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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the perspective of a lawyer/copyright professor
I'm writing this review not as a general reader who likes everything from Umberto Eco (the sublime) to Douglas Adams (the ridiculous), but as someone with a particular interest in copyright to others with a similar interest (assuming you are not already a Gaddis fan). For such a reader, Gaddis's book is an incredible journey through the world of law in general, and...
Published on Dec 30 2000 by Edward Samuels

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3.0 out of 5 stars A Frolic of Modernism
Here we have a book that is as exasperating as it is brilliant, as annoying as it is hilarious. Gaddis is as good a satirist as has been seen in this country this side of Mark Twain. But he is also---and here's the problem---a modernist of the most uncompromising variety. Reader's familiar with Joyce's Ulysses should know what I mean. Gaddis dispenses completely with...
Published on Jan. 12 2001 by Greg Nyquist


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the perspective of a lawyer/copyright professor, Dec 30 2000
By 
Edward Samuels (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
I'm writing this review not as a general reader who likes everything from Umberto Eco (the sublime) to Douglas Adams (the ridiculous), but as someone with a particular interest in copyright to others with a similar interest (assuming you are not already a Gaddis fan). For such a reader, Gaddis's book is an incredible journey through the world of law in general, and copyright law in particular. A lawyer with any perspective ought to love this. Some of the materials are taken almost verbatim from actual cases, but with just enough twists to make it sometimes hilarious. I too noticed what I thought was a flaw in the analysis between federal and state law, but it turns out later that the purported flaw was intentional and plays an important part in the development of the plot!
The book is certainly not an easy read (with no quotation marks, and everyone annoyingly interrupting each other and not finishing sentences), and it takes 50-100 pages to learn how to read the book without getting too bogged down. But this is ultimately a brilliant work, and I recommend that any lawyer or professor or student interested in the field will ultimately get a lot out of it.
-Edward Samuels, author of The Illustrated Story of Copyright
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4.0 out of 5 stars Legal Tender, July 16 2004
By 
Wordsworth (Greenwich, CT) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
I read Frolic after JR and The Recognitions of which I was more impressed than Frolic. It's amusing to watch Gaddis skewer the legal profession -- I can think of few professions more worthy of it -- but while he addresses the national feeding frenzy of greed associated with litigation his characters fail to capture much empathy as they were more hideous in many cases than their legal representatives. Consequently, I found myself detached from main characters and unsymapthetic to their sordid fates. In JR and The Recognitions I found characters whose destinies in the story lines mattered to me -- not so in Frolic. Gaddis has his finger on the pulse of a national disgrace in the need for tort reform but, since the reformers are self-regulating lawyers, it isn't likely to happen anytime soon. This novel is very finely written with powerful, pithy observations expressed in breathtaking jabs and poetic riffs. Frolic isn't as densely packed with intellect as JR or The Recognitions but is more accessible than either as his style is more accommodating in Frolic. This novel is just shy of great compared to the high standards set by his other works, which are among the best brace of American novels of the late 20th century. The great novels of Gaddis are destined to be discovered by wider readerships, to radiate brilliantly on America's literary landscape and to endure.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not THAT good..., Dec 9 2002
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This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
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 kinetic feel to the book, not unlike reading a Mamet play.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of His Own, Oct. 9 2002
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
I made the "mistake" of familiarizing myself with Gaddis' work by first reading The Recognitions about six months ago. Make no mistake - The Recognitions is well worth the effort, once you understand how to read it (i.e. the dialogue and conversational effect and how to interpret who is talking and when, and what is narrative as opposed to dialogue), although toward the end, when Wyatt loses his mind in the monastery, the imagery gets a bit muddled. In any event, as I began reading A Frolic of His Own, I found myself thinking, wow, I should have started with this one, because this is much more accessible than The Recognitions. Of course, I now realize that it is more accessible simply because I had been through the wringer with The Recognitions and not because the style is so much different. Indeed, it is more structured and more coherent, but the same Gaddis black, stinging satire is there in its glory.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading, out of the ordinary style, June 26 2002
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
William Gaddis writes like no other author, and his work is refreshing to read in a market that is simply clotted with bad and substandard writers that somehow manage to get published. He is truly original.
The book follows a motley cast of characters, none of them really likeable, but unswervingly human (and might I say American) if a tad over the top in obsessive behavior. But literature should stretch the human condition a bit to make characters interesting, especially when the goal is satire. The main character, Oscar Crease, is involved in a few lawsuits, the main one being a dispute over a play he wrote that may or may not have been stolen for a big budget Hollywood film.
