Read Fever Chart by Bill Cotter Online


Having spent most of his life medicated, electroshocked, and institutionalized, Jerome Coe finds himself homeless on the coldest night of the century — and so, with nowhere else to go, he accepts a ride out of New England from an old love's ex-girlfriend. It doesn't quite work out, but he makes it to New Orleans, and a new life — complete with a bandaged hand, world-champiHaving spent most of his life medicated, electroshocked, and institutionalized, Jerome Coe finds himself homeless on the coldest night of the century — and so, with nowhere else to go, he accepts a ride out of New England from an old love's ex-girlfriend. It doesn't quite work out, but he makes it to New Orleans, and a new life — complete with a bandaged hand, world-champion grilled-cheese sandwiches, and only the occasional psychotic break. Things get better, and then, of course, they get worse. From a writer who's worked as a debt collector, book restorer, toilet scrubber, and door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesman, Fever Chart is filled with a cast of Crescent City denizens that makes for one of the most vivid ensembles since Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces....

Title : Fever Chart
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781934781999
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fever Chart Reviews

  • Lea
    2019-04-13 12:34

    Oh. My. Gosh.I LOVED this book -- loved it, loved it, loved it.Got this from a GR friend, then took nearly a year (or more?) to get around to reading it -- better late than never, right?It's hard to categorize this book (or even to know who would really enjoy it) -- it isn't funny in the way most people would enjoy; most of the characters are unconventional, even unlikable; and the story meanders quite a bit. In short, it definitely isn't the sort of thing you read every day -- but I'm a big fan of weird, so the odder it got, the more I enjoyed it.Jerome Coe is like the Angel of Death for any woman he falls in love with (and, boy, does he fall in love easy -- he doesn't even have to know the girl, he can fall in love with just the idea of her -- and we're talking obsessive stalkery love, here). He has debilitating mental issues -- hallucinations and breaks with reality -- that keep him rotating in and out of mental institutions. For whatever reason -- and I don't think it's ever made clear -- Jerome is just emotionally fragile, and completely unable to cope with life.Despite his ongoing problems, Jerome has a certain amount of charm -- he's sweet, even if he is unstable, and he constantly struggles to do what he feels is the right thing. Unfortunately, Jerome's compulsion to do the right thing perpetually backfires, hurting those he cares about.Most of the book takes place in New Orleans, where Jerome goes to make a fresh start. He falls in and out of love/obsession, and in and out of sanity, but the book really starts to gel when people from his past re-enter his life -- he also develops a new crush, which will affect his life in a very profound way.Part of the story does seem unnecessary, although it sets a mood and helps reinforce Jerome as an ineffectual and doomed person. Some of what seems unnecessary does come into play later in the book, some of it doesn't. That's probably my only complaint with the book.For me, the strongest part of the book was (view spoiler)[ the description of Jerome's stay in an institution in New Orleans. This part was bleak and brutal -- it was difficult to read, and I felt it might be an accurate depiction of life for disenfranchised patients. Jerome's abuse at the hands of his doctor was chilling, and I felt sick at the revelation that the doctor had been transferred to a juvenile ward. Although a small part of the book, I felt it was extremely powerful. (hide spoiler)]I've seen this compared to A Confederacy of Dunces -- it's been a while since I've read it, but I think both books have that same gritty, sweaty, N.O. vibe. So if you enjoyed one, you just might like the other, too.Highly Recommend!

  • David Katzman
    2019-04-16 13:22

    I have a love-hate relationship with this book. At first, it charmed the pants off me. Then I experienced flashes of intense frustration and irritation with the main character. By the end, I found it so outlandish that I couldn’t decide if it was a case of authorial wish fulfillment or merely a forced attempt to create a dramatic ending.The main character, Jerome Coe (hmmh, I’m always suspicious when someone names a character with the initial J.C….) has two unfortunate conditions: 1) a mental illness somewhere in the schizophrenia family, and 2) luck so bad you’d think he molested a leprechaun.Here’s Jerome: he’s an orphan in his twenties; he hops in and out of mental hospitals (escaped state institutions twice); he’s apparently cute if stalker-ish; and he sometimes completely loses it by hallucinating thought bubbles (like in comic books) and by going on a delusional rampage (more self-destructive than harming others.) He’s also intelligent, awkwardly naïve, neurotic about sex and relationships, and desperately means well. It’s this last quality that often leads him to really, really mess things up. Like getting-people-dead-by-accident messed up.The good:• Never a dull moment in the plot.• Written with vivid attention to detail without being pretentious or wordy. • Has an engaging energy, teetering on cartoonish without going over.• Witty. The first half of the book made me giggle in a this-shouldn’t-be-funny-but-it-is kind of way. Like laughing at poor old Charlie Chaplin’s ridiculous scrapes.*The bad:• Jerome can be so goddamn hapless, I just wanted to scream at him and knock some sense into him.• Second half of the book has some really nasty things happen, the nastiest being something Jerome witnesses the love-of-his-life do when she thinks he isn’t watching. No spoilers, but there’s something that smacked of authorial manipulation to the extent that it made me feel uncomfortable. Sexist? Maybe not but definitely objectifying.• Last third of the book, everything collapsed for me. I was reading fast, sometimes skimming, just to get to the end. Yes, I wanted to know how it ended, but I didn’t really care about the details anymore because Cotter had lost me by this point, the story had become too far-fetched.I realized half-way through reading this that it was a McSweeney’s Book. I’ve avoided McSweeney’s because it has struck me as pretentious and a cult of personality. Not sure if Fever Chart is representative of other work they publish or not, but I’d be willing give another book in their catalog a go. It had enough rewarding material in it to make it a good read. 3½ stars.*If you haven’t seen Modern Times, I highly recommend it. One of my favorite movies of all time. It’s on Netflix here:

