Silence became his mode, exile (in effect) his status, cunning in scraping by his strategy, while compiling data and constructing other people’s niggling or nefarious plots, building another long book out of our business world’s obsession with money, manipulation, and deception, composing a hymn to Horatio Alger, music made of inane, conniving, sly, deceitful speech. J R did ok at the store for a time, and gathered in the National Book Award, but I think it was less read than The Recognitions, less enjoyed, and could not produce, of course, the same surprise. Furthermore, although clearly created by a similar sensibility, and expressing a common point of view, J R was as different from the earlier novel as Joyce from James. But do not put down what you have to go to J R yet, even if it is almost as musical as Finnegans Wake, a torrent of talk and Tower of Babble, a slumgullion of broken phrases and incomplete—let’s call them—thoughts; because there is plenty to listen to here; because we must always listen to the language; it is our first sign of the presence of a master’s hand; and when we do that, when we listen, it is because we have first pronounced the words and performed the text, so when we listen we hear, hear ourselves singing the saying, and now we are real readers, we are participating in the making, we are moving the tune along the line, because no one who loves literature can follow these motions, these sentences, half sentences, of William Gaddis, very far without halting and holding up their arms and outcrying hallelujah there is something good in this gosh awful god empty world.
Which is almost the whole point of what we do.