The Rush for Second Place by William Gaddis
Essays and Occasional Writings

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William Gaddis published only four novels during his lifetime, but with those works he earned himself a reputation as one of America's greatest novelists. Less well known is Gaddis's body of excellent critical writings. Here is a wide range of his original essays, some published for the first time. From "'Stop Player. Joke No. 4,'" Gaddis's first national publication and the basis for his projected history of the player piano, to the title essay about missed opportunities in America during the past fifty years, to "Old Foes with New Faces," an examination of the relationship between the writer and the problem of religion-this diverse collection displays the power of an autonomous literary intelligence in an age increasingly dominated by political and religious conservatism.


About William Gaddis

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William Gaddis (1922-98) stands among the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. The winner of two National Book Awards (for J R [1976] and A Frolic of His Own [1995]), he wrote five novels during his lifetime, including Carpenter's Gothic (1985), Agape Agape (published posthumously in 2002), and his early masterpiece The Recognitions (1955). He is loved and admired for his stylistic innovations, his unforgettable characters, his pervasive humor, and the breadth of his intellect and vision. William H. Gass-essayist, novelist, literary critic-was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He has been the recipient of the first PEN/Nabokov Award, the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamondstein Award for the Art of the Essay, three National Book Critic Circle Awards for Criticism, a Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, the Award for Fiction and the Medal of Merit for Fiction from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations. He lives in St. Louis.
Published October 1, 2002 by Penguin Books. 182 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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In an essay written as a script for an IBM promotional film, he writes that a player piano performs its music as beautifully as a real player might, raising the question of the artist’s purpose, but it also leaves one feeling cold, because ultimately the same humans replaced by the piano are the ...

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Author of the deeply satirical novel JR (which features an 11-year-old capitalist who trumps up his Army surplus company in a manner that seems eerily prescient today) and of The Recognitions, Gaddis (1922–1998) was a fact-checker at the New Yorker and a corporate speech-writer before coming to...

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