too basic for you? Well friends, William Gaddis's J R is the book for you! Read morePublished on February 15, 2014 by jafrank