Item description for Fish, Soap and Bonds by Ruth Larry Kate, Fondation...
Fish, Soap and Bonds follows the movements of three homeless people on the unforgiving streets of Los Angeles. Through their eyes we experience both the depths and heights of humanity: hate and discrimination, sacrifice and redemption. This is the third in Fondation's series of "LA Stories."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 6" Height: 0.5" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2007
Publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press
ISBN 1933293373 ISBN13 9781933293370
Availability 147 units. Availability accurate as of May 24, 2017 12:41.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Fish, Soap and Bonds?
Fish, Soap and Bonds Jun 16, 2007
Larry Fondation's latest novel, Fish, Soap and Bonds, is the story of three homeless people struggling to survive in Los Angeles, two of whom (Fish and Soap) were married on the streets. All three characters are average people who unexpectedly find themselves without a home: Fish loses his job as an insurance salesman, Soap's husband divorces her, and Bonds ran a restaurant until demand lessened due to changes in the local economy. Told in a series of short, interrelated vignettes, the novel deals in depth with the everyday events of their lives, through which the reader observes the discrimination, apathy, and compassion found in American society.
Fondation's treatment of difficult subjects, such as poverty and social justice, is both subtle and multifaceted, often incorporating humor, pathos, and social criticism in the same narrative space. A scene from Fish, Soap and Bonds that exemplifies this quality takes place when Soap gets the makeover she's always wanted at a high-end department store. When she later attempts shoplifting cosmetics as a way to relive this memory and is taken to court, Fondation uses this anecdote as a way to critique both the unfair biases within the justice system and the comic absurdity of its rules and regulations. For example, Fondation writes in a section called "Not Grand Larceny": "`Your honor, I move to have the charges reduced to misdemeanor simple larceny...' `On what grounds, young man? Your client stole more than $200 worth of merchandise. You're familiar with the statute...' `Excuse me, your honor, but the items were on sale.'" (97-98). As Soap's lawyer gets her charges reduced from grand larceny to petty theft by demonstrating that the items stolen were on clearance, this section juxtaposes the gravity of a trial with the frivolousness of shopping at Neiman Marcus or Lord & Taylor. These incongruities within the courtroom become the source of humor and irony, but also suggest that the statutes which determine Soap's fate are just as arbitrary as the sale sign. Through juxtapositions like this one, the author hints that such laws don't really enforce justice or protect citizens, but instead present unnecessary obstacles to marginalized individuals.
As Fondation critiques the social structures that have made life difficult for Fish, Soap, and Bonds, rendering these aspects of society at turns ironic, ridiculous, and imposing, the shape of the narrative becomes just as diverse as the author's take on his subject matter. The novel is presented in the form of vignettes, also including recipes, encyclopedia entries, lists, and police reports. This innovative use of form enables the author to shift point of view, allowing the reader to view the same plot through the eyes of all three protagonists, in addition to giving background information in an economical, engaging manner.
Another impressive aspect of the book is its use of repetition in depicting the lives of Fish, Soap, and Bonds. Images and themes often are presented in the narrative, later resurfacing several times in different contexts, providing a more complex and nuanced view of the initial thought. The "Chaos Theory" sections that are woven throughout the story are one example of this quality in Fondation's writing. For example, the first section of this kind reads: "She is taken to a hospital where the doctors bill the federal government a lot of money for setting her broken leg. The Senate, crying deficit, cuts the housing budget so when she is released from the hospital, the shelter in which she has been living has shut down for lack of funds" (17). Emphasizing the interconnectedness of people's lives in this initial section on chaos theory, Fondation elaborates on this observation later in the book. In the second "Chaos Theory" section, the author stresses that many people, although their lives are interdependent, know little about each other and become too absorbed in their day-to-day lives to give it much thought. For example, Fondation writes about a lawyer who passes by a homeless man on his way to work: "After a month-long trial, the lawyer wins his case on behalf of an insurance company. He is sure to make full partner now. The man in the box spends his time in and out of jail. During the rains his box is ruined. It takes him nearly two weeks to get a hold of a new one" (124). Describing both the interrelatedness of people's lives and their blissful obliviousness to it, Fondation presents this abstract and philosophical subject in a concrete, tangible manner that is carefully structured and lyrical throughout.
Overall, Fish, Soap and Bonds is an enjoyable, eye-opening read. If you're looking for a book that presents serious and difficult subject matter in an appealing way, this one's for you.