Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Carpenter’s Gothic
William Gaddis


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 the still center of the breakneck action – revealed in Gaddis’s inimitable virtuoso dialogue – 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!

Paperback, 288pp
Penguin Books US, 1999 (1985)
ISBN 9780141182223