Synopses & Reviews
Down on his luck and still pining for his ex-wife, South Carolina taxidermist Romie Futch spends his evenings drunkenly surfing the Internet before passing out on his couch. In a last-ditch attempt to pay his mortgage, he replies to an ad and becomes a research subject in an experiment conducted by the Center for Cybernetic Neuroscience in Atlanta, Georgia. After "scientists" download hifalutin humanities disciplines into their brains, Romie and his fellow guinea pigs start debating the works of Foucault and hashing out the intricacies of postmodern subjectivity. The enhanced taxidermist, who once aspired to be an artist, returns to his hometown ready to revolutionize his work and revive his failed marriage. As Romie tracks down specimens for his elaborate animatronic taxidermy dioramas, he develops an Ahab-caliber obsession with bagging "Hogzilla," a thousand-pound feral hog that has been terrorizing Hampton County. Cruising hog-hunting websites, he learns that this lab-spawned monster possesses peculiar traits. Pulled into an absurd and murky underworld of biotech operatives, FDA agents, and environmental activists, Romie becomes entangled in the enigma of Hogzilla's origins. Exploring the interplay between nature and culture, biology and technology, reality and art, The New and Improved Romie Futch probes the mysteries of memory and consciousness, offering a darkly comic yet heartfelt take on the contemporary human predicament.
"Displaying the same dark whimsy of her acclaimed short story collection, The Wilds, Elliott's first novel is a farce about a South Carolinian taxidermist hunting a mutant boar. Turning to the bottle and neglecting his business after his wife leaves him, Romie Futch answers an ad looking for subjects willing to receive 'pedagogical downloads' consisting of the OED, Thomas Bernhard, and Derrida, and a number of other abstruse works. Like most liberal arts educations, Romie's comes at an exorbitant cost: putting himself at the mercy of Biofutures, the sinister 'mega-conglomerate' running the experiment. Upon his release, the 'new and improved' Romie tries his hand at art, constructing a series of 'postnatural taxidermic dioramas' that feature mutated animals he captures in the vicinity of a toxic waste dump. He soon develops an Ahab-like obsession with a monstrous, genetically altered pig known as Hogzilla, 'winged and bald, nightmare beast of the future.' Though there is never a dull moment, the bursting narrative generates a sense of fatigue as we follow Romie's mock-epic quest, desultory attempts to throw light on the shady Biofutures, and foray into conceptual art. The novel's neatest trick is aligning Romie's distress over his own future, which once seemed so boundless, with broader anxieties about what environmental and technological monstrosities the 21st century may bring." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
" romps wildly through a land of feral mutants and monsters of a more civilized kind. But at the story's core is a heartsick man who believes he can be better. In this exceptionally imaginative and funny novel, high culture collides with low, the future torments but also soothes, and the grotesque beauty of our humanity shines through it all." Diane Cook, author of MAN V. NATURE
" reminds the cynical, seen-it-all reader sometimes strangeness is enough. Elliott's work . . . contains brilliance." Kirkus
" not only marks the arrival of one of the funniest, smartest, and most unnerving novels you'll read this year, but also a vision for Southern literature that could only have sprung from Julia Elliott's wild, devastating, and wholly original imagination. Consider me a fan for life." Laura van den Berg, author of FIND ME: A Novel
"In her debut novel, South Carolina author Julia Elliott takes us on a freewheeling, Pynchonian adventure through the American South. Recently divorced and mortgaged to the hilt, taxidermist
From the author of , which Publishers Weekly called "a brilliant combination of emotion and grime, wit and horror," comes a debut novel that is part dystopian satire, part Southern Gothic tall tale: a disturbing yet hilarious romp through a surreal New South where newfangled medical technologies change the structure of the human brain and genetically modified feral animals ravage the blighted landscape.
About the Author
Julia Elliott's fiction has appeared in Tin House, the Georgia Review, Conjunctions,