Friday, October 15, 2010

A landmark indeed

The Neglected Books Page had a review of the audiobook releases of William Gaddis’ The Recognitions and JR. Based on the review, I downloaded The Recognitions and have been listening to it for the last two weeks. It is everything said in the Neglected review—Nick Sullivan’s performance is amazing. I have not read anything by Gaddis but I can see how The Recognitions could be frustrating in trying to figure out who is speaking. Sullivan’s performance makes this aspect of the book much easier to digest. Each character is given a unique voice that can be identified immediately. Based on Sullivan’s performance (well, and Gaddis’ work, too) I intend to listen to JR as well. Highly recommended.

Oh…so how’s the book itself? Chapter One hooked me. Hard. I loved the dark humor running through it. I bogged down in the next three chapters, but I like the way Gaddis develops the themes of authenticity (not just in art or money but in other areas such as values, too), salvation, innocence, and the relationship between artist and public. The character of Wyatt, someone with incredible talent but no…vision? belief? intrigues me. The other characters provide interesting counterpoints when compared to Wyatt. They have an attribute of Wyatt’s character but lack other dimensions. For example, some have belief or vision but no talent. Now, especially since many threads are beginning to come together, I’m still interested in listening to it each day. (Keep in mind I’m only halfway through the audiobook so my comments and assumptions on themes and descriptions may be premature)


Amateur Reader said...

I love these crazy books. JR basically forces the reader to go back after two or three pages and (re)identify the speakers.

Which in a way is outrageous, and in another way, so I have to reread two pages, so what?

Dwight said...

I remember doing something similar in Parade's End, although it included figuring out what was going on as well as who was speaking. After figuring that out, reading the pages again made much more sense.

I could tell on The Recognitions that identification on the page could take a while, but Nick Sullivan's performance really is wonderful. I don't know what kind of awards are given for recording audiobooks, but he deserves one.

mel u said...

I read The Recognitions when a long time ago-I remember thinking how can one person know so much-