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 true, 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 shed’s 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.”
Praise for the Books by Larry Fondation:
“Fondation’s book is a grand success. Poverty is part of our landscape, our literature, and Larry Fondation is its standard bearer.” —The American Book Review
“Seething with the energy of the streets, bars, and bedrooms, Los Angeles author Larry Fondation’s second book, Common Criminals, reads like a collaboration among Elmore Leonard, Dennis Cooper and Eminem. The author may well be the best unknown writer in America.” —Detroit Metro Times
“Larry Fondation is one of the greatest contemporary English language writers. If you think that’s hyperbole, you haven’t read him. He is as complex as Borges, and as accessible and engaging as Elmore Leonard. For as long as Larry Fondation writes no man, woman or stray dog is left unloved.” —Barry Graham author of Before and The Book of Man
“Larry Fondation is a ruthless poet, a supernatural and mystical animal.” —Veronique Ovalde in Le Monde
“[Unintended Consequences] is poignant, bare, dense. Essential. Great book!” —Bertrand Tavernier, director of The Clockmaker, Coup de Torchon and Round Midnight
“Brilliant!” —Rolling Stone
“The Raymond Carver of the noir novel!” —Hubert Pronlongeau, Marianne Magazine
“In the 1930s, John Dos Passos published his trilogy USA; he released the shackles of the traditional novel and gave birth to a fragmented form allowing him to embody the chaos of the modern city. Almost a century later, Larry Fondation’s approach is comparable.” —Transfuge
“In giving voice to the homeless, Fondation creates a vision of Los Angeles on par with that of Joan Didion and Nathaniel West in its style, originality and timely urgency. His startingly beautiful prose reflects the complicated passions behind all that is start in Los Angeles—The best gift a city could wish for.” —Bett Williams author of Girl Walking Backwards and The Wrestling Party
“[Fondation’s] powerful, gut-wrenching stories—real, stark visions of survival from LA’s underbelly—depict Skid Row heroes with the same mix of hope, passion, lust and human foibles shared by all humans, rich and poor…[his] compact sentences pack a punch, and his portrayals mix poetry with the staccato rhythm of gunfire.” —Agenda Magazine
“A Dickens for the new Millennium, Fondation’s stories are a guided tour of 21st century Los Angeles as brilliant, frightening and complex as an 18th century Paris, 19th century London and 20th Century New York in their time. This writer pulls no punches — he sees into the hearts and souls of LA and its inhabitants.” —Sally Shore, The New Short Fiction Series
“He [has] entered the ranks of Steinbeck, Henry Roth, Henry Miller and Frank Norris. Larry Fondation is America’s bare-knuckled writer, our most fearless fictioneer. No one’s writing in the English language can deliver knockout blows like this guy.” —Eric Miles Williamson, author of East Bay Grease, Two Up and Welcome to Oakland