At some point in my early twenties, I was at an extremely dull party. That’s an essential part of being in your early twenties, at least that was my experience of it, attending boring parties. Mostly because you haven’t figured out what’s what quite yet and can’t discern the shit from the shinola. Or at least, you’re so desperate for booze and the off chance you might get laid that you’ll go anywhere.
I did what I often did at these affairs – I scanned the bookshelves for anything readable. Almost always this search was fruitless, but on this occasion my eyes fixed upon a title one could hardly scroll past without a second look. It was called Fuck Yes! Its author was supposedly one Wing Fu Fing.
It is setup like a self-help book (its subtitle is “A Guide to the Happy Acceptance of Everything”) and once you read the first couple pages it becomes apparent that the book is a parody of said literary genre. It starts with a foreword by someone named Bruno Megasavitch, who introduces himself as a disciple of this Mr Fing (Bruno calls him ‘Master”). The foreword is brief but very plot heavy: we learn that Fing is a guru of some kind; that Bruno is gay and is in love with Master Fing; that Mr Fing is now “gone”; and finally that the book he has just penned the introduction for, Bruno himself has yet to read as the publishers won’t let him.
This is followed by two other forewords, one written by Norleen Winkowski, who appears to be a woman Fing slept with once who says “I’ve already told the police all I could”, the other foreword written by Mrs Astoria Wing – Wing’s ex-wife.
While giving us cod philosophy, the book unfolds Fing’s story: he was a guy named Norris, living in southern California in the early 1980’s, when one day he had an epiphany. Tired of trying to fight the world all of the time, he decides to give in to it, fully and completely. He vows to say “Yes” to every binary question that comes his way. His son, who does not have a great driving record, asks to borrow the car. Norris simply says “Yes”. When his son seems freaked out about this, Norris explains his motivations. This freaks his son out to such a great extent, he ends up declining his father’s offer.
The next day Norris takes a bus to Laguna Beach on a random whim where a series of incidents, all leading from his newfound philosophy of saying yes to everything, leads him into mortal peril. He is saved by the Bruno of the first foreword, who turns out to be some sort of abnormal giant of around eight or nine feet tall. Norris has just used a magnificent speech of pure bullshit, one that inspired Boris to save him, so when the giant asks him what his name is he realises he can’t just say Norris; he comes up with Wing Fu Fing on the spur of the moment.
At the party where I discovered this very obscure gem, I sat and read the whole thing cover to cover, which took about three hours. I have a desire to tell you everything about the novel, but that would be unfair. Needless to say Master Fing gets into all sorts of problems, driven by his newfound philosophy. After explaining “Yes” to us, he explains what he says is the opposite of “Yes”, which it turns out isn’t “No” but rather “Fuck”. There is a whole section of the novel dedicated to what “Fuck” actually means (something to do with it being a combination word). I feel like saying any more would simply ruin it for you. Search it out for yourself. It even has a really sad, heart wrenching ending that gives it extra weight.
Only finding it may be tricky. It really is that obscure. I recall going to a bookstore in New York, one of those Soho/East Village bookstores that prides itself on having every book in the world, or the very least the ability to get their hands on a copy of everything ever published. The guy at the desk just shook his head when I brought it up, and in retrospect I think he thought I was making it all up just to intentionally stump him. I’ve heard all sorts of rumours about the book over the years, my favourite being that it was written by Tom Robbins under a pseudonym. I have no idea if this is true, but it doesn’t read like any of Robbins’ work in any way, so that would be strange.
I eventually got my hands on a copy on Ebay a few years back, a beat-up old copy from the 80’s (I’m pretty sure the book only had one printing). Most obscure literature isn’t very good. Fuck Yes! bucks the trend. If you find it, you’re a very lucky person (although in prep for this article, I have discovered that it’s out on Kindle. The joys of modern technology). I’ve poured through most of the great titles in the history of literature, and I still think it’s one of the greatest books ever written.
iT WAS written by a guy named NICK pALMER. i KNEW HIM WHEN i LIVED IN Seattle. Don’t KNOW IF HE STILL LIVES THERE
Are you positive this isn’t a Tom Robbins novel?
I knew the author when I lived in Seattle. It is not Robbins
Martin- Yes, I knew him too, in Seattle.
Since he has never exposed himself as to his real name,
not really nice that you gave his name.
A bit irresponsible
Stephen Pruitt says
This book floated around used book stores for years, usually misfiled in the self help section, rather than the comedic fiction masterpiece that it is. I don’t even know how many copies I’ve given to friends, but it’s getting tough to find now, as it was only the one printing. It is free on Kindle though.
As for the writer, It’s no longer a secret that it was written by Nicholas Palmer. There was controversy when Tom Robbins was signing if people brought it to him for a while, and Palmer finally came out as the true author and filed a lawsuit to have Robbins stop signing it. The lawsuit was settled quietly. That all happened back in the 90’s, so no real danger of “outing” Palmer anymore.
Read this back when it was new on the shelf because I had friends who worked at my bookstore of choice, and they told me how all the employees were reading it five minutes at a time whenever they could sneak in an extra “break”. Odd and hilarious book! I remember wishing I had what the author had been smoking when he wrote this! So much so that I hope they come out with a 2nd edition because I think now, more than ever, it is such a reflection of our society in the 2020s. Haven’t read anything else by this author, but seeking two copies now: one as a gift and one for my shelf to read again.
bort williams says
I first read this, hearing it was being sold at a Tom Robbins book signing in ~1991. I’ve read it at least 4 times, separated by a couple years each time to allow the novelty to wear off. Each time, after reading it, I’ve “loaned” it to a friend or acquaintance. Every time the person I loaned it to knew someone who would love it and lent it to them. I’ve never received one of them back.
I don’t use kindle, but I may have to now that I know this is free on the platform.
Gam Gammer says
Don’t worry too much about outing Nick Palmer as the author.
See : https://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/new90/19331.html
Where he outed himself.