“IF I’D KNOWN WALRUSES were waiting for me on some back road in Florida, I might have taken more of an interest in bowling.” The first sentence of Laurie Foos’s bizarre yet wonderful novel, Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist, gives readers an indication of the novel’s major preoccupations and a taste of its author’s deadpan style. The book’s heroine, Frances Fisk, acquires on the eve of her 18th birthday both a stepfather and a bowling alley, complete with pizza, pins, and polyurethane. Until her mother’s remarriage and the death of her father, a sculptor, Frances traveled in daddy’s world of demented artists and impossible artistic visions; now the change in station proves too much for her, sending her into a depression from which she is unable to recover.
Until she meets the walruses. After seeing two of the libidinous beasts mating at the local aquarium, Frances becomes obsessed with the animals. Walruses, bowling alleys, pizza—only Laurie Foos could seamlessly blend these disparate items into riotous satire. Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist is funny and strange; by its end, it even starts to make sense.
“Brilliant, fresh, and remarkable… a mad tale of a mad genius by a young author who may be a genius herself.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred
“Laurie Foos can shape a novel out of just about anything . . . Her voice is a bold and tuneful guide in a world where nothing seems to fit.”
—New York Times Book Review
“North America no longer needs to bemoan the paucity of female metafiction talents . . . Foos takes off from Jeannette Winterson and goes for the baroque, surreal and witty.”
“Adolescent pain and confusion told with wild satiric exaggeration make for a rare combination.”
—The Boston Globe
Harvest/HBJ / ISBN 978-0156005432 / Paperback $15.00
Coffee House Press / 978-1-56689-057-1 / Hardcover $19.95