Read Carpenter's Gothic by William Gaddis Online


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...

Title : Carpenter's Gothic
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780670697939
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 262 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Carpenter's Gothic Reviews

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-04-07 08:50

    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’t an even more densely packed Recognitions, or like Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49—all the extraneous readable prose cut completely, leaving only the cult-forming unintelligible gibberish? No, sir! This novel offers a series of brief interviews with hideous men, with heiress Elizabeth at the centre, whose life with her one-expletive-only husband, leeching brother and slippery landlord forms the “crux” of the piece—so much as this “piece” has a “crux”—taking us on an inventive satirical bus tour of American . . . greed? religious propaganda? men who behave like a world-class assfaces? dehumanised dudes in search of the dollar? All this and less. Mr. Salvage sums it up rather well, “bitter and loud.”

  • Nathan
    2019-04-21 04:41

    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 outside and with rooms placed any old where. But, yes, it is still Gaddis. He’s in there. In spades. But if the bulk and density of The Recognitions or J R is found daunting, please do not believe that you are adequately prepared even for the precision of Gothic. And besides, the short is only a predictor of the long when the long is not worth reading. And given that one should say something about the book. Yes. There are voices here. A dialoguing which would seem to be a hangover from J R, but it’s not. Voices. Broken and shattered conversations, interrupting (continuously) telephones, an unfinished novel, a pornographic and an anthropological magazine, the radio, the television, the door, a toilet which tends to flood, an old man across the street with a dustpan containing a few leaves, a library of sorts in seemingly mid- and continual-collapse, a French speaking maid, and the newspaper with its headlines, the mail and bills and summonses and threats.But you’ll get a kick of out Gaddis’ polished and precise prose tearing a new one upon the (willful, obstinate) ignoranti who would have us teach creationism in Texas and elsewhere. But you will notice, please, that unlike those new atheists, Gaddis won’t smear all religion on account of association, but he goes directly for the cause of corrupted religiosity, i.e., stupidity, willed ignorance. “There’s much more stupidity than there is malice in the world.” But the attentive reader, the one not fascinated so much quite by the stupidity of the other person, will notice that the issues of imperialistic exploitation and extraction of the mineral wealth of Africa is not a thing of the past, but to which very imperialist practice I owe the computer upon which I am typing this review. The story of Africa is not being told, the wars of oil being rather a bit better rehearsed, this even despite the possibility of blaming the carnage of Africa upon the former European imperialists and present day (only recently official enemy) China. Warlordism won’t go away so long as those warlords can fund their projects by selling mineral wealth to capitalists who are only too happy to not know things which citizens of a democratic society ought to know. Follow the money.You’ll maybe like to have the annotations at hand: supposedly silly thing I’d previously said and which rests here, dying, that comments below, numbered .1. through .21. may have some reasonableness granted unto them:What should have been the cover for Carpenter's Gothic.[Leave that Like button alone [it’s catching!] I've not read this yet. Instead of Liking this link, lambast me for having not yet read Carpenter's Gothic.]

