Carpenter's Gothic

Carpenter s Gothic This story of raging comedy and despair centers on the tempestuous marriage of an heiress and a Vietnam veteran From their carpenter gothic rented house Paul sets himself up as a media consultant for

  • Title: Carpenter's Gothic
  • Author: William Gaddis
  • ISBN: 9780670697939
  • Page: 310
  • Format: Hardcover
  • This story of raging comedy and despair centers on the tempestuous marriage of an heiress and a Vietnam veteran From their carpenter gothic rented house, Paul sets himself up as a media consultant for Reverend Ude, an evangelist mounting a grand crusade that conveniently suits a mining combine bidding to take over an ore strike on the site of Ude s African mission At tThis story of raging comedy and despair centers on the tempestuous marriage of an heiress and a Vietnam veteran From their carpenter gothic rented house, Paul sets himself up as a media consultant for Reverend Ude, an evangelist mounting a grand crusade that conveniently suits a mining combine bidding to take over an ore strike on the site of Ude s African mission At the still center of the breakneck action revealed in Gaddis s inimitable virtuoso dialoge is Paul s wife, Liz, and over it all looms the shadowy figure of McCandless, a geologist from whom Paul and Liz rent their house As Paul mishandles the situation, his wife takes the geologist to her bed and a fire and aborted assassination occur Ude issues a call to arms as harrowing as any Jeremiad and Armageddon comes rapidly closer Displaying Gaddis s inimitable virtuoso dialogue, and his startling treatments of violence and sexuality, Carpenter s Gothic shows again that Gaddis is among the first rank of contemporary American writers Malcolm Bradbury, The Washington Post Book World An unholy landmark of a novel an extra turret added on to the ample, ingenious, audacious Gothic mansion Gaddis has been building in American letters Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review Everything in this compelling and brilliant vision of America the packaged sleaze, the incipient violence, the fundamentalist furor, the constricted sexuality is charged with the force of a volcanic eruption Carpenter s Gothic will reenergize and give shape to contemporary literature Walter Abish

    358 Comment

    • MJ Nicholls says:

      There was no way I was going to start my Gaddis experience with his 976pp Olympic marathon The Recognitions, not having sampled his style first. Unfortunately, there is nothing in this short novel to repel me from said monolith except perhaps the disorienting dialogue and scene changes (of the four characters in this novel no one formally enters or exits, nor conducts the same conversation), but the man’s prose is unique, mellifluous and (could it be?) readable. What! you say. You mean it isn [...]

    • Nathan "N.R." Gaddis says:

      Given that William Gaddis towers among novelists of the variety postmodernist, next to whom only perhaps Pynchon and McElroy cast an equal shadow, one would like to know what it’s all about, what’s going on, what makes Gaddis the kind of Gaddis he is. Carpenter’s Gothic is a tempting place to go for answers. It is short. It’s action is confined to a typical kind of American fake dwelling structure, a cheap imitation (of wood) of the Gothic stone and iron, designed to be seen from the out [...]

    • Sentimental Surrealist says:

      I'm of two minds about this book. As I discussed in my review of A Frolic of His Own (shameless self-promotion time: read it! /review/show), I don't buy the conventional "major Gaddis/minor Gaddis" thing that puts his first two novels on top and his last two novels on the bottom; it suggests that Gaddis stopped growing as a novelist he got the two famous ones out of the way, which just plain isn't true. Yet if you check my Gaddis ratings, you'll notice I've given the first two fives and the seco [...]

    • Tony says:

      A Carpenter's Gothic, we are told, is all designed from the outside they drew a picture of it and squeezed the rooms in later. Yes, I don't know either. All I meant was having seen our puzzled looks, it's a hard house to hide in. Thank you for clearing that up.This is written in Gaddis' trademark style: primarily unattributed dialogue. As if he's so taken with his invented structure that this had to look a certain way, and, you know, he squeezed the rooms in later.Gaddis skewers 1985 America: V [...]

    • Jonathan says:

      I shall simply quote Cynthia Ozick in her wonderful review:"We have run into these fictional scalawags before, rotted-out families, rotted-out corporations, seedy greedy preachers and poachers, either in cahoots with or victims of one another, and sometimes both. They are American staples; but ''plot'' is Mr. Gaddis's prey, and also his play. Triteness is his trap and toy. He has light-fingered all the detritus that pours through the news machines and the storytelling machines - the fake claims, [...]

    • Justin Evans says:

      I must warn you, I have no qualms calling Gaddis the greatest novelist of the later twentieth century, and perhaps ever. I am an unrepentant fanboy. So my star rating is completely untrustworthy. Anyway, on to my thoughts. This is the shortest and best titled of Gaddis' real books (I don't count Agape Agape). Carpenter's Gothic, one of the characters tells us, is a style of American architecture. The builders tried to imitate European neo-gothic, but did so from the outside in: the houses have t [...]

