Gaddis's second-shortest novel, Carpenter's Gothic relates the words and occasional actions, in one house, of an ex-soldier, confederate apologist, and pathological liar; his neglected and ineffectual wife; and a visitor with a mysterious past who resembles in many ways Gaddis himself. The book is notable mainly for its strict fugue-like nature, as each character pursues his own themes in conversation and in action, often without reference to anything said or done by the others.
- "Finally realize you can't leave things better than you found them the best you can do is try not to leave them any worse . . ." (p. 230)
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