  • Sentimental Surrealist
    2019-04-05 07:58

    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!, 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 second two fours, so in a way I as well have enforced this dynamic. Basically, I prefer Gaddis' first two as being these perfect convergences of plot, character, motifs, prose and form, but I wouldn't discount what his third and fourth novels have to offer as well.Since Carpenter's Gothic and A Frolic of His Own are both presented in the mostly-dialog format Gaddis introduced with JR, it's tempting to compare the three to each other with an eye for how one led to the other led to the third. On the other hand, since Carpenter's Gothic is half the length of Frolic, a third the length of JR, and a quarter the length of the Recognitions, it's tempting to consider it the least ambitious of Gaddis' works. Yet because it's the next logical step after JR, I'd refute that. Carpenter's reveals its ambitions in other ways. It's a book with a complex symbolic language; for starters, its setting seems to mirror its vision of America. Furthermore, it takes the capitalist system JR skewered and connects it to other systems, namely religion and imperialism, creating this complex net of world conflict. These conflicts parallel the conflicts of the characters, who are all of course wrapped up in these systems. Add these aspects to the apocalyptic undertones, and from there add the structure (accurately compared to a fugue, albeit a discordant one - the subplots never quite cohere, and that's the beauty of it), et voila! A huge novel embedded in a small one and an attempt on Gaddis' part to grow beyond what he'd already established. Yet there's still something vaguely unsatisfying about this novel. Gaddis' first two novels are exemplary for several reasons, and his last two contain many of those same exemplary aspects - enviable prose, startling insight, formal daring, and oh those symbols and motifs. And I don't think a complex character is the be-all end-all of fiction, but the bottom line is that the Recognitions and JR had more complex characters than Carpenter's Gothic and A Frolic of His Own. Carpenter's Gothic is especially weak in that regard; the opportunistic TV preacher is worth skewering, but he's also just short of a stock satiric figure; the same goes for the Billy, the Buddhist hippie who doesn't get Buddhism. He has a few funny lines but never moves beyond the butt of jokes. Gaddis plays well with how antihero Paul is perceived - depending on which of the two unreliable characters you ask, he's either an idiot who's secretly pulling the strings or an idiot who's not-so-secretly along for the ride - but there isn't much to him, either. Liz is a little more complex, although her portrayal verges on misogynistic; there are moments where she seems stronger than she lets on. McCandless, who spends the first couple chapters of the novel cultivating mystique and the rest earning it, is the most compelling character here, and even then he's in some ways a stand-in for Gaddis, which makes it frustrating when he delivers a lengthy speech in the middle of a chapter which, while true and insightful, still kills the momentum. So if I was gonna diagnose Gaddis' third, I'd say it was great at analyzing the big but missed out on the small, where the Recognitions and JR exemplified both. Still, as a broadening of JR's cultural critique and an example of how you incorporate symbols and structural experimentation into your fiction, it's as brilliant as anything else Gaddis wrote. Well worth the couple days it'll take to read, but held back in some ways.

  • Tony
    2019-04-18 05:51

    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: Vietnam vets, politicians, the CIA, the media. A lot of it resonated, although served in caricature form. Gaddis is too angry to display the humor found in most satire. It's almost as if the reader isn't sure he's allowed to laugh. Here:--Oh! she pulled away, up on that damned elbow again --have you read Faulkner much?--A long time ago. If then.--What?--Never mind. He'd sat straight up, one foot off to the floor.--But, I mean don't you like Faulkner?--I don't like Faulkner. I don't dislike Faulkner. He'd got hold of his trousers, --I just don't know why in the hell we're talking about Faulkner.........--I mean I didn't mean to upset you about Faulkner I thought you were talking about Faulkner, and I mean I don't know if I've read Faulkner much either. Except The Heart of Darkness, I think I read that once.It's Elizabeth who, in that post-coital dialogue, is confounded. She is chatting and annoying McCandless, who is definitely not her husband Paul. Paul never hits her, but his bullying lashes harder. It was painful to watch, really.--Just asked you if there's any God damn mail, ask you if there's mail if there's been any calls we don't even know what time it is, here... he turned to obliterate Haydn's Notturno number five in C nagging at his back with a twist of the dial that brought them words of hope for hemorrhoid sufferers everywhere, --find out what the hell time it is... and he put down his glass but held to it, tight, against a sudden tremor in his hand.This novel is like a play, in that everything happens inside the Carpenter's Gothic house that Paul and Elizabeth are renting from McCandless. The rooms? They're where Americans go to unravel. McCandless, a geologist maybe, could tell you, and actually did tell you, that the unraveling is not new, and will not end when the house falls down.

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-21 11:40

    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, fake Bible schools, fake holy water out of the Pee Dee River spreading typhus, a bought-and-paid-for senator, an armed ''Christian survival camp,'' fake identities (Paul, pretending to be a WASP Southerner, is probably a Jew), the mugger Paul kills. Plot is what Mr. Gaddis travesties and teases and two-times and swindles."Which can be found here: a side note, if you a reading this and have not read any of her books, please rectify the situation immediately as she is a genius. The Puttermesser Papers is a masterpiece.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-03-24 04:45

