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 They include: 'Stop Player. Joke No. 4', Gaddis's first national publication and the basis for his projected history of the player piano; the title essay about missed opportunities in America during the past fifty years; and '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.
William Gaddis (1922-1998) was one of the greatest writers in twentieth-century America. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and won two National Book Awards, for JR (1976) and A Frolic of His Own (1994). Of his six landmark works, The Recognition (1955), JR (1975), Carpenter's Gothic (1985) and Agape Agape (2002) are published by Atlantic Books.