In recent years it’s seemed that in the world of literature big is best, and in order to qualify as a great work an author has to emulate Tolkien or Tolstoy with sprawling locations, character and interweaving plot strands. So, it’s refreshing to find a little novel that (in terms of size) is more Great Gatsby than War and Peace.
Fup is a colossal 89 pages of style, pace, rhythm, wit, comedy, cruel tragedy, and resolution. The embodiment of quality over quantity. The story centres round the life of a ninety-nine year old professional drinker and gambler, his giant of a son, and the title character – their overly aggressive duck. The only other book that comes close to emulating the style of this modern fable is Tom Baker’s wickedly funny The Boy who Kicked Pigs. It’s a life affirming, Americanised Roald Dahl of a fairy-tale.
Fup is a wonderful story full of richly surreal imagery, a poetic – almost ecological – balance to story and character, with wonderfully textured (Quentin Blake-esqe) illustrations by Harry Horse. This is one of these rare little books you’ll want to read again, and again, and again.
How do you describe it? This little pearl is the kind of book you pass round all your friends and family, satisfied in the knowledge that they will forever be in your debt for bringing something so dazzling into their lives. It gives you the feeling you get when you put on an old a comfy old jacket, and find a tenner in the pocket.
Jim Dodge recently said “I only want to be famous for a 100 miles. I had my moment of American fame with Fup…and found it distracting to the point of distortion.” I hope the rest of his writing is as good as Fup, and for his sake it gets less attention than it clearly deserves.