Chris Genoa,
(Eraserhead, 2005)

Foop! features a blind hog-tying monkey, a levitating guru named Ba Hubba Tree Bob, a mad Bingo devotee and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by a tour guide named Joe. And that's not even the funny part.

Hardly a page of Chris Genoa's novel goes by without eliciting at least a chuckle, and if you can get through the first third of the book without at least one full-sized hoot, than I feel sorry for your dinner companions. But Genoa earns his laughs by a willingness to make his story hurt. Joe's entire life is a parody of urbanized alienation, a workaday existence spent waiting in lines among throngs of people who never see him, either in the jaded world of his present or in the unstable time travel journeys on which he serves as tour guide.

His isolation is taken to the point of the absurd, and drives off it into the realm of the painful. The basic human urge for contact is as driving a force in Joe's life as his often demonstrated apathy, and the lack of any more self-serving ambition makes an otherwise unappealingly weak character into a truly sympathetic being. Anyone who's ever felt alone, even for a day, will feel the echoes of Joe's constant need to connect, and his inability to share social contact for more than a second. There have been comparisons of Genoa to Douglas Adams, but his painful satire of personal tragedy creates an attitude more reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's satires.

But such sociological angst is never allowed to rise to the fore. Genoa has an innate understanding of how much sugar is needed to coat a bitter pill, and he keeps the laughs coming to the very end. Joe isn't the only person living a life of quiet madness; there's a crazy Bingo connoisseur, a bathroom-haunting ghost and a pot-bellied cult leader. And there are the mysterious Duo, responsible for some of the finest scenes in a very funny book. Everyone plays their limited roles to the hilt. Even the packaging seems designed for laughs. Beyond the brilliant cover, there are the in-book ads. A proud promotion for Dead Bitch Army, to name one, seems laughably out of place alongside the aching satire of Foop!

Hilarious, sad and intriguing to the core, Foop! may be too good for our own time; my own copy keeps vanishing to parts and borrowers unknown. Grab a copy for yourself, and keep an eye on it. It's livelier than you'd expect.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 30 July 2005

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