In a review of The Letters of William Gaddis, Paul Griffiths writes that William Gaddis's satire about law and lawyers, A Frolic of His Own, was his "most appealing" work--
Through the late 1980s and early 90s, however, he was clearly having fun, too, writing the legal satire that became A Frolic of His Own. As he read up cases in the eighty-four volumes of American Jurisprudence and corresponded with lawyers, he was putting together an exuberant comedy voiced again largely in dialogue, intercut with court opinions, passages from his Civil War play (whose fictional author is suing a Hollywood studio for breach of copyright) and, as always, long sentences of startling descriptive power. Half the size of The Recognitions or JR, funnier and certainly sunnier than Carpenter’s Gothic, this was his most appealing book.
When I last reported on A Frolic of His Own, I was stuck on page 188. I've now made it to page 310. It's still slow going and I don't pick up the book very often. While parts are incredibly funny, the whole doesn't work for me. Too many details about the law practice seem wrong. Since the parodies of depositions and court opinions don't seem even partially rooted in reality, you end up being distracted rather than entertained. In my opinion, they just don't work. The characters, on the other hand, are very funny, and the whole book is interesting in the way that difficult literature is often interesting--you want to figure out what the writer is up to.
Finally, here's another take on Gaddis by Jonathan Franzen: "Mr. Difficult: William Gaddis and the Problem of Hard-to-Read Books," which first appeared in the New Yorker in 2002--
Gaddis's last real novel, "A Frolic of His Own," rambles on for nearly six hundred pages in illustration of how a system designed to create order (American law) can end up sponsoring disorder. The book is ideal for graduate study. It makes a banal but unexceptionable social point (we litigate too much in America), it's riddled with motifs, quotations, stories within stories, and countless allusions to Gaddis's own earlier works and other famous texts (better brush up on your Plato and Longfellow), and its only aesthetic weakness, really, is that much of it is repetitive, incoherent, and insanely boring. This novel, of course, got the warmest reviews of any of Gaddis's books, and was given one of those unofficial lifetime-achievement National Book Awards.
There's much more about Gaddis in this very interesting essay. (Incidentally, Franzen goes on to say that one of the best things about the A Frolic of His Own is the legal opinions, which proves, I guess, that reactions to parody can vary widely.)