    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 turrets and towers, they're pointlessly tall but rarely spread out into all that land that American houses have to spread out into. The inside is a hodgepodge, because what the architects cared about was how it looked from the outside. So the rooms are divided in irrational, silly and unhelpful ways; there are false walls and weird shapes. Examples of neo-gothic include Westminster in London and the Cologne Cathedral. It's often considered to be an adjunct of political or theological conservatism, vs the liberalism of neo-classical architecture. You can't actually squash such buildings down into a house shape, and nor should you. Gothic is a literary mode that Austen mocked wonderfully well in Northanger Abbey, and that lives on in various forms today (i.e., all that vampire and werewolf fiction). The original gothic novels often take place in a neo-gothic country manor, and involve (doomed) romance and fantastic or inexplicable events, with improbable, convoluted plots and twists. You see where this is headed: CG takes place in a 'carptenter's gothic' (modern American analogue of the) country manor. It involves romance, an improbable, convoluted plot, and a mysterious concluding twist. But whereas gothic authors will either leave the actual cause of the mysteries unclear (think: James' 'Turn of the Screw'), or explained them as simple natural phenomena, Gaddis explains the mysteries by way of American overseas neo-colonialism and general masculine stupidity. Using old literary forms in new ways to criticize real world things gets me very hot under the collar (compare also: McCarthy's use of epic tropes in 'Blood Meridian' and Robinson's use of spiritual autobiography in 'Gilead'). But I get positively *steamy* when a novel includes very little descriptive prose, a lot of dialogue, rants about the state (i.e., bad) of the world, and a high degree of irony about its own heart-felt rants. Check, check, check. Liz sits in the middle of an awkward love quadrangle, between her husband Paul, drunken self-righteous mansplainer and general symbol for American litigiousness, fiscal religiosity, rapaciousness, and (borderline) rape; her landlord McCandless, a hopeless self-righteous liberal who owns the carptenter's gothic and knows everything but does nothing because everything's f*cked anyway, and whose rants about other people's guilt make very clear that he's as guilty as the rest of us if not more so; and her brother Billy, a grasping self-righteous post-hippy who is *totally* not to blame for his own failures. They all insist on being very, very different from each other but the differences are minimal to non-existent: they hector Liz at every opportunity, about different things, sure, but that makes no difference to her as she lies around more or less incapable of leaving her house except to see a doctor. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the United States of America, designed to look like a grand, albeit conservative Olde Europe, but from the inside nothing but a mess, inhabited by the sick/dying, and three kinds of self-righteous horror. McCandless screams with rage that "the greatest source of anger is fear, the greatest source of hatred is anger and the greatest source of all of it is this mindless revealed religion anywhere you look", and, from within his locked room in the carpenter's gothic mansion, mocks "their deep religious convictions and that's what they are, they're convicts locked up in some shabby fiction doing life without parole". He's right that religious violence is revolting, right that the endemic conflicts of Africa are down to "money from the West and guns from the East," but won't do anything about it. As Liz finally tells him, "you're the one who wants Apocalypse... you're the one who can't wait! The brimstone and fire and your Rift like the day it really happened because they, because you despise their, not their stupidity, no, their hopes because you haven't any, because you haven't any left." Liberal America. Paul is more or less incoherent and concerned only with greed and the conspiratorial liberal god-damned media who have all the power... with the powerless, useless McCandless as their representative. American Conservatives. Billy hates his father, tries to solve the problems in African and (spoiler) dies in a plane crash. American Radicals. So in short, Gaddis is smarter than us, writes better than almost anyone alive (if you even kind of like DFW, read Gaddis, who got in earlier, did it better, and knows much more about the world), and is funnier than almost everyone. Of his three first books, this is the worst. Just imagine that: this is just okay by Gaddis's standards.

