- Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (166 pages)
- McCarthy, Cormac — Blood Meridian (334 pages)
- Moore, Alan & Dave Gibbons — Watchmen (399 pages)
- Moore, Christopher — Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (507 pages)
- Murger, Henri — The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (381 pages)
- Walk with Me: A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009 (98 pages)
- Douglas, Lloyd C. — The Robe (438 pages)
- Robinson, Marilynne — Gilead (281 pages)
- Jerome, Jerome K. — Three Men in a Boat (182 pages)
- Satrapi, Marjane — Persepolis (343 pages)
- Dodge, Jim — Fup (121 pages)
Page count: 3250.
Fup has been described as modern allegory, a scurrilous parable, a fairy tale, a fable. I have no clue how to describe Fup, except to agree that it is splendidly Fup Duck!
I cannot tell you how much I've enjoyed this book, and I wish the experience had lasted more than a few hours.
The story revolves around three main characters: "Granddaddy Jake" Santee, his grandson "Tiny," and Fup the Duck. The dynamic between these three characters, the roles they play in each other's lives, is priceless. Each character really comes to life with surprising vividness, given the slimness of this book, especially Jake. It was a real joy reading about this irrascible sumbitch and his temper, his luck with gambling, his bad luck with women, and his homemade whiskey, "Ol' Death Whisper."
The ending is something else again. Well, the whole book, all 121 pages, is something else. But while the bulk of it will have you guffawing and grinning like a kid, it's the last few pages that will make you sit back in awe and reflect.
Dodge's style has been compared to that of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, Melville, Pynchon, and even Oscar Wilde. (In fact, some think he is Pynchon, the way Kilgore Trout was Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.) I can't comment on the Pynchon, as I only read two pages of his before I forever walked away exasperated. And I don't really see the Wilde comparison, though I'm not as familiar as I'd like to be: perhaps it's for the wit and the transformation and absolution (if that's what it is) that occur at the end, as in A Picture of Dorian Gray. I'm not sure if the comparison to Steinbeck is warranted, outside of capturing the poetry of rough folk living in California. Dodge probably only gets the Twain comparisons for his nationality and wit, and the Melville comparison again for nationality and the embodiment of human traits in an animal that takes on mythic proportions. The Hemingway comparison I can (almost) see: though not sparse as Hemingway's, Dodge's narrative is a very matter-of-fact third person account, and Fup has an almost Old Man and the Sea quality to it. However, the two works Fup most reminded me of, and I'm surprised I didn't see these comparisons made anywhere, were Faulkner's "The Bear" and Márquez' "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," for the way they deal with mortality and loss and the fairy tale-like, mythic qualities in each.
However one might describe Fup and whoever one might compare Dodge to, I can assure you of one thing: reading Fup is a great way to spend a few hours. You will not regret cracking this one open. In fact, I wish more of you would read it, so we could discuss it. This is one book I won't be giving away, as I look forward to reading it again and again.