Image from the Writers in Conversation interview with Malcolm  Bradbury.  View or purchase this videotape by following the link on the Gaddis on the Web page.  Remembering
William Gaddis
Friends, colleagues, advocates, and others
recall his life and their times together.

Dirk Görtler
remembers Gaddis in Freiburg, Germany

Dirk Görtler is an artist, designer, illustrator, writer and co-editor of the art magazine Chelsea Hotel – A Magazine for the Arts, a transcontinental dialogue with American literature and art inspired by Robert Creeley. Görtler studied in Stuttgart , Essen and Basel and has been working as an illustrator since 1980. Travels through the U.S.A. and many contacts with American writers led to his specializing in American literature book cover design. His pictures of American subjects and portraits of American writers have been exhibited in Berlin and Bielefeld, and in Freiburg, where he teaches drawing and illustration at the Freiburger Graphik Schule; more information at . Read more...

Harrison Kinney
remembers his friendship with William Gaddis

Harrison Kinney attended Washington & Lee University, a journalism major, and Columbia (MA in English). He was a New Yorker magazine reporter for five years, contributing more than sixty "Talk of the Town" pieces.  He joined McCall's as, first, copy chief and than an articles editor. As a free-lance writer he wrote two children's books, The Lonesome Bear, based on one of his short stories in The Saturday Evening Post, and The Kangaroo in the Attic. His The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci is about the replication of the famous painting by an American artist, based on one of Kinney’s “Talk” stories.  His fiction and articles have appeared in many of the major magazines.  His novel, Has Anybody Seen My Father?, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1960.  He wrote speeches for IBM executives — it was in this period that he met Gaddis, who was doing the same sort of work at Pfizer and, later, for Kodak and the Army Signal Corps -- and more than fifty articles for the employee publication, Think magazine. Research for the definitive biography, James Thurber: His Life and Times, had begun with his MA thesis and continued through the years of interviewing Thurber and Thurber's friends and colleagues.  Published in 1995, it is still in print.  Kinney is now editing Thurber's correspondence for Simon & Schuster and still hoping to turn up letters from Thurber that may have eluded his search thus far.

He was married to Doris Getsinger, a Life magazine reporter, in 1952; separated in 1972, and is the father of three daughters and a son.   In 2000 he moved from Carmel, N.Y., to Lexington, Virginia, where he enjoys the research, athletic and cultural facilities of his alma mater, Washington and Lee University.

Harrison Kinney met Gaddis through a mutual friend, Stewart Richardson, Doubleday editor, in 1961.  Kinney and Richardson, W&L classmates, were roommates in New York in the early years.   Richardson and Gaddis met through the usual literary circles of Manhattan.  Gaddis wished to improve his financial position as a speechwriter and Richardson introduced him to Kinney.  “I was unable to get him hired at IBM,” says Kinney, “but we became firm and lasting friends.” Read more...

Ormonde de Kay
interviewed by
Charles Monaghan
about William Gaddis
Image from the Writers in Conversation interview with Malcolm  Bradbury.  View or purchase this videotape by following the link on the Gaddis on the Web page.

Charles Monaghan describes the interview: 

"Ormonde de Kay was born into a socially prominent New York family in 1923. He served in the Navy in World War II and graduated from Harvard in 1945, where he was a year ahead of William Gaddis. De Kay has often been referred to by friends as the "golden boy" of his generation at Harvard. Tall, handsome and witty, he was head of the Advocate, a rival Harvard magazine to the Lampoon, for which Gaddis wrote. Within a year of graduation, de Kay was working on the script of the Louis de Rochemont movie Lost Boundaries.

"While de Kay knew Gaddis at Harvard, they did not become friendly until after graduation, growing particularly close during Gaddis's stay in Paris.  On returning to New York, de Kay became a free lance, writing film documentaries (like Gaddis), but also producing several children's books and contributing to American Heritage and Horizon magazines. De Kay had spoken French since childhood and translated Mother Goose into French, entitled Rimes de la Mere Oie; his last book was a history of the Harvard Club in New York.  He died in 1998.

"I met de Kay through my friend Walter Karp, also a contributor to American Heritage and Horizon. To prepare for this interview with him, I read Steven Moore's William Gaddis (Twayne, 1989), which includes a chronology of Gaddis's life and some biographical information. I taped the interview at an annual gathering of friends for a pre-Christmas drink at the Algonquin Hotel in New York on Dec. 24, 1993. Steve Moore has the original tape." Read more...

Charles Monaghan, writer, editor and early Gaddis promoter, remembers their association. (coming)
George Hunka
recalls William Gaddis's course
at Bard College, 1979
Image from the Writers in Conversation interview with Malcolm  Bradbury.  View or purchase this videotape by following the link on the Gaddis on the Web page.
George Hunka attended Bard College beginning in 1979, when he took part in William Gaddis’s seminar “The Literature of Failure,” and graduated with a degree in Languages & Literature in 1983.  He has published book reviews and essays in various periodicals, and is currently a new media producer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"I first came across JR in 1978, when I was 16 years old. I’d been doing a lot of reading amongst the black humorists, and it was probably in an anthology of writing about these novelists – perhaps it was the Richard Seaver/Terry Southern collection Writers in Revolt – that I read a selection from The Recognitions, was intrigued, and started seeking out Gaddis’s work. The Recognitions was tough going, as it would be for any 16-year-old, but JR appealed more to the dialogue-drunk modernist in me. I didn’t understand either novel, but I was entranced by Gaddis’s satiric bite, his pitch-perfect ear, his sheer, rolling delight in the insanity of this fallen world.

"The next year I started my college career at Bard College in upstate New York.  During the fall semester of 1979, Gaddis was teaching two courses -- a workshop for prose writers and a seminar titled “The Literature of Failure.”  These were both upper-level courses and, as a freshman, I doubted I’d get in.  Fortunately, my academic advisor Benjamin La Farge, who was chairman of the department at the time, took a liking to me, and when I told him that I’d really like to attend the seminar, he brushed aside the problems --  “Oh, that can be arranged” -- and before I left his office that day I had his signature on the special registration card I needed for the course." Read more...

Scott Zieher
drinks with Gaddis at the 1994 National Book Award reception

"I received A Frolic of His Own as a gift in December of 1993.  I was planning a trip from New York to New Orleans the following February and decided to wait until I had an extended amount of time to give the book my full attention.

"I took the train south and started reading as soon as I took my seat.  It was not long after that I noticed the name-tag of my extremely friendly porter:  H. Lutz. I asked him his first name, naturally, and he told me it was Harry, the exact name of the principal character in Frolic.  I hit the roof.  I had had similar moments when it seemed to me that Gaddis was tapping me on the shoulder, following me around, so to speak.

"Once on the subway, I finished a chapter of The Recognitions and transferred trains going from Brooklyn to Central Park at Union Square, beginning the next chapter at my transfer platform.  The characters in the book were at Union Square as well.  I proceeded to Central Park and by the time I’d arrived at a comfortable spot in the shade and recommenced reading, the characters in the book had moved to the Central Park zoo.  It was a pleasant afternoon.

"But the Lutz coincidence (mainly my having waited two months to begin reading the book on that particular train) was simply too much.  I explained my excitement to the flummoxed porter.  Amused, he took down the title and author of the book.  Needless to say I never saw him after my arrival in New Orleans. A little touch of Harry in the night indeed. (Frolic, p. 542)."

Scott Zieher is a poet and artist from Waukesha, Wisconsin.  He has lived and worked in New York City since 1992. Read more...

Images from the filmed interview with Malcolm Bradbury

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