  • Russell
    2019-04-12 12:07

    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
    2019-03-28 09:40

    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 entrecortadas, aceleradas, que conformarán un puzzle, donde poco a poco, vamos poniendo como buenamente podemos, las piezas que faltan, para obtener finalmente una visión panorámica y comprensiva.En un momento determinado Liz nombra a Faulkner. La prosa de Gaddis me recuerda a esa novela de Faulkner (El ruido y la furia), porque aquí hay mucho ruido de fondo, muchísimo. Nos quejamos ahora de la omnipresencia de las redes sociales, de la tabarra a la que nos someten los whatsapp, pero antes de esto que es ya el pan nuestro de cada día, existía el teléfono fijo, y en este libro, éste, no deja de sonar machaconamente. Será a través de esas, casi interrumpidas, llamadas de teléfono, mediante las visitas del hermano de Liz y del hombre que les ha alquilado la casa, de lo que se servirá Gaddis, a través de este microscosmos, de esta condensación del plano espacial y temporal, para darnos su particular visión del mundo, mediante una galería de personajes de lo más variopinto, turbios y siniestros, que hablan de todo y todo el tiempo, y que le permiten al autor sacar a colación asuntos como el imperialismo americano, el colonialismo, la esquilmación de África por Occidente, los medios de prensa vendidos al poder, las organizaciones como la CIA O FBI que viven y actúan al margen de la ley, la codicia desmedida, la deriva del dejar hacer, la banalidad de los clases pudientes, la religión católica, sus cruces de fuego y su cálices de sangre, la infidelidad como superación de la insatisfacción sexual, entre otros muchos temas.Leer a Gaddis es como ponerte un orinal en la cabeza y golpearte luego la testa con un martillo de caucho.Gaddis impregna su prosa de un sutil sentido del humor, de mucha ironía, y pergeña una crítica rotunda, contra los males de una sociedad codiciosa y podrida desde sus raíces, con un ritmo acelerado, angustiante, como si el tiempo fuera una bomba de relojería y hubiera que arreglar el mundo en unas pocas horas, como si en lugar de elegir entre cortar el cable rojo o el cable azul, uno solo tuviera un puñado de hojas y un par de bolígrafos con lo que tratar de arreglar este desaguisado. Y todo esto que Gaddis nos cuenta en su novela, vale tanto para los años 70 y 80 como para el momento que vivimos. Novela por tanto vigente y atemporal.

  • Lee Foust
    2019-03-26 08:44

    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 tossed down the side of Mt. Everest and it just keeps on building in intensity, ire, and bitter honesty until the series of wallops that make up the ending. Totally unlike either The Recognitions or JR. Superb. Dramatic. Politically perspicacious without being polemic--although patriots will hate it as it's about human beings instead of the tin idiots the Republican party keeps shoving illegitimately in our faces.And, to coin a cliche, the problems it examines are still with us today only moreso (Groucho Marx), only deeper, only more desperate. Writing this on Memorial Day--or should I say, State-Sanctioned Terrorist day?This little Iran-Contra novel would go well read side-by-side with American Psycho. The 1980's, the decade of American psychosis at home and abroad. Despite Ronnie's Alzheimer's some of our authors remembered not to forget the decade that toyed with death as a distraction from materialism and, if possible, as a means of generating more revenue.

  • Stephen Durrant
    2019-04-19 11:50

    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 reconstructed from the accounts of these unreliable, self-obsessed speakers. This is not an easy read, but it is definitely a work of talent. One can understand how some critics argued that early Pynchon works were really written by Gaddis under a pseudonym! The vision here is bleak, with the ranting characters representing different American voices. The two most important are Paul, a archetypal American con-man, who is trying to ride a wave of right-wing religious fanaticism to his own personal advantage, and McCandless, who feels that all religious belief can be dismissed as dangerous stupidity. Caught between these two voices is Paul's abused wife Liz, who is basically trying to keep some grasp on reality in a world gone made. McCandless manages to strike some tones that will reverberate with readers of my background: "Revealed truth is the one weapon stupidity's got against intelligence and that's what the whole damned thing is about" (p183). For more direct attacks on my childhood religion see pp. 128, 157, 186 and elsewhere. Why only three stars? If one reads the strange labels that go with the "Goodreads" system, one discovers that three stars means "I liked it" and five stars "it was amazing." Well, in its own way this books is "amazing" . . . but I was glad when it was over, can't say I liked it all that much . . . so what does one do?

  • Teresa Proença
    2019-04-12 11:02

    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 mulher......a mulher cozinha as refeições, enquanto ouve os lamentos, reclamações e relatos insuportáveis e repetitivos do marido......o marido viaja muito e vem o senhorio que vai para a cama com a mulher e antes durante e depois fala fala fala....(Coitada da senhora...)Gostei da estrutura da narrativa, embora exija muita concentração, e gostei da escrita de Gaddis.Aborreceu-me muito o teor das conversas das personagens: política, guerra, dinheiro, religião, corrupção,...(Coitada de mim...)

