The Fat Artist and Other Stories

3.58 based on 62 ratings & 17 reviews on Goodreads.com
Picador

Publication date: 08.09.2016
ISBN: 9781509830329
Number of pages: 0

Synopsis

Benjamin Hale's fiction abounds with a love of language and a wild joy for storytelling. In prose alternately stark, lush, and hallucinatory, occasionally nightmarish and often absurd, the seven stories in this collection are suffused with fear and desire, introducing us to a company of indelible characters reeling with love, jealousy, megalomania, and despair.

As in his acclaimed debut novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, the voices in these stories speak from the margins: a dominatrix whose longtime client, a U.S. congressman, drops dead during a tryst in a hotel room; an addict in precarious recovery who lands a job driving a truck full of live squid; a heartbroken performance artist who attempts to eat himself to death as a work of art. From underground radicals hiding in Morocco to an aging hippie in Colorado in the summer before 9/11 to a young drag queen in New York at the cusp of the AIDS crisis, these stories rove freely across time and place, carried by haunting, peculiar narratives, threads in the vast tapestry of American life.

Weaving a pleasure in the absurd with an exploration of the extraordinary variety of the human condition and the sway our most private selves and hidden pasts hold over us, the stories in The Fat Artist reside in the unnerving intersections between life and death, art and ridicule, consumption and creation.

In the media

From an artist who nearly eats himself to death to a woman who accidentally feeds her baby hallucinogenics . . . Fascinating.
Independent
Tackling the undercurrents of human frailty – those monsters that lurk in the deep lochs of the American psyche – the stories range from Morocco to Montana, and include the tale of a U.S. congressman who expires during a tryst in a hotel room and the adventures of an addict who lands a job driving a truck full of live squid . . . Dazzling talent.
Daily Mail
Hale's well-hewn, often violent tales are saturated with sadness and full of strange, marginal folk, but the thoughts, desires, and failures of these oddball characters are acutely recognizable . . . the reader comes away grateful for the sincerity of their melancholy quests to find meaning, love, and the purposes of their ill-fated lives . . . This book is at once absurd, morbid, melancholy, ridiculous, and disturbing.
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)