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Gutter Angels contains work from 1994 to the present, all shining a light on buried life in the darkest corner of the darkest alley in Los Angeles, illuminating the force of life erupting through the rubble of the inner city. Fondation drives with precision the way life can tangle good intentions and trip up even the most sure-footed pedestrians. These are compact city fables delivering an anti-moral and a humbling reminder to judge not. With compassion but without pity, with tenderness but without sentimentality, always tough but never cruel, always loving but never blinded by love, always funny but never ironic, Fondation tells the stories of America's cities. Critics have compared Fondation to Dickens, John Dos Passos, Wanda Coleman, Steinbeck, Henry Roth, Henry Miller, Frank Norris, Denis Johnson, and Eminem as he exhibits a wide range of styles sharing laser sharp focus on the depths and heights of humanity: hate and discrimination, sacrifice, and redemption. He's been called a ruthless poet, a supernatural and mystical animal, as complex as Borges and as accessible and engaging as Elmore Leonard. Stories from Angry Nights include "Glass Underfoot" in which tenement tenant Johnny Martins shoots rats as a public service while practicing taking out an enemy and "Blood Relations" where Felice gifts a bottle of Popoff vodka to her homeless brother in exchange for his reading the fortunes of a new boyfriend. Common Criminals, a dark account of Los Angeles alienation in a controlled style that sheds harsh electrifying light on the darkness, contains "Deportation at Breakfast," the most widely anthologized of Fondation's flash fiction stories and "Trying to Get Aids," a raw and twisted love story. In Unintended Consequences, according to critics, Fondation "tells the tale of Everyman, limning the stories of the seldom heard, and often neglected "Greek Chorus," rather than the well-known stories of Oedipus or Antigone." With Martyrs and Holymen, Larry Fondation continues to record gritty stories of city life. Here he has expanded the scope to include the experiences of Angeleno soldiers on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and returning home to LA. When Fallujah is transplanted to Southern California, "survival" can take many meanings, all of them translating into four letter words. Fondation details the scars left by that which does not kill us and tests the notion that we really are left stronger by the experience. The "Working Class" section of Gutter Angels contains twenty-two brief stories published in journals as diverse as Fiction International (experimental fiction) and Flaunt Magazine, a fashion and culture magazine located in Hollywood. His post-realist books of fiction have been called "ensemble novels"-a collage method owing more to Alberto Burri and Robert Rauschenberg than to Henry James. Fondation's characters, striped by poverty of all pretenses, exist in an inner-city world where hope is constructed and joy desperate and limited. For all that, these characters persevere, continue groping for transcendence, looking for-and finding-reasons to go on. "Neither sensationalistic nor unremittingly bleak, Fondation's work is engrossing and entertaining at the same time it is thoroughly horrifying. It should be read not only by those interested in the future of fiction-by anyone interested in the future of this world.
Down & Out Books, 9781643962252, 250pp.
Publication Date: August 30, 2021