  • Aiden Heavilin
    2019-04-04 08:44

    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 "The Dark Continent" and claimed it was "Christian fundamentalists" who made the continent dark. In the end, Carpenter's Gothic is a book of complaining; Characters complain about each other, about life, about religion, about anything they can put their hands to. Worse, the "plot" as is contains an incredibly convoluted conspiracy that robs the book of the clarity which might have rescued it. The book is told primarily in dialogue, and although Mr. Gaddis has been roundly praised for "realistic dialogue", I found it very difficult to believe. The characters are caricatures, cowering, oppressed wives or blustery, cantankerous husbands who are constantly lighting cigarettes and muttering to each other about money-problems. The dialogue struck me as having been sapped of all the life and strangeness that inhabits real world conversations.I generally would say I read fiction to gain new experiences, such as the type offered in certain dreams, sensations I have truly not felt before. Carpenter's Gothic merely presents a cruel world lacking not merely hope, but also any ideas or reflections that might offer a new perspective on unhappy marriages and stress-filled modern life. In the end, this book does not present a new or interesting perspective on the world, it doesn't even attempt to present it realistically; instead it drains life of its energy and vivaciousness, leaving only a sad dead husk of empty dialogue and angry complaints against the forces they cannot control.I think of David Foster Wallace's magnificent "The Pale King"; that book too presented harried, stressed people, unhappy marriages, and the drudgery of modern life. Yet rather than raging and complaining about these evils, Wallace sought to remedy them, to provide a way out, to show us how to navigate the shoals of boredom. Gaddis in "Carpenter's Gothic" only outlines (rather poorly), the problem; it never even attempts an answer.

  • Simon Robs
    2019-04-17 09:00

    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 prob.INTERVIEWERCarpenter’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 observes the unities of time and place to the point that everything, even though it expands into the world, takes place in one house, and a country house at that, with a small number of characters, in a short span of time. It became really largely an exercise in style and technique. And also, I wanted to take all these clichés of fiction to bring them to life and make them work. So we have the older man and the younger woman, the marriage breaking up, the obligatory adultery, the locked room, the mysterious stranger, and so forth.

  • David
    2019-04-11 03:48

    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
    2019-04-02 09:02

    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 способен.По сравнению с «Джей-Ар», третий роман Гэддиса — вещь практически камерная, эдакий музыкальный нуар (упс, мне кажется, получился спойлер), прозрачная и гораздо более доступная для понимания. Однако пристальное внимание Гэддиса к мелкому мусору неинтересных американских жизней — то же самое, что у Дона Делилло в «Белом шуме», — конечно, создает определенный комический эффект, но в этом и перчатка, бросаемая читателю. Он вообще пишет не для слабонервных или брезгливых и полностью отчуждает свои тексты от нашего сострадания. Но, по сравнению с Делилло, все это звучит гораздо убедительнее, потому что у Гэддиса гораздо меньше литературных фильтров — он не «пишет» линейно, он конструирует из detritus unadorned.Интересно еще и другое. Особенность текущего момента на этих территориях такова, что практически все читаемое из нормальной литературы, воспринимается как актуальный комментарий к этому самому моменту, вне зависимости от того, когда было написано. Так и тут. Наступление темных веков, клерикализация сознания, мракобесие под видом образования. Штаты это пережили полвека назад (переживают и сейчас, но не с такой остротой явно), а .рф из этого состояния не выберется, видимо, никогда. Влияние жупела, будь то марксизм или православие, на массовое сознание соотечественников по-прежнему огромно. Это для любой власти очень выгодно, конечно, — такая манипуляция сознанием в массовом масштабе. Об этом, в частности, нам рассказывает и «Плотницкая готика».Африка ХХ века в романе — довольно точный образ того, что происходит сейчас между .рф и Украиной: полностью оболваненное население пытается выжить под натиском обезьян с ракетными комплексами с обеих сторон. Гэддис отчеканил по этому поводу прекрасную формулировку: «Глупость — сознательно культивированное невежества». Невежество лечится, глупость — нет. Ко всему относится, между прочим, хоть это знание и не утешает.

  • david blumenshine
    2019-04-17 08:51

    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 gaddis uses to win each time out. in regards to the story it felt like it didn't go far enough, or lingered in between idea and consummation, though, again, such is life, especially with the characters gaddis used. perhaps that is a literary cop out, but, it's gaddis, so he easily gets benefit of doubt. i just selfishly wanted more upfront action, and felt let down upon conclusion. still very much worth my time, and rhythmically it moved at a good pace.

