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. Reprint. 30,000 first printing.
The problem I'm having, however, is that the book doesn't actually SAY very much. As fun as it is to see Gaddis play games with legal talk, 500 pages of satire seems a bit excessive. All of the characters are parodies of people, rather than people, and there's nothing to really grab onto and care about in this book. Is it fun? Sure... for a while. Is Gaddis a talented writer? Absolutely. But is this book something you need to rush out and get? Not really.
An amazing book. Gaddis truly listened to how we speak and interact with each other, because his dialogue is absolutely spot on with how we humans/Americans speak to each other in a familiar manner. While there are no truly sympathetic characters (all are pretentious and selfish in a way we all know far too well), one can't help but feel empathy towards each of them in some sordid way. The plot has been outlined in other reviews, so I won't go there, other than to say that just when you think Gaddis is off on some tangent and you feel a lack of cleverness in having not "got it", he brings it right back around, front and center, although it may not be where you thought it was going to be.
Unlike criticisms of The Recognitions, and even JR, which suggest too much plot, too many charachters, and many loose ends (not necessarily true), this is a tightly, albeit densely, plotted book that is at times laugh out loud funny and other times head in the oven sad. But at all times it challenges and is truly entertaining and wonderful. Maybe the best book I've ever read.