From the author of The Wilds, which Publishers Weekly called “a brilliant combination of emotion and grime, wit and horror,” comes a debut novel that is part dystopian satire, part Southern Gothic tall tale: a disturbing yet hilarious romp through a surreal New South where newfangled medical technologies change the structure of the human brain and genetically modified feral animals ravage the blighted landscape.
Down on his luck and still pining for his ex-wife, South Carolina taxidermist Romie Futch spends his evenings drunkenly surfing the Internet before passing out on his couch. In a last-ditch attempt to pay his mortgage, he replies to an ad and becomes a research subject in an experiment conducted by the Center for Cybernetic Neuroscience in Atlanta, Georgia. After “scientists” download hifalutin humanities disciplines into their brains, Romie and his fellow guinea pigs start debating the works of Foucault and hashing out the intricacies of postmodern subjectivity. The enhanced taxidermist, who once aspired to be an artist, returns to his hometown ready to revolutionize his work and revive his failed marriage. As Romie tracks down specimens for his elaborate animatronic taxidermy dioramas, he develops an Ahab-caliber obsession with bagging “Hogzilla,” a thousand-pound feral hog that has been terrorizing Hampton County. Cruising hog-hunting websites, he learns that this lab-spawned monster possesses peculiar traits. Pulled into an absurd and murky underworld of biotech operatives, FDA agents, and environmental activists, Romie becomes entangled in the enigma of Hogzilla’s origins. Exploring the interplay between nature and culture, biology and technology, reality and art, The New and Improved Romie Futch probes the mysteries of memory and consciousness, offering a darkly comic yet heartfelt take on the contemporary human predicament.
Julia Elliott’s fiction has appeared in Tin House, the Georgia Review, Conjunctions, Fence, and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, Best American Fantasy, and Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collection, The Wilds, was chosen by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She is currently working on a novel about hamadryas baboons, a species she has studied as an amateur primatologist. She teaches English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where she lives with her daughter and husband. She and her spouse, John Dennis, are founding members of the music collective Grey Egg.
The New and Improved Romie Futch 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
This is the most fun book I have run across in a LONG time. It's a fast read but also fun, engaging, smart. There is a lot to love here.
The basic story is that Romie Futch is a down on his luck guy,,,no love interest, failing taxidermy business...who tries to raise some money by volunteering for an experimental brain augmentation procedure. The procedure is performed by a shady biotech company which may also be responsible for the existence of Hogzilla, a mutant wild boar that is rumored to be terrorizing a nearby swamp.
The tone of this book is Southern Gothic, making me wonder if I should actually have tried living in the South at some point. It often reminds me of Harry Crews in tone and in the outrageous situations. And given the author's work as a university English teacher, it's no surprise that it has references to literary works like "Ulysses", "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"...and of course, Moby Dick.
In fact there's something for everyone here: hog hunters, taxidermists, advocates of safe gun handling.
Seriously.....give this book a try! I know I will be looking at the author's other work as well.
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