  • Hadrian
    2019-04-01 05:54

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

  • Thomas Jacob Jr.
    2019-03-25 04:57

    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 normally associated with those works that play with what we, as readers, understand as a 'standard' or 'typical' narrative form and structure. Generally speaking, a plot has a beginning, middle and an end, with various characters entering and exiting the fray who propel the plot through its various complications and climaxes before eventually coming to some kind of conclusion. A postmodern work (again, depending on who you ask, because I am still convinced that there isn't exactly a universally-accepted definition yet), will screw around with these conventions. For those ostensibly associated with that anomalous mass known as 'the academy', there are plenty of authors who exemplify this whole idea. A big one is Mark Z. Danielewski, who includes crazy typographical design, stories within stories (i.e. footnotes and appendices revealing parallel narratives to the main text), and a certain level of meta-ness to the plot, into his works, especially the outstanding 'House of Leaves'. On the other end of the spectrum would be guys like Thomas Pynchon, who merely tell their stories in a tangential manner, and seem to eschew the traditional manners of characterization and setting. I happen to consider both writers among the upper echelon of living authors. William Gaddis gets lumped in with this 'postmodern' school of literature, and upon my completion of 'Carpenter's Gothic' (an arduous journey), I can respect and understand this association, even if the end result left me jaded. Let me explain. This was my first experience with Gaddis' work, and the primary reason I chose 'Gothic' as my introduction was the length. I have 'JR' and 'The Recognitions' sitting adjacent on my bookshelf, and after completing Pynchon's 'Against the Day' (one of the best things I've ever read), I felt that another 700+ page behemoth might be a bad idea. 'Gothic' clocks in at a relatively prim 280 pages, over 90% of which is made up of unattributed dialogue, although 'argument' may be a better term. Indeed, many other reviewers here have likened the form of the prose here to be much more in line with that of a play. Save for a handful of scenic descriptions which often bookend the long, loooooong chapters, the text consists primarily of an argument between two characters in a room.Respect where respect is due -- this is a damn authentic representation of real-world dialogue. Therein lies the crux of the problem. The manner in which the plot is doled out is challenging at best and frustrating at worst, with small asides uttered by our small ensemble of characters alluding to the greater machinations propelling the background story forward. There are some really great ideas going on here, and in a different frame of mind I may have found the entire experience pretty thrilling. I like a challenge and I crave the unorthodox in literature. But I also need a good story. Paul and Liz, the two characters with the most screen time here, become borderline insufferable to listen to well before the halfway mark. Paul in particular will make you grind your teeth and get your heart pumping with the terrible way he talks to and treats Liz. Of course this can be interpreted as success by the writer in establishing a great antagonist. But it just didn't translate to an enjoyable reading experience -- which, at the end of the day, is how I will judge any literary work, regardless of its brilliant use of metaphor or distinction of style. My favorite part of the plot, oddly enough, was the interlude halfway through between the owner of the house, the poetic and mysterious Mr. McCandless, and another mysterious figure and possible former student, Lester. Their exchange, taking place among the piles of artifacts, books and research cluttering up the garage of the house, is steeped in suspense, in contrast to much of the rest of the novel. Style over substance seems to be the overhanging mantra here. I respect the hell out of Gaddis for his complicated and unique style of prose, and despite my relative misanthropy for 'Carpenter's Gothic', I have not given up entirely and still very much look forward to tackling 'The Recognitions' in due time. There are things I really enjoyed about this book. But it was a slog, plain and simple. Going back to my contextualization of the term postmodernism, the ambiguity of the novel's plot and its characters, for me, overrode the mastery of style, rendering my reading experience a mostly joyless one.

