Perhaps William Gaddis' most accessible novel--though a dense and imposing book--A Frolic of His Own is a masterful work that mocks the folly of a litigious society. The story centers around Oscar Crease, the grandson of a Confederate soldier who avoided a deadly battle by invoking a legal clause that allowed him to hire a substitute and who later became a Supreme Court judge. Oscar writes a play about his grandfather that goes unproduced yet appears as the story behind a big-budget Hollywood film. Oscar sues and is tossed into the vortex of litigation. Meanwhile, almost 20 other lawsuits of varying frivolity swirl about, adding to this satirical and philosophical treat, which won the National Book Award for 1994.
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 wranglings, 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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Having read the reviews posted here, I felt pretty certain that I would enjoy Gaddis' books. His emphasis on dialogue (as opposed to description and narration) adds a pleasantly... Read morePublished on Dec 9 2002 by GLBT
Although tour-de-force writing, this book is a difficult read. Inadequate puncuation, run on sentences, lengthly full-text LEGAL BRIEFS and massive excerpts from one character's... Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2002
This is an intense book. It's funny and difficult. For those familiar with Gaddis, you'll know that it's 98% dialogue. That's plenty of dialogue. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2001 by "donkeye"
What can I say? Intense, jumbled, over-bearing - yawn. This novel is about as exciting, and readable, as the telephone directory. So Gaddes knows how to use words - big deal. Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2001 by Leigh Munro
This book, like Gaddis' other masterpiece, JR, made me repeatedly laugh out loud. While Gaddis is brilliant and innovative, the really important thing is that his best novels --... Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2001 by "pangloss_"
I'm baffled by the degree of praise that this book has garnered. As a practicing attorney, I appreciate the satirical aspect, and it's certainly ambitious in scale, but I think the... Read morePublished on Aug. 13 2001
This novel kept me laughing out loud-- the industry built around the stuck dog, the magic mittens, the ridiculous meal scenes.... Read morePublished on May 23 2001 by L. Wagner
This book isn't for lawyers or intellectuals, anymore than "The Tempest" is for 16th century englishmen. Read morePublished on March 12 2001 by desefinado