The New and Improved Romie Futchby Julia Elliott

The New and Improved Romie Futch
by Julia Elliott


Meet the South’s newest antihero: Romie Futch. Down on his luck and pining for his ex-wife, the fortysomething taxidermist spends his evenings drunkenly surfing the Internet, then passing out on his couch. In a last-ditch attempt to pay his mortgage, he becomes a research subject at the Center for Cybernetic Neuroscience, where “scientists” download humanities disciplines into his brain. Suddenly, Romie and his fellow guinea pigs are speaking in hifalutin SAT words and hashing out the intricacies of postmodern subjectivity. With his new and improved brain, Romie hopes to reclaim his marriage, revolutionize his life, and revive his artistic aspirations. While tracking down specimens for elaborate animatronic taxidermy dioramas, he learns of “Hogzilla,” a thousand-pound feral hog with supernatural traits that has been terrorizing the locals. As his Ahab-caliber obsession with bagging the beast brings him closer and closer to this lab-spawned monster, Romie gets pulled into an absurd and murky underworld of biotech operatives, FDA agents, and environmental activists.

Part surreal satire, part Southern Gothic tall tale, The New and Improved Romie Futch is a disturbing yet hilarious romp through a strange New South where technology can change the structure of the human brain and genetically modified feral animals ravage the blighted landscape. In Romie Futch, Julia Elliott has created an unwitting and ill-equipped protagonist who nevertheless will win your heart.

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Author Bio

Julia Elliott’s fiction has appeared in Tin House, the Georgia Review, Conjunctions, Fence and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, Best American Fantasy, and Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collec­tion, The Wilds, was chosen by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She is currently working on a novel about hamadryas ba­boons, a species she has studied as an amateur primatolo­gist. She teaches English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where she lives with her daughter and husband. She and her spouse, John Dennis, are founding members of the music collective Grey Egg.


“[The New and Improved Romie Futch] reminds the cynical, seen-it-all reader sometimes strangeness is enough. Elliott’s work . . . contains brilliance.” —Kirkus

“Never a dull moment . . .The novel’s neatest trick is aligning Romie’s distress over his own future . . . with broader anxieties about what environmental and technological monstrosities the 21st century may bring.” —Publishers Weekly
 “The New and Improved Romie Futch romps wildly through a land of feral mutants and monsters of a more civilized kind. But at the story’s core is a heartsick man who believes he can be better. In this exceptionally imaginative and funny novel, high culture collides with low, the future torments but also soothes, and the grotesque beauty of our humanity shines through it all.”  —Diane Cook, author of Man V. Nature
“The New and Improved Romie Futch not only marks the arrival of one of the funniest, smartest, and most unnerving novels you’ll read this year, but also a vision for Southern literature that could only have sprung from Julia Elliott’s wild, devastating, and wholly original imagination. Consider me a fan for life.” —Laura Van Den Berg, author of Find Me

“In her debut novel, South Carolina author Julia Elliott takes us on a freewheeling, Pynchonian adventure through the American South. Read Romie Futch, and you, too, will find yourself newly improved.” Michael, Annie Bloom’s Books



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Book Size

5 x 7 3/4

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