A Frolic of His Own: A Novel

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Poseidon Press, 1994 - Fiction - 586 pages
23 Reviews
"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 men (and women) looking for a buck. Above all these is Oscar's voice - the outraged cry of the new anachronism, the self-proclaimed "last civilized man" rendered frail before the behemoth of the law, the servant and warrior of the soul of our century: money."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Review: A Frolic of His Own

User Review  - Maya Lang - Goodreads

I have no idea how to rate this novel, which flummoxes more than it charms. I appreciated Gaddis' maneuvers and techniques but did not feel moved by them, sort of like when eating a meal prepared with ... Read full review

Review: A Frolic of His Own

User Review  - Thomas Armstrong - Goodreads

This was the third book of Gaddis' trio of magnificent books that I've read (I've not read his other two shorter novels yet - but will soon). While I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as JR, and it ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

William Gaddis was born on December 29, 1922, in Manhattan, New York City. He was an American novelist. In Recognition of William Gaddis (1984) is a collection of essays supporting the view that Gaddis is the Herman Melville of the twentieth century. The comparison may prove justified, not only because of artistic similarities, but also because both writers suffered from years of neglect before achieving fame. Gaddis' novel The Recognitions (1955) baffled and angered most of its initial reviewers, but it has slowly, steadily attracted a growing number of appreciative readers willing to work through its more than 900 demanding pages. Its length and encyclopedic complexity caused some critics mistakenly to hail it as the American Ulysses, but Gaddis disclaimed much knowledge of James Joyce. It was named one of TIME magazine's 100 best novels from 1923 to 2005. As if to make amends for the neglect of The Recognitions, most reviewers greeted Gaddis' second novel, JR (1975), with respectful attention. Although not a popular success, it won the National Book Award. Gaddis won a second National Book Award in 1994 for his book, A Frolic of His Own. Gaddis died at home in East Hampton, New York, of prostate cancer on December 16, 1998.

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