Larry Fondation was a union organizer before his books of fiction were published to critical acclaim both in the United States and in France. Fondation’s weapon is extreme short form fiction. Sex and violence comprise much of the action, but rather than being a means to an end, each story feels like the culmination of an ancient parade of sins held up in a stark light. What are in the shadows are forces that have led to a reckoning—this tragic poetry of consequence. Poverty, race, and war are the forces in play whether they take the form of a drunken pregnant woman getting picked up in a bar or a Native American man throwing a pistol in a dumpster that he used to kill a cop. Like the late Wanda Coleman, Fondation strips his characters of an interiority meant to make them more universally familiar, engaging the reader with the dispossessed on their own impossible terms.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
The fifty-six fictions in Larry Fondation’s newest collection of L.A. stories are so textually uncanny they transcend the “obstreperous asphalt” his previous four installments inhabit, thrusting readers into a meta-violent Otherspace where narratives about the fringe of the fringe of contemporary American culture sublimate and ferment like a hard, sage scotch. In Martyrs and Holymen, Los Angeles is a state of mind landscaped by personalities and dangers not unlike those faced by the vanguard of the war on terror, a war that, through Fondation’s texts, appears borderless and without end…
By Eveline Morel | Agenda Magazine | July 18th, 2013
Such is the vision of Los Angeles’s inner city, as portrayed in Larry Fondation’s latest collection of short stories Martyrs and Holymen. His powerful, gut-wrenching stories, real, stark visions of survival from L.A.’s underbelly, depict Skid Row heroes with the same mix of hope, passion, lust, and human foibles shared by all humans, rich and poor.
Larry Fondation’s compact sentences pack a punch, and his portrayals mix poetry with the staccato rhythm of gunfire. Not without a reflective note, his narratives are often tinged with dark humor: “We had left the man alone among the rubble, with the rubble, in the rubble. As rubble. Like rubble. Blameless, struck no more, but there by himself (a man unfamiliar with Beckett, but waiting for Godot nonetheless).”…
Fish, Soap and Bonds is both a God’s-eye view of a society that treats homelessness as a slow form of public execution and the story of Fish, a former insurance salesman, now homeless, who can’t forget the past.
At the beginning of the novel, Fish has married Soap, a homeless woman, in an unofficial ceremony on the street, presided over by Bonds, their good friend, another homeless man who was once a deacon in his church. The story is set in the mid-90s, and in many ways, these characters are like any people you’d run into in a novel set at that time. They argue over whether O.J.’s guilty. Soap, a still-attractive woman, yearns for a Clinique make-over. Fish starts every morning obsessed with finding the day’s newspaper to catch up on the news about Rwanda. They deal with the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake and fires…
Other Reviews of Larry:
- Noir for Real by Barry Graham
- Flash Focus: Larry Fondation’s flash “Hilfiger” Will Knock You Out By Garret Gaudens