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Fever Chart Paperback – December 1, 2010
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As a blurber I am required to say Edgar Rice Burroughs meets Thomas Pynchon’ or George Saunders meets Mickey Spillane.’ But the truth is I’m not sure who’s meeting whom. All I know is they’re meeting on a teacup ride in a seedy amusement park, a teacup ride that has miserably failed its inspection, making the experience pleasantly familiar but alarmingly skewed, full of fun but deadly dangerous. You’ll be dizzy when it’s over if it doesn’t fly apart and chop your head off. But the ride is worth it.”
"Fever Chart is not about the destination so much as the reckless, driving-with-your-knees journey, and Jerome Coe is an antihero for the ages."
"Jerome Coe is a troubled young man who leaves behind the mental hospital he occasionally finds himself in to take an exciting romp through the same New Orleans that played so centrally in John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces. While Ignatius Reilly and Jerome would probably ignore each other if they passed on Bourbon Street, there is little doubt that they inhabit the same city, a baroque mess of a place, inhabited almost entirely by strange grotesques. Coe’s misadventures make for a lively, engaging read, that is funny as well as poignant. In a series of flashbacks, Cotter allows us cunning insight into the mind of Jerome Coe and the circumstances that led him to the mental hospital. A fun, engaging read that will satisfy an one left wanting more of New Orleans after encountering Confederacy."
Nate Campbell, Pop Damage
Fever Chart is one of the year’s most wonderfully dark and entertaining novels, and its protagonist Jerome Coe an unfortgettable literary character.”
Large Hearted Boy
Fever Chart is a disarming, frenetic and loving portrait of mental illness set in dirty New Orleans with a story that swept me up into an unplanned day of reading on the couch and a descriptive style that made me pray never to encounter a gangrened hand stuck inside a diaper-cum-bandage. The kicker: Ron Regé, Jr.’s incredible cover design.”
About the Author
Bill Cotter was born in Dallas in 1964, and has labored as an antiquarian book dealer and restorer since 2000. He presently lives in Austin with his girlfriend, the poet Annie La Ganga, and Travis, an inextinguishable roach who divides his time between the shower and the silverware drawer. He (Bill) is at work on his second novel. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This romp includes travel through a psychotic break that gives a sense of what the seriously mentally ill can experience. And, of course, there is an abundance of sex, generally (though not always) antiseptic descriptions of activities with self and others. As for puzzles -- how will Omar Sharif factor in?
Straight-laced readers should be prepared to be dragged from their muddy inhibitions...into fresh mud, while the more liberated enjoy a sustained ride on the Coney Island Cyclone.
From page 1 it's clear that the narrator protagonist is somehow broken, and the narrative and temporal structure of the book mirrors his distorted perspective. The book's prose and the protagonist's psyche go on twisting together around a surprisingly interconnected plot for a few hundred pages. It's like literary DNA. It reminds me of Richard Powers' The Echo Maker, but its tone is more personal and urgent.
Cotter's characters are amazingly well defined, each one a distinctly flawed person living in, and sometimes dealing with, our odd and flawed world.
The hardcover edition is physically marvelous as well, with luscious black and yellow textured covers and an eye-drawing illustration on the book jacket and cover. It's actually quite pretty, a quality I don't usually look for explicitly, but it suits and matches the careful, colorful novel.
The main character feels like a friend by the third page; all of the characters become people you've known, even the backgrounds are alive. It's a graphic novel but only in words, but not too wordy and flat. The descriptions pop with an originality you can almost taste. It's simultaneously comical, sad, convincing, surreal, sincere, and fantastical. Somehow throughout the shared journey of insanity there's a stability and trust in the voice of this story.
There are so many zany parts of Fever Chart that have become imbedded in my repertoire- it's the first story in years that (in addition to buying multiple copies to give to people) I've re-read it too many times to count. Jerome Coe, the main character, is one of the most interesting people you'll ever "meet."
Kudos to Bill Cotter's first attempt at writing... how's he going to top this?