“A surreal pie in the face.” So touts Christopher Moore on the front cover of Foop!, an aptly categorized “bizzaro fiction” novel by Chris Genoa. I’m inclined to agree with the pie comment, if for no other reason than I felt like I was being punk’d the entire time I was reading this book. It reminded me of something one of my high school or college peers would have written during a particularly intense experience with a psychotropic drug.
This is not to say I didn’t enjoy this book. After reading “Emily and Einstein,” I needed a good laugh. I definitely got it here. The main character, (Average) Joe, works for Dactyl, Inc., a time-travel tourism company operating in the not-so-distant future. Joe is tasked with the responsibility of traveling back in time and discovering who is torturing younger versions of his boss (who not so secretly hates him) in weird and disturbing ways. He does so with the assistance of a cast of not-so-average characters, including a blind, hog-tying chimp.
The story follows Joe and his quest in such a way that the reader can’t help but laugh in spite of themselves. I was confused through much of the book, but still found myself laughing uncontrollably or picking up my phone to text my friends quotes that literally had me holding my bladder (one, in particular, involving bright beams of light and sexually depraved leprechauns.) For much of the book, Joe’s internal dialogue, in its crass and self-deprecating manner, reminded me of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, but with the over-arching “what the hell?” the reader often experiences when reading Chuck Palahniuk.
Foop! took me an unusually long time to read. I found that if I was tired, or in an environment where I wasn’t able to give the book my full, undivided attention, I’d find myself plodding along, only to have to flip back several pages because I had no idea what was going on. While it is intended to be a social commentary and a dystopian examination of how we as a society could end up if we continue on our current path, only in the last 20 pages or so does anything come together and Foop! begin to make sense. However, by the time you reach that point, your perception of “sense” has been distorted beyond recognition by the rest of the story.
While this book may not have been entirely my cup of tea, it definitely had is merits. As I said, it was side-splittingly funny and Chris Genoa has a style that, while reminiscent of other writers, is completely 100% his own. If you’re in the mood to simultaneously scratch your head, hold your bladder, and resist the urge to vomit, I suggest you give Foop! a try.