I am truly not worthy to try to discuss the myriad facets of law, philosophy, literary value, and general twists the book takes, but I will say on finishing this novel I was consistently amazed at how Gaddis fills the characters with depth and turns the story in new ways.
If you haven't gleaned it already from the other reviews, Gaddis writes in a style that is almost all dialogue. Whatever is not dialogue turns into a kind of stream of consciousness prose that takes us from one scene into another, and really doesn't do more to describe action than what the dialogue already does. There are no quotation marks, no "he said's" or "she said's", and no identification of characters except occasional name dropping--you have to know who is speaking through the mannerism and word choice. And really, it only takes about 20 pages to get into the swing of things, and when you start reading it as though you were in the middle of the conversation the book really flows.
Also, Gaddis throws in some legal briefs, a couple of acts of a play, and a deposition--but don't be scared off by the legal jargon and change of style, because when you stick with it you realize in the middle of these events you are getting a glimpse into the ridiculousness of the whole issue and you can see the true humor of the situations.
Highly recommended if you like some originality and unique qualities to your literature. Plus it's just genuinely interesting and funny.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Why don't I Iike any of these people?, Jan. 28 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
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 ponderous Civil War play make for an overall annoying literary experience. Although there are many humorous moments of exchange between the main characters (you have to figure out who's talking by context since the author rarely identifies the speaker), most of the personalities end up being stunningly whiney and have almost zero redeeming values, which makes you say at the end: "Do I care about any of these people? NO."
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4.0 out of 5 stars litigation and comedy and a LOT of dialogue., Nov. 16 2001
By 
"donkeye" (all up in your face) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
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. And most of it is spent with a crotchety old bugger who is paranoid that someone has stolen his Civil War play idea and turned it into a bad movie. So he litigates, and it turns horrible.
Gaddis is too complicated for me to properly chit-chat about (...), but he ably weaves satire, politics, and a very sarcastic version of humanity into an entertaining and (admittedly) tough read.
I read it while waiting for a flight in a snowed-in airport and often wished I had something easier to look at. But I'm glad I didn't. It's a super spanky good read, and for Gaddis virgins, it's the right place to start, since it's the shortest of his difficult novels.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Kill me now and save me from this!, Oct. 11 2001
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
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. Can he write a story? No. Save your cash - buy a book by Philip Roth instead if you feel the need to impress.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Whole-Brain Reading, Aug. 20 2001
By 
"pangloss_" (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
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 -- of which this is one -- are great fun to read. As for the reviewers who complain "why doesn't he use quotation marks?"; the answer is because the book wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable. Enjoying Gaddis comes from going with the frenetic flow of his rhythms. The reviewer who finds it "annoying" that characters keep interrupting each other is, with all due respect, missing the point. What's brilliant, and fun, about Gaddis, is the way the cumulative effect of those interruptions mirrors the sensation of certain real-life conversations. If you read a transcription of a spirited debate at a family dinner, or a tense business meeting, or whatever, you won't find many complete sentences. What you'll find is a collection of false starts, interruptions, and apparent non-sequiturs that resemble Gaddis' prose. In my experience, Gaddis's books are the type to which you need to surrender your consciousness and detachment to really enjoy them. To a certain extent, we've all been taught that to be truly intelligent or sophisticated readers, we need to hold part of our mind back to remain "critical" and to analyze the author's technique, and our own reactions, as we read. But if you read Gaddis while carefully searching for his "tricks" or "methods" and trying to discern the key to his authorial voice, you're doing yourself a disservice. It's all about immersion. If you just go with the flow, I don't think it's nearly as "difficult" as many people suggest, and it's as rewarding as reading can be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars judging legal art, May 23 2001
By 
L. Wagner (rockville, md USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Frolic of His Own (Paperback)
This novel kept me laughing out loud-- the industry built around the stuck dog, the magic mittens, the ridiculous meal scenes.... This seemed to me to be a less caustic and more thoughtful book than JR. I was also pleasantly surprised by Gaddis' twinned treatment of aging and the law; I think that to interpret this book as merely a funny novel denouncing the American legal system is a disservice. Perhaps Gaddis is invoking law as a mirror of aging-- inexolerable, disorganized....
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Frolic of His Own
Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis (Paperback - Feb. 10 1995)
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