  • Griffin Alexander
    2019-03-31 04:57

    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 people are made like sketches asymptotically approaching the graceful archetype of the Old World's stone-and-mortar-Gothic permanence, but that the rooms of the ideological building itself are filled in shoddy and after-the-fact without forethought and with second-rate building materials. It is all about the appearance of organized grace, and none of the substantive or sustainable planning that goes into making a structure that is truly lasting.All of the characters, and we as readers, are implicated in these motions of what Gaddis seems to see as intellectual failure and moral hypocrisy—our reading itself shifts along with whichever voice speaks as it spouts its own sketch of how the world comes together (all the details behind the architectual elevation are secondary to the niceties of the elevation itself, its own convincing sense of unity and solidity, really how good it sounds to the ear, and the dialogue here [of which the book mostly is] certainly sings). It makes for conspiratorial (and actually very gripping) reading trying to figure out who is fooling who in the backroom-deals of politics, business, and truth, but what it really ends up convincing you in its resolve is that it ultimately makes no difference who "wins" because they all eventually consume one another. The reader is left in mind with the emblem which began Gaddis' literary career: the Ouroboros. It is the selfsame Ouroboros of our shifting illusions which can always offer us a different perspective but can never deliver us from the hell we make for each other in the process.As an addendum: this book is about so so SO much more than that America "really, really, really sucks" as Jonathan Franzen flippantly summarized this entire book in his infamous essay on Gaddis. It is worth reading, and its loss of a star on my part as reviewer is simply due to how bleak the whole thing ends up—it's disheartening! Franzen was correct in the above-mentioned essay in that regard: Gaddis never got soft, only more vitriolic and bitter—which is not to say he's any worse at what he does, just harder to swallow.

  • Anna
    2019-03-27 09:53

    dialogue constantly surges forward, relentless. i see now why they mention gaddis when reviewing books by david foster wallace.the 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
    2019-03-23 09:39

    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
    2019-04-09 11:54

    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 surroundings like the opening paragraphs describing how the neighboring kids are using a dead dove for the ball in their game of stickball. Carpenter's gothic is the name for a charming old house built for how it looks on the outside but the interior was only designed to fit within the space created. And nothing quite works right inside. It's also a metaphor for the way the characters act as if they are wealthy and powerful but are losing their wealth to the lawyers managing their aging demented parents' estate. Fascade of the wealthy. Reality is only inserted around page 150 when the geologist who owns the house shows up. He's traveled extensively, especially in Africa where there's a race on to mine all the mineral wealth in the continent.

  • Gabriel
    2019-04-07 12:04

    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 (aunque el verismo en los diálogos no sea la principal característica de la ficción posmoderna). La novela está construida en diálogos e intervenciones jamás intrusivas del narrador. Los personajes principales pueden contarse con los dedos de una mano y toda la acción transcurre dentro de las paredes de una antigua casa construida en el estilo que da título al libro. Paul y su esposa Liz se han mudado a esta casa. Él trabaja como relacionista del reverendo Ude, que está metido en un lío tras haber ahogado a un niño al bautizarlo. Paul está tratando de convertir el crimen en una manifestación divina. Liz intenta por todos los medios conseguir que un médico la diagnostique de algo grave como consecuencia de un accidente que tuvo y así defraudar a su compañía de seguros. Ella tiene un problemático hermano, Billy, a quien Paul detesta pues lo considera un rojo (se entiende que es un caviar porque él y Liz provienen de una familia rica y eso hace que a Paul le caiga peor). El personaje más enigmático de la obra es McCandless, dueño de la casa, quien tiene un cuarto apartado en ella al que solo él tiene acceso en donde guarda un montón de libros y documentos de su pasado de los que quiere apoderarse un antiguo colega. El problema es que sin la ayuda de McCandless descifrar esos documentos sería imposible. En la novela hay hechos que ocurren fuera de la casa, pero todos ellos son contados desde la casa por los personajes que la habitan y sobre todo por un objeto decisivo en la historia: el teléfono. En cualquier historia si alguien habla por teléfono se puede oír (por la magia de la literatura y la voluntad del narrador) lo que el interlocutor dice a través del auricular, pero en Gótico Carpintero, Gaddis no nos concede ni un solo parlamento a través de la línea, todo lo inferimos por lo que el personaje en la casa contesta. He aquí una de las pruebas de la maestría del autor a la hora de trabajar la palabra oral. Por momentos podríamos pensar incluso que Gaddis escribió los diálogos provenientes del teléfono en un primer borrador, para luego, en la edición definitiva quitarlos y dejarlos a la imaginación del lector, de manera que ni siquiera tenga que imaginarlos completos para saber de qué trata la conversación o nos dé por lo menos curiosidad saber lo que el otro dice. Nos convertimos en esas personas que aguardan con angustia mientras otro habla por teléfono, adivinando todo lo que escucha solo mediante lo que responde y nos basta su lado de la conversación para saberlo todo. De esta manera nos enteramos de cosas que no están del todo claras, pero que son cruciales para los personajes: conspiraciones, manipulación, lobbies, el uso de la religión protestante como una falange de represión en las manos del poder político y promoción de la estupidez a favor de las grandes corporaciones. Hay personajes implícitos, que jamás toman parte en la acción, pero que están ahí debajo y son fundamentales en la historia, aunque no figuren en la parte del iceberg que podemos observar desde la superficie de esta genial novela. Las memorables reflexiones y frases de McCandless son de una lógica tan precisa como de un humor caustico y oscuro. Los rodeos que le da a Lester, quien busca desesperadamente lo que cree que McCandless oculta, son motivo de una sonrisa cómplice en el lector. Esta novela es una sátira que despelleja con hierros calientes la moral americana, la religión de bandera y todas las herramientas de miedo utilizadas por los poderosos, frente a la ceguera individualista del espíritu norteamericano en el que cada ciudadano persigue sus sueños por encima de los de cualquiera, que considera que el mundo está perdido sin la ayuda de la nación más poderosa y su evangelio de la democracia, las buenas nuevas del intervencionismo militar y la salvación eterna al precio de los diamantes y el petróleo de países pobres en conflicto. Nadie se salva, ni siquiera la hipocresía de los premios Pulitzer que el narrador critica como un premio a la invasión de la privacidad y la inmediatez. Considero esta novela una obra fundamental para entender la crisis moral y económica por la que atraviesa el país del norte, una sociedad devastada por la ambición política, corporativa y religiosa de unos líderes fanáticos de un dios de color verde y cara de presidente muerto.