    • Russell says:

      Were the stars ever in doubt? Gaddis proves here that he doesn't need bulk to create a pristine piece of work. Don't get me wrong, his big boys are where it's at, but this is at the least equal to Frolic imo (if not above it). Gaddis has hit my top 3 for sure.

    • Francisco H. González says:

      Antes de leerme Jota Erre de William Gaddis quería leer algo suyo más ligero. Esto, es un decir, porque estas 288 páginas, son cualquier cosa, menos ligeras. La historia transcurre dentro de una casa, la de la portada del libro, una casa de madera que imita a un palacete, de "estilo gótico carpintero". Allí mora el matrimonio formado por Paul y Liz. Como Paul no puede tener relaciones sexuales, se la pasan todo el rato hablando, y nosotros como lectores registramos esas conversaciones entre [...]

    • Lee Foust says:

      Wow. Another amazing American classic from William Gaddis.At first I admit I was a tad disappointed. The dialogue was quite similar (especially the blowhard character Paul and all of his self-centered, never-get-a-word-in-edgewise wheeling and dealing) to so much of/so many of the characters of JR that I thought, well, poor Gaddis, after writing the two greatest American novels of the 20th century, he was plumb out of ideas by the 1980s. But, my bad--rather it's a slow burn, a handful of snow to [...]

    • Stephen Durrant says:

      Imagine three or four Thomas Bernhard characters talking to one another and you have the style of this Gaddis novel. Each character, but perhaps one, has a particular rant, with none of them really listening to the others (we've all been to dinner parties like this but they don't typically last more than maybe two hours). Moreover, since the speaker is rarely identified, one sometimes feels a bit lost, and since the novel is almost all dialogue, what has happened needs to be constantly reconstru [...]

    • Teresa Proença says:

      Gótico Americano (Carpenter's Gothic) é um estilo arquitectónico de casas rurais norte americanas. É no interior de uma dessas casas que decorre toda a acção do romance, construída através de diálogos, sendo a intervenção do narrador reduzida ao mínimo. As personagens mais conversadoras são um casal, o irmão da senhora e o senhorio. o irmão entra e sai e irrita o cunhado que reclama com a mulhera mulher cozinha as refeições, enquanto ouve os lamentos, reclamações e relatos ins [...]

    • Aiden Heavilin says:

      Carpenter's Gothic is a mean-spirited, dull novel. It is one of those books about arguing, where characters constantly storm up staircases, glowering and yelling at each other. Those few occasions where conversations take place without arguments are generally filled with long tirades against "stupid religious folks"; conversations whose bitterness and hatred I might assume was that of the characters, not the author, had William Gaddis not said in the interview that he considered titling the book [...]

    • Simon Robs says:

      Good God it's more Gaddis! He's off to the races again in this one a hundred miles per hour dialogue tearing ass over teakettle telltale tidbits and mumbling hierarchies of madness it's pure joy, joy of reading joy. More to follow probERVIEWERCarpenter’s Gothic?GADDISWell, that was rather different. I cannot really work unless I set a problem for myself to solve. In Carpenter’s Gothic the problems were largely of style and technique and form. I wanted to write a shorter book, one that observ [...]

    • David says:

      The most compact of the first four Gaddis books, though still longer than Agape Agape, Carpenter's Gothic may be the most accessible of all the Gaddis novels. It has links to JR and to A Frolic of His Own, and is written in the uncompromising style of William Gaddis novels; it is the limitation of the size of the canvas which promotes accessibility. It's a good starting point for the curious

    • Max Nemtsov says:

      Этот спуск в ад в вихре мусорных синтагм требует такого же неистового темпа чтения — «Плотницкую готику» лучше всего читать в реальном времени, не отрываясь на сон, еду и прочие занятия. Потому что иначе воздействие как-то стушевывается. Но вряд ли сейчас кто на такое спосо [...]

    • david blumenshine says:

      in regards to the structure i thought it was brilliant. the conversation as prose which breaks the mold of form while simultaneously showing true form of language as it is spoken offset by pauses of literary prose was as good as any i've crossed. however, no less than two of the main characters were absolutely intolerably obnoxious. as is life, i suppose, that half of the people one encounters go on and on in an annoying fashion, and this is the kind of subversion, on the surface at least, which [...]

    • Hadrian says:

      One of Gaddis' shorter books, but one that still requires a Herculean effort to read. A gigantic sprawl of dialogue.

    • Thomas Jacob Jr. says:

      I'd like to take a moment to talk about 'postmodernism' and literature.I read a book a few years back entitled 'Postmodern Culture'. Among the concepts contained therein, the author explained a bit about how the term itself is shiftable, especially when considering various different types of media, i.e. music, film, architecture, literature, etc. When discussing classic literature, especially of the contemporary variety -- for my purposes, 20th and 21st century lit -- the term 'postmodern' is no [...]

    • Griffin Alexander says:

      And here we have Gaddis at it again: the falsity at the bottom of our pious surety; the hypocrisy beneath the headlines; the churning disgust we put outward and onto one another. But here, as opposed to the richness of The Recognitions, we have no struggle toward the meaningful, no moments that are necessarily funny without the indulgence in the caustics of cynicism, no actual human connection. We are left instead with the extended metaphor of the Carpenter's Gothic: that the belief systems of p [...]

