Books by Frederic Tuten

MY YOUNG LIFE by Frederic Tuten
Released: March 5, 2019

"An unabashed reminiscence that never fully coheres."
A familiar coming-of-age memoir about a young New Yorker who dreams of literary success. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 13, 2010

"Some readers will find these stories repetitive and aridly arty. But the dialogue is witty and erudite, the style lapidary, and there are moments of elegiac lyricism to rival Tuten's great Tintin in the New World (1993)."
The latest from Tuten, one of the gray eminences of the American avant-garde (The Green Hour, 2002, etc.), is a collection of enigmatic and interconnected stories about love, death, myth and memory. Read full book review >
THE GREEN HOUR by Frederic Tuten
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"Not so bad for soap opera, but pretty cornball all the same."
Tuten's latest (Van Gogh's Bad Café, 1997, etc.) is basically a potboiler romance in academic drag. Read full book review >
VAN GOGH'S BAD CAFê by Frederic Tuten
Released: March 1, 1997

Again blurring the lines between past and present, fact and fancy, Tuten (Tintin in the New World, 1993, etc.) reconfigures his familiar theme of love's totemic urgency, here pitting the needs of Vincent van Gogh against those of a late-20th-century rival in Manhattan's East Village. When flame-haired Ursula steps through the only standing wall in one of Alphabet City's rubble-strewn lots, she by chance also steps forward in time and into the startled gaze of a downtrodden photographer, a boozy epileptic who thinks he's having another fit. He isn't, though, so he takes her home, where she strips away her century-old garments, soaks in his tub, and begins to tell her story. She is herself a photographer, morphine-addicted, and the teenage muse of van Gogh. He is completely infatuated with her, though her own desperate needs bring nothing but trouble to their relationship. In fact, Ursula was searching for a fix when she stepped through the wall into the next century, and in spite of her would-be rescuer's (whom she names Louis after the dealer she was really looking for) now being infatuated with her himself, Ursula still craves the calm that narcotics provide. She explores Louis's demimonde, then strikes out on her own, taking in all that the city's drug culture can offer and recasting herself as a punk beauty. In spite of her assimilation and her affection for the hapless Louis, however, she worries about Vincent and one day steps back through the wall to her French cottage—though the mechanism of her return malfunctions, so that Vincent finds her as something less than she was. A tender tale, its magical effects as beautifully nuanced as its portrayal of van Gogh is passionate. The New York scene, though, is far less compelling, leaving a mismatch in intensity that's hard to overlook, no matter how much one might want to. Read full book review >
Released: June 21, 1993

Like Tallien (1988), etc., Tuten's latest is conceptually interesting and quite the rage—a post-mod mix of high and low culture. But not all hip ideas translate into compelling fiction. Reminiscent of Jay Cantor's Krazy Kat, Tuten's ponderous fable reimagines the famous Belgian cartoon character, Tintin, in a grown-up world peopled with refugees from The Magic Mountain. Tuten thus fills in his comic-strip word balloons with dialogue from an old-fashioned novel of ideas. Once an ``incorruptible, a natural spirit, a blond elf,'' the stunted boy-man discovers himself in the greatest adventure of his life. In Peru, on Machu Picchu, Tintin, his faithful terrier, Snowy, and his sidekick, the salty sea- captain Haddock, encounter Clavdia Chauchat, Peeperkorn, and others from Mann's classic. In the New World, they must all reconceive their purposes in life. These rather inanimate talking heads debate the merits of revolution, the value of art, and the designs of power. Meanwhile, Tintin falls madly for Clavdia after a night of wild passion, a moment so fraught with meaning that it leads to an elaborate dream of their future together. But Tintin's vision of contentment at his retreat, Marlinspike, is dashed by the decadent Peeperkorn, who reveals Clavdia's history of madness and nymphomania. Tintin grows, his voice deepens, he broods. He pushes Peeperkorn off the mountain edge and embarks on his last great adventure. High on psychedelic mushrooms, he flashes on ``the Grand Spectacle of the New World'' and sees himself as the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. A beggar in Lima, a shaman in Brazil, Tintin finally submerges himself in the Amazon, at one with the primal forces. HergÇ meets Mann, and the result would be as delightfully silly as an Abbott and Costello movie if Tuten didn't take all this so seriously. But, alas, he does, and the reader must suffer through his arch prose, with its pretentiously elevated diction. Read full book review >