A Frolic of His Own

A Frolic of His Own

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by William Gaddis
     
 

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With the publication of the Recognitions in 1955, William Gaddis was hailed as the American heir to James Joyce. His two subsequent novels, J R (winner of the National Book Award) and Carpenter's Gothic, have secured his position among America's foremost contemporary writers. Now A Frolic of His Own, his long-anticipated fourth novel, adds…  See more details below

Overview

With the publication of the Recognitions in 1955, William Gaddis was hailed as the American heir to James Joyce. His two subsequent novels, J R (winner of the National Book Award) and Carpenter's Gothic, have secured his position among America's foremost contemporary writers. Now A Frolic of His Own, his long-anticipated fourth novel, adds more luster to his reputation, as he takes on life in our litigious times. "Justice? - You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law." So begins this mercilessly funny, devastatingly accurate tale of lives caught up in the toils of the law. Oscar Crease, middle-aged college instructor, savant, and playwright, is suing a Hollywood producer for pirating his play Once at Antietam, based on his grandfather's experiences in the Civil War, and turning it into a gory blockbuster called The Blood in the Red White and Blue. Oscar's suit, and a host of others - which involve a dog trapped in an outdoor sculpture, wrongful death during a river baptism, a church versus a soft drink company, and even Oscar himself after he is run over by his own car - engulf all who surround him, from his freewheeling girlfriend to his well-to-do stepsister and her ill-fated husband (a partner in the white-shoe firm of Swyne & Dour), to his draconian, nonagenarian father, Federal Judge Thomas Crease, who has just wielded the long arm of the law to expel God (and Satan) from his courtroom. And down the tortuous path of depositions and decrees, suits and countersuits, the most lofty ideas of our culture - questions about the value of art, literature, and originality - will be wrung dry in the meticulous, often surreal logic and language of the law, leaving no party unscathed. Gaddis has created a whirlwind of a novel, which brilliantly reproduces the Tower of Babel in which we conduct our lives. In A Frolic of His Own we hear voices as they speak at and around one another: lawyers, family members, judges, rogues, hucksters, and desperate

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Books of the Century
...[An] exceptionally rich novel....[R]eaders who laugh their way through to the end may find it impossible to get the rhythms and sounds of [the] voices out of their imaginations.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author of Carpenter's Gothic (and winner of a 1993 Lannan Award) takes a brash, entertaining swipe at the legal profession in his fourth novel. Oscar Crease is a quiet, middle-aged history professor whose father and grandfather were both high-ranking judges. The story begins as Oscar contemplates two lawsuits: one against the Japanese manufacturer of the car that ran over him; the other against a filmmaker Oscar claims stole his play, Once at Antietam, and turned it into a gory, lavish movie. Before long, the legal wrangling, strategic maneuvering and--of course--the whopping bills dominate Oscar's life and wreak havoc on his relationships. There is no description or third-person narrative. Like Carpenter's Gothic, which is rendered wholly in dialogue, this narrative is a cacophony of heard and found voices: Oscar's conversations with his myriad lawyers, his flighty girlfriend, his patient sister and her lawyer husband are all spliced with phone calls, readings from Oscar's play and various legal documents. Rather than slow the action down, these documents add to the grim melee. This is a wonderful novel, aswirl with the everyday inanity of life; it may also be the most scathing attack ever published on our society's litigious ways. (Jan.)
Library Journal
When Oscar Crease, an obscure history teacher, discovers that a new Hollywood film borrows heavily from his own unpublished Civil War play, he immediately sues for plagiarism. Meanwhile, Crease's brother-in-law, a corporate attorney, is struggling with a trade name dispute brought by the Episcopal Church against the anagrammatic Pepsi-Cola Company, and Oscar's father, irascible federal judge Thomas Crease, is deep in a ``media circus'' trial involving a dog trapped in a piece of junk sculpture. Gaddis's fourth novel is written in the cacophonous style that he perfected in his National Book Award winner, JR ( LJ 9/15/75). Conversation, recorded verbatim, is full of jargon, non-sequiturs, and misunderstanding. No effort is made to identify the speakers, and blaring televisions and offstage noise drown out the words. The end result is a mordant analysis of a society overrun with lawyers, presented in a format that mirrors the chaos of modern life. An essential purchase for all literature collections. -- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law School. Lib., Los Angeles

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684800523
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
02/10/1995
Edition description:
First Scribner Edition
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
781,765
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

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Frolic of His Own 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
guitaoist3 More than 1 year ago
its great, i suggest the william gaddis website as well for footnotes