  • Sebastian
    2019-04-04 07:39

    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" corporate job and a crumbling family, McCandless is a portrait of an elder Gaddis: a brilliant man with endless venom directed against all the injustice and, most importantly, stupidity that surrounds him, but who has given up any hope of setting things right. The scenes with characters attacking the all-too-obvious flaws of McCandless (his endless self-righteous rants, his pedantic nature, his use of women, his targetless romanticism of art, his failed efforts at fiction) strike me as some of the most powerful writing from Gaddis that I have ever read. While the satire in this book is funny, make no mistake that the world it portrays is almost unbearably dark, angry, stupid, and ultimately beyond any hope of redemption. Any lingering hope of a new beginning or transcendence through art or a decision to "live deliberately" from The Recognitions, has been erased in the world Gaddis portrays. He is so brutal on himself and the culture around him that I can only imagine what a miserable person he was to live with during the years he worked in the corporate world. This is not light reading, and perhaps not even a book I could recommend to someone without a previous familiarity with Gaddis, but it is powerful and compelling.

  • pierlapoquimby
    2019-04-08 10:55

    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 interessi minerari in Africa, alla televisione del reverendo Ude, avrei preferito che rimanessero lì, nelle pieghe di quelle interminabili e inconcludenti discussioni, assieme ai gesti di Liz (che somiglia un po' alla Magda di Bianco, Rosso e Verdone e per tutto il romanzo sono rimasto in attesa che sbottasse e interrompesse il continuo farfugliare di Paul per dirgli: 'vuoi tacere una buona volta? Tacii cazzo! Capezzone TAAACIIIII!'), alle telefonate degli sconosciuti, alle parcelle dei dottori, alle cause di risarcimento, ma poi hanno preso troppo spazio, Gaddis ci ha voluto dire troppo - anzi, far ascoltare troppo - e allora no, non mi è bastato saperne solo a chiacchiere.Peccato, sarebbero state cinque stelle.(edit 2018: che fine avrà mai fatto Capezzone?)

  • David
    2019-03-26 08:47

    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 at only 262 pages, Carpenter’s Gothic does demand stamina. But few authors allow themselves to get so close to everyday brutality and desperation as Gaddis, and the bravery of his artistry is inspiring.

  • Joel
    2019-03-26 06:47

    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 force the reader to be an active participant, this yields mixed results, as one ends up struggling with the (relatively uninteresting) nuts and bolts of the thing, rather than the substance of it.

  • William
    2019-04-13 04:45

    ...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 scale...So 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 number of wonderful environmental descriptions which enhance the various themes found in gothic literature. This is probably Gaddis' most accessible I'd say.

  • Rob
    2019-04-11 04:44

    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 Fiction, make it five times as smart and twice as funny, and make it last an entire novel. that's this book.

  • Roy Kesey
    2019-04-08 09:04

    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.