Author: Jim Dodge
Genre: Literary Fiction/Novella
Number of Pages: 96
This is another one of those books I never would have known about if I hadn’t found it browsing a the shelves of a thrift store. It’s a real oddball of a novella and it’s kind of hard to explain to people what it’s about, but if you stick with it I think it’s endearing weirdness will win you over. There are only three major characters in Fup, and one of them is a gigantic domesticated duck. The duck (who’s name is Fup) belongs to a young man of imposing size named ‘Tiny,’ who seems to be wired a little bit ‘differently.’
Tiny lives with his larger-than-life beer-swilling grandfather Jake, who spend hours arguing with a rock if it’s existence rubbed him the wrong way. Jake seems to be under the impression that he’s immortal, and he’s lived his whole life like nothing could possibly kill him. He’s a real pain-in-the-ass local eccentric type while Tiny is soft-spoken and minds his own business.
When Tiny brings home a soaked, injured duckling it doesn’t take long for both men to fall in love with it. It soon becomes a permanent fixture in the household with a distinct personality of it’s own, and Tiny takes it with him like a hunting dog to track the wild boar he has a long-standing vendetta against. Meanwhile, Jake tries to teach Fup to fly with little success and the locals cope with being expected to make special allowances for someone’s pet duck.
This book wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but I enjoyed the characters’ shenanigans and in particular how out to lunch the grandpa was. Jake was basically a crotchety old asshole but as I read I couldn’t help but like him anyway. I bet there are people who have family members like him but if so their behavior would ensure they didn’t get invited to any get-togethers.
I enjoyed the majority of the story but I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending, which was very strange. It was the only moment where the narrative completely loses touch with reality (the rest isn’t exactly realistic, but it has more of a ‘tall tale’ vibe) and I’m still not 100% what happened in the last few pages. Overall, though, I’d still recommend it to readers who enjoy stories about strange people who live outside of the mainstream.
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