Fire the Bastards!

Fire the Bastards!

by Jack Green
     
 

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Fire the Bastards! is a scorching attack on the book-review media using the critical reception of William Gaddis's 1955 novel The Recognitions as a case study. Although this monumental novel is now generally regarded as one of the few indisputable milestones of contemporary American fiction, its original reviews were overwhelmingly negative. Combining meticulous

Overview

Fire the Bastards! is a scorching attack on the book-review media using the critical reception of William Gaddis's 1955 novel The Recognitions as a case study. Although this monumental novel is now generally regarded as one of the few indisputable milestones of contemporary American fiction, its original reviews were overwhelmingly negative. Combining meticulous research with savage indignation, Green exposes the inaccuracies, prejudices, and outright incompetence of Gaddis's reviewers to argue that the review media is ill-equipped to deal with masterpieces of innovative fiction, much preferring safe, predictable books that reassure (rather than question) conventional literary expectations.
Despite his careful scholarship, Green is not a dispassionate commentator but an impassioned satirist, working in a rogue tradition that looks back to Swift's ferocious pamphlets. Originally published as a three-part series in his own magazine called newspaper—which Gilbert Sorrentino has described as "one of the authentic minor splendors of New York literary life in the late fifties and early sixties"—this is the first time Fire the Bastards! has appeared in book form. Gaddis scholar Steven Moore has written an introduction filling in the background to this unique work and comparing the book-reviewing media of today with that of the fifties.

"That writers whose work is even a little outside the norms of the mummified familiar are almost invariably ill-served by reviewers afflicted with profound reading disabilities is a truism familiar even to cats and dogs. What a pleasure it is, then, to have Fire the Bastards! . . . A witty, devastating, and justly contemptuous assault launched against the zombie reviewers who tried—out of, variously, malice, stupidity, ignorance, sloth, and a vast incompetence—to destroy The Recognitions, this relentlessly detailed reply razes all things idiotic." (Gilbert Sorrentino

"[The reviewers] deserve to be scathed, just as Green's little book deserves to be reprinted, both for its insights into The Recognitions and for the disturbing light it sheds on today's reviewing establishment, with which the novel would have probably fared worse than it did in 1955." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4-11-93)

"[Green] gives to his project a pure, focused energy. It's beautiful to witness. Hey, Jack Green, you were alive, man!" (Curtis White, Exquisite Corpse 11-92)

"Green not only names reviewers and publications; the prose is meticulously cross-referenced, peppered thoroughly with direct quotations, dates, and bibliographical data. Vicious and hilarious, these issues of newspaper initiate a culture war worthy of Swift." (The Stranger Jan 17-23 95)

"This dissection of a body of contemporary criticism remains a challenge to critics and readers in its exposure of critical shorthand which serves deadline and cant rather than the work in question." (Book/Mark 8-94)

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
William Gaddis's Recognitions (1955), now generally recognized as a landmark of modern fiction, was initially panned by reviewers, who criticized its length, complexity, and innovative style. Fire the Bastards! originally appeared during 1962 in three issues of newspaper , Green's underground magazine, to refute these negative reviews and to launch an assault on book reviewers and the publishing establishment. Green scrutinizes these reviews and delivers a tirade (printed without capitalization or punctuation) on mediocre standards, plagiarism, the use of shopworn cliches, and the superficial reading and analysis employed by allegedly overpaid reviewers who wouldn't recognize genius if they fell over it. An introduction by Steven Moore provides fascinating background information on Green, Gaddis, and the ``disturbing questions about the book-review media that are as pertinent today as they were thirty years ago.'' Recommended for college/research collections and thick-skinned reviewers.-- Jacqueline Adams, Carroll Cty. P.L., Westminster, Md.
Anne Gendler
This documentary republication of issues 12-14 of Jack Green's underground "newspaper," which circulated in mimeographed form in Greenwich Village in 1962, constitutes an unusual offering that is certain not to be ignored by book reviewers. Reacting fiercely to critics' treatment of William Gaddis' controversial novel "The Recognitions", Green waged a campaign for the book, which has since come to be appreciated as a major work of twentieth-century literature. He castigates the book reviewers for their incompetence and their abiding love of mediocrity, charging them with blatant plagiarism and inaccuracies and with not reading the book even once, let alone twice (!), as a work of this magnitude undeniably deserves. Green is right to call them on the carpet; he's got plenty of ammunition. On the other hand, are all masterpieces necessarily understood in their own time?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564780119
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
11/28/1992
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
88
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.53(d)

Meet the Author

Jack Green attended Princeton and worked for an insurance company before supporting himself fulltime as a freelance proofreader. Seventeen issues of his newspaper appeared between 1957 and 1965, and since then he has published various chapbooks. He lives in New York s Greenwich Village.

Steven Moore earned his Ph.D. at Rutgers University. He is a noted William Gaddis scholar and wrote "William Gaddis", the first comprehensive critical guide to his work, and "A Reader's Guide to William Gaddis's The Recognitions". Moore has edited a number of books, including "Beerspit Night and Cursing: The Correspondence of Charles Bukowski & Sheri Martinelli 1960-1967" and "In Recognition of William Gaddis". He has also contributed essays, articles, and reviews to a number of newspapers, journals, and magazines.

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