the 2d round

the meridian paperback of the recognitions came out late march 1962.
john d seelye strongly recommended it in the berkeley gazette      i
somehow managed to get #12 out in feb      & as a protest vs pub-
lishers' advertising budgets took a page ad for the novel in the village
      this caused a lot of talk in the village, mainly wondering who
bribed me       barkham sounded the 2 motifs of the 2d round (saturday
review syndicate): "unjustly neglected" & "deserves the wider audi-
ence it will now receive"       the ny times failed to get with it, just had a
para quoting hicks 1955 con1      dolbier's ny herald tribune review
was very favorable ("its reappearance as a paperback is more than
welcome") & admitted 1955 was "one of American criticism's weakest
hours"       however, the book did not appear 12 yrs ago—& its not 976
pp long

i had lunch with meridians publicity director & the literary gossip-
columnist jerome beatty jr       beattys not interested in books so while
eating the free food i expended a years supply of charm & told every
scandalous anecdote about my personal life i could think of      this
worked beautifully & there was a long saturday review account of my
peculiarities, newspaper & a plug for the recognitions that bordered on
the serious

now there was a burst of publicity (the "gaddis underground story").
hayes' new haven register review started "One of the most remark-
able—and most neglected—American novels of the 1950's"      he
forgot to tell his readers that over 80% of the review was his old 1955
review wordforword       hogan's sf chronicle column was gossip a la
beatty       then the ny times surrendered, they cant bear to miss a
story so their gossipcolumn had a para too, about the recognitions
being revived everywhere       newquist's chicago star review was plus.
saal in the saturday review was quite unlike geismar in 1955: "at last
receiving proper recognition" "immensely talented"

1 morning i got a phonecall from the literary gossipcolumnist (soon
theyll replace reviewers entirely) martha macgregor of the ny post      i
tried to wake up but soon realized she wasnt much interested either.
i feebly denied the accusation that i might have "constructive advice"
for critics & went back to sleep      she wrote:

  "Book news is so polite," complains a reader. Hoping for some im-
polite news, I called Jack Green, who has attacked 53 critics as
"bastards" for their reviews of William Gaddis' "The Recognitions"
back in 1955. But Mr. Green was disappointingly courteous. Not
one four-letter word, not a single "slob," "thief," "fake," or "imbecile."
if i had only known what she wanted!      publishers' weekly had a
beattylike column ("A NOVEL with seven years' worth of underground
reputation is beginning to see daylight in a big way"), reported sales of
"a comfortable 200-copy weekly average, with business particularly
strong in college towns"       w g rogers' ny herald tribune review (with
editors note derived from publishers' weekly) was again very plus      so
was arthur sainer's perceptive village voice review ("as great a novel
as we have produced in the last sixty years" "Gaddis must be reckoned
not only with Hemingway and Faulkner but with Joyce and Proust and

this was my 2d raid into the publicity world      its good for laughs but
leaves that sick feeling       #12 touched a raw nerve, got some action.
the establishment surrendered without a fight, admitting its sins with
humorous tolerance for itself & those who had no right to be right      i
didnt know my writing (that is, my mimeographing) was cute enough to
win such bouquets as "Number One Gaddis Fan" "chief cheerleader"
& "toy newspaper"       nor did i expect one of the "bastards" to ask me
to write a review for his paper!

the recognitions was published in england in september      philip
toynbee's review was very favorable but the other critics were sourly
"balanced"       best boner was chitty in the sunday telegraph: stanley
belongs with the plagiarists & tricksters because the music hes play-
ing when the church collapses on him is "copied"

back in the u s: the recognitions has moved quite a way toward
acceptance, but the establishments surrender was premature & mis-
leading       most of the 1962 plugs had only a momentary effect
because they were by phonies, insincere jobholders who often hadnt
even read the book       what seelye, rogers, sainer published could
have a real effect because they were writing what they really believed.
more such work is needed

1they were busy preparing the book coup of the year      in may the times was
actually able to locate a novelist whod write a favorable review of herman wouk's
youngblood hawke       (commercial antisexual filth!)      to go with the 2p ad in
the same issue      (im proud to say i instantly      reading wouks 1st novel aurora
      spotted him as the worst writer in the world) (Back)