Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

A Frolic of His Own

A Frolic of His Own

5.0 2
by William Gaddis

See All Formats & Editions

A dazzling fourth novel by the author of The Recognitions, Carpenter’s Gothic, and JR uses his considerable powers of observation and satirical sensibilities to take on the American legal system.


A dazzling fourth novel by the author of The Recognitions, Carpenter’s Gothic, and JR uses his considerable powers of observation and satirical sensibilities to take on the American legal system.

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When Oscar Crease, an obscure history teacher, discovers that a new Hollywood film borrows heavily from his own unpublished Civil War play, he immediately sues for plagiarism.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
Brad Hooper
Gaddis--for all the brevity of his oeuvre--sits atop the Mount Olympus of U.S. experimental writers. His fourth novel in nearly 40 years will only help to secure his position there; it rests expansively on a theme representing one of the most flabbergasting aspects of contemporary American life, our litigiousness. Oscar Crease is a college teacher; author of a play derived from his grandfather's Civil War experiences. He's livid because a Hollywood producer has lifted his idea for use as a movie. Oscar's suing, and over the duration of the legal life of his case, he and all the people around him engage in conversation about the issue at hand as well as side issues and life in more general terms. Thus the novel is primarily a stream of dialogue often wandering far away from--but always returning to--its main premise. As Henry James wrote novels and short stories about the artist at the mercy of the mundane world, so Gaddis has woven a complex tapestry about the same situation. Readers familiar with Gaddis and/or appreciative of experimentation in narrative will be served a banquet of ideas and language; those whose tastes tend toward the traditional will leave the table early and go back to the likes of Willa Cather.

Product Details

Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 29, 1922
Date of Death:
December 17, 1998
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Place of Death:
East Hampton, New York
Attended Harvard University (no degree)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

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