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The Fat Artist and Other Stories

Benjamin Hale

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Picador

Published : 2017

Copyright : Benjamin Hale 2016

ISBN-10 : PB 1-5098-3031-6
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-5098-3031-2

Publisher's Write-Up

Benjamin Hale's fiction abounds with a love of language and a wild joy for storytelling. In prose alternately stark, lush, and hallucinatory, occasionally nightmarish and often absurd, the seven stories in this collection are suffused with fear and desire, introducing us to a company of indelible characters reeling with love, jealousy, megalomania, and despair.

As in his acclaimed debut novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, the voices in these stories speak from the margins: a dominatrix whose long-time client, a U.S. congressman, drops dead during a tryst in a hotel room; an addict in precarious recovery who lands a job driving a truck full of live squid; a heartbroken performance artist who attempts to eat himself to death as a work of art. From underground radicals hiding in Morocco to an aging hippie in Colorado in the summer before 9/11 to a young drag queen in New York at the cusp of the AIDS crisis, these stories rove freely across time and place, carried by haunting, peculiar narratives, threads in the vast tapestry of American life.

Weaving a pleasure in the absurd with an exploration of the extraordinary variety of the human condition and the sway our most private selves and hidden pasts hold over us, the stories in The Fat Artist reside in the unnerving intersections between life and death, art and ridicule, consumption and creation.

'From an artist who nearly eats himself to death to a woman who accidentally feeds her baby hallucinogenics... fascinating.'


'Fascinating tales that cover a huge range of characters, who will linger in your mind long after you’ve put down the book.'

The Scotsman

'Tackling the undercurrents of human frailty – those monsters that lurk in the deep lochs of the American psyche – the stories range from Morocco to Montana, and include the tale of a U.S. congressman who expires during a tryst in a hotel room and the adventures of an addict who lands a job driving a truck full of live squid... dazzling talent.'

Daily Mail
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (310318) Rating (7/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 7/10

The stories found in The Fat Artist are not for the squeamish, they are not for the delicate of stomach or sensibility, they are not for the easily offended, or people with a fixed opinion of beauty, humanity or decency. They are, however, stories for people who like things that are out of the ordinary, things that are outside the narrow confines of modern taste.

Over the seven stories in the book, we are introduced to a number of different characters, from the slightly strange to the desperate, people looking for a way out of jobs, relationships, maybe life even.

The title story looks at the plight of Tristan Hurt, an artist who becomes his own nightmare installation. Gorging himself on dangerously high levels of food, he becomes the heaviest man who ever lived. His naked body, becoming bigger and bigger with every day, every viewer bringing him food to eat, he lives in the room, his every need taken care of by staff and technology. As the novelty of his installation wears off, so do the audience, until he has gained a certain amount of notoriety, of fame even the most toxic type cannot fill the void in his life.

In Don’t Worry Baby, Miles and Odelia are a couple with a young child on the run, and their new lives come to an abrupt end during an eventful holiday, and the plane ride that takes them far away from the town and the life that they once knew.

In If I had Possession Over Judgement Day Caleb struggles to hold down two jobs, one involving the transport and care of live squid, and when a different, easier type of life beckons, he takes the easier way out, which leads, unsurprisingly to catastrophic results.

The writing in this collection is of a uniformly high standard, touching on the types of characters that populate the work of Bukowski. Benjamin Hale cares about both his readers, and the characters in his book, and he is a definite talent to watch out for.
Ben Macnair (31st March 2018)

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