Paul Griffiths reviews the volume in the TLS
William Gaddis

“Another damned thick, square book.” It is easy to imagine William Gaddis responding thus to the publication of his letters, quoting, as he regularly did in connection with his novels, a remark thrown at Edward Gibbon by a royal duke of the time. One can also guess that such a comment would not in this case have been a cover, as surely it was with his fictional works, for pride in achievement. Gaddis worked for seven years on his first novel, the thousand-page page-turner The Recognitions, which appeared in 1955, when he was thirty-two, and another two decades passed before he published his second, JR, a narrative almost as long, and unbroken. A believer in the “P. E.” (Protestant Ethic), he knew very well what these books represented in terms of hours at the typewriter, and what they required, too, not only of imagination and stamina but also of rage. [Read More]

David Sexton explores the lineage of one of modern literature and film’s most chilling villains in his critical study, The Strange World Of Thomas Harris
Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs
Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs
One of Lecter’s most obvious fictional precursors is Sherlock Holmes and before him, therefore, Poe’s Dupin. Many of Lecter’s observations are pure Holmes in style, if not content. As he tells Clarice: “‘You use Evyan skin cream, and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps, but not today.'” On their next meeting, he detects a Band-Aid under her clothes.

Compare Holmes on his first meeting with Watson in A Study In Scarlet: “‘You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’ ‘How on earth did you know that?’ I asked in astonishment.’ ” When, at their next meeting, Holmes explains his deductions, the amazed Watson says, rightly enough, “You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”