The hard, nutty core of "Foop!" is incomprehensibility. Also, surreal
zaniness, lots and lots of zaniness. It's not the light-hearted
zaniness of Terry Pratchett, nor the sarcastic, world-weary zaniness
of Douglas Adams. It's the zaniness of desperation, the way you feel
when you need to be alone and you're in the middle of a city and don't
have a place to hide. The book is filled with lines like, "He sat at
my kitchen table with Betty---who he insisted on carrying from the
Bingo Hall to my apartment on his shoulders, just to prove to me he
could do it," and then the whole chapter takes place as interjections
in the stream of insane babble pouring from bit-part Betty, who
promptly disappears from the book at the end of the chapter.
The main character, Joe, is adrift in the sea of life desperate for
meaningful contact with humanity. So is the rest of the world, and
though they are all continually talking to each other, pretty much
zero bits are actually communicated---every conversation has two
people talking past one another, each one interpreting every word
according to their own preconceptions. The world that Mr. Genoa
paints is an epitome of disconnected urbanity, where everybody wanders
lonely in a crowd until they die.
I kinda dug it.
Unfortunately, it doesn't particularly have a plot. If this bugs you,
stay far away from this book. I kept wondering whether Mr. Genoa was
going to magically pull everything together at the end and I'd look
back and see that it all made sense after all. It didn't happen.
Sure, everything connects together mostly, but both Joe and the reader
following him basically ricochet from situation to situation out of
control, reacting instinctively to whatever dysfunctional environment
If you leave aside the plot and just consider the book as a collection
of sketch pieces, though, it really shines. Among other things, it
includes by far the strangest, least sexy sex scene I've ever come
across in a book---the characters actually end up screwing one another
accidentally. It must be read to be believed. There's also a
beautiful diatribe on the rules of staring and contact on the subway,
an expository piece on Joe's combinatoric breakfasts, a point-by-point
comparison of the pros and cons of coffee shops and bars, and the most
obnoxious magic trick ever invented.
Deciding what I think of this book isn't easy. On the one hand, the
plot-line is post-modern, disjointed and, frankly, doesn't make much
sense. On the other hand, the prose is a lot of fun, and Mr. Genoa's
mind works in very interesting ways.
In the end, "Foop!" is not a book for the faint-hearted: don't read it
for the resolution, read it for the journey and be prepared for a