    • Anna says:

      dialogue constantly surges forward, relentless. i see now why they mention gaddis when reviewing books by david foster wallacee novel as a whole is almost startlingly well-crafted. images and phrases return sometimes like musical phrases echoing. made me think of symphonies, or sewing, just the way it was so beautifully woven together. often, the story felt devastating and desperate while the storytelling felt transcendent, brilliant.i want to read this again, and more slowly.

    • Ingrid Joselyne says:

      Debería escribir algo acerca de esta experiencia magnífica que ha sido Gaddis, pero no soy capaz de verbalizar con precisión lo que ha supuesto. Así que sólo puedo recomendarlo, más encarecidamente que cualquier otro.

    • Colleen says:

      Published in 1985 so the con-man main character doesn't reflect the man the US elected President in 2016 but you'll recognize him. His gaslighting. His endless money making schemes. His use of politicians and religious leaders to promote himself. And his wealthy (Grosse Pointe, MI) crazy wife whose only defense against constant invasion of her boundaries is to lose things, including her mind. The book is told entirely in disjointed conversations, with a few alarming descriptions of the actual su [...]

    • Gabriel says:

      Lo primero que me sorprendió de William Gaddis fue su impresionante talento para los diálogos, nunca antes había leído parlamentos tan realistas antes de Gótico carpintero, en la otra novela que editó Sexto Piso, Ágape se paga también hay gran realismo en el monólogo del personaje, pero en esta ocasión los personajes interactúan, y sus diálogos ponen en evidencia cualquier intento previo de realismo en los parlamentos de ningún personaje en la ficción norteamericana posmoderna (aun [...]

    • Sebastian says:

      An unflinching look at corruption, degraded culture, religious charlatanism, abusive relationships and more. Carpenter's Gothic come off, in some ways, as a footnote to JR, and Gaddis even makes a winking reference to that reality within the book. However, what sets this book apart, in my mind, is how merciless Gaddis is with his alter-ego in this story, McCandless. While Tom Eigen in J.R. is in some ways the reflection of Gaddis after the commercial failure of The Recognition, with a "sell-out" [...]

    • pierlapoquimby says:

      C'è il teatro d'improvvisazione, no? E Gaddis qua tenta la narrativa d'improvvisazione, ma è tutto un bluff, non crediate, perché l'intreccio, pagina dopo pagina, chiacchiera dopo chiacchiera, prende corpo.Ecco, questo forse è il difettuccio dell'opera.I continui riferimenti agli affari della famiglia, a quelli di Paul (una specie di Capezzone un po' schizzato e cafone, un Capezzone che ha fatto il Vietnam e poi ha tentato di sfondare a Wall Street senza successo) e di McCandless, agli inter [...]

    • David says:

      Bitter and loud. Heiress Elizabeth Booth is the financial doormat for her bullying, entrepreneurial husband Paul and the sexual doormat for the enigmatic, intellectual McCandless. She is weak, paralyzed, and a bit pathetic, but she is the best chance at salvation for the raging hypocrites who surround her. Carpenter’s Gothic is the saddest and most humane of Gaddis’s novels and certainly the best entry point for those interested in his work. As always, Gaddis is fatiguing to read, and, even [...]

    • Joel says:

      I'm conflicted. Carpenter's Gothic is often exhilarating, but equally often a slog. Its grammatically mangled dialogue captures the stumbling rhythms and hesitations of ordinary speech, but becomes tedious when the characters spout longwinded rants that go on for pages (rants bore me). Also, Gaddis is too enamored of artificial complexity for my liking - not only is the narrative willfully murky, it's not always clear or possible to infer what's happening or even who's talking. As a tactic to fo [...]

    • William says:

      a patchwork of conceits, borrowings, deceptions, the inside's a hodgepodge of good intentions like one last ridiculous effort at something worth doing even on this small scaleSo describes McCandless the house which serves as the setting for the novel. Gaddis uses the imitation Victorian style used on the house to frame both the novel itself and the characters within it. They are deceptive and self-serving in a world which is corrupt and cynical. Despite being dialogue heavy, there are quite a nu [...]

    • Rob says:

      4.5 stars. this was a close call between 4 and 5 stars. the first 50 pages really disappointed me, after the brilliance of JR and Frolic. but suddenly things came together and it was wonderful. i read the last 200 pages aloud to my mom while she was knitting, and for long stretches she had to stop knitting and just sat there enrapt. with 20 pages left, she whined, "I don't want it to end!" no author i have ever read can write dialogue the way Gaddis can. take the best stuff from the film Pulp Fi [...]

    • Roy Kesey says:

      I had a harder time getting into it than I'd have guessed, then grew into the rhythms and premises. Enjoyed the descriptive jewels kept rare in all that dialogue. Enjoyed the outrageous manipulation of time. Not sure how many of the tricks here would work more than once.

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