  • Linda
    2019-03-27 16:16

    I call dibs on the movie rights - now, if I only knew the Coen brothers or someone who could make the film. This book reminded me of a cross between Confederacy of Dunces and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest with a tinge of the movie Brazil thrown in. (Especially the hole in the floor thing!) Fever Chart now sits proudly upon my favorite books shelf, cover facing outward. It's amazing that this book has so few reviews on Amazon and some not so nice reviews on Goodreads...but don't let that let fool you. If you're looking for something normal, something to recommend and read in Grandma's book group - forget it. If you're looking for something that transcends the norm - that's fun, quirky and unusual - go for it. This one I will probably reread. It really hit a nerve or brain cell with me, maybe all of them!

  • Erik
    2019-03-26 14:32

    Amazing. I loved the characters, the story (even the nasty parts, of which there were many), the heartbreak...all of it. There were a few rough spots, but only enough to ding the book by one star. I may have to re-read this one, and as a general rule I don't read books more than once.

  • George
    2019-03-29 14:31

    I effing loved this book. I hope they make a movie of it.

  • Leo Portugal
    2019-03-28 14:41

    Fever Chart follows Jerome Coe, a well-meaning and mild-mannered man, happy to go about his life, fawning over girls, and doing menial work; his most notable job is being a world-champion grilled-cheese sandwich crafter. Coe, however, is also prone to the occasional mental breakdown, where he sees comic book-style word bubbles appear over peoples’ heads before descending into madness. This is the wonderful debut novel of author Bill Cotter, who had spent years in mental hospitals himself, and after having many bad experiences, he decided to take some real stabs at the psychiatric system in the United States. Thanks for writing what you know and doing it well, Bill.This isn’t a novel solely about total insanity, however, as most of the characters inhabiting this world are only mildly crazy. And these are “characters” in every sense of the word. While they are not necessarily totally realistic, they’re interesting and loveable, and this is fiction and they make me happy so leave me alone, alright?Much like the characters, most of the story is pretty crazy, but in an absolutely fun way. It’s part kooky adventure, part love story, all hilarious and witty. The book opens with a bang (there’s an explosion pretty early on), and Cotter moves Coe’s story at a fast clip, moving from place to place and event to event in a way that had me thoroughly enthralled. The only thing that kept me from reading nonstop were Cotter’s often brilliant turns of phrase that would smack me in the face and leave me awestruck, forcing me to reread a particularly interesting description or a subtly hilarious joke. Cotter is a talented wordsmith, and I just couldn’t wait to see what was next. I was always pleased by what I saw, even upon a second reading.The opening pages of Fever Chart can be found at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. These pages feature a hilarious tongue-in-cheek discussion of the main character possibly committing suicide and are a good example of what you can expect from Fever Chart. If you find that short sample enjoyable, be happy with the knowledge that the whole of Fever Chart is out there waiting for you, you lucky duck.The Bottom Line: One part real and one part surreal, Fever Chart is the hilarious and witty story of one man's journey through the psychiatric system and New Orleans. Just beware dark turns that may make some readers uncomfortable.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-13 16:23

    This book began with me intrigued by the book itself. A quirky half-mast jacket cover and a lemon imprinted inside cover. Once I began reading the book I found myself immersed in the offbeat romp of life of a one Jerome Coe - mental patient in the Northeast that finds his way down to New Orleans. From what I could tell, shenanigans should be Jerome's middle name. He has a way with girls, in a kinda happenstance way, and makes a mean grilled cheese. He does not shy away from violence, maybe that's the mental patient part talking, and goes off the rails with aplomb.About halfway through the book the threads start to unravel. What happens mid-book is all shades of gray and I barely remember it. All of which is very unfortunate because the start was wacky fun. Towards the end of the book things start to become cohesive again, at least more cohesive than previous the previous pages. I did enjoy the book a lot and even when it lost its way, the way was never boring.

  • Rupert
    2019-04-22 16:42

    What a mess. Occasionally a glorious mess. ONce again a modern novel where the first 50 to 100 pages are incredible and insightful and then when they try to develop a plot it spirals out to the great shitcan in the sky. There is great descriptive writing in here and some of the characters are well drawn and hilarious. The early part where he is purely writing about the narrator's experiences in the mental health system are great. But when folks start dying at a fairly rapid clip and we're supposed to care about ridiculous crushes as the basis of the last half of the book I started to yawn. Would give the next book by him another chance, though, because I think there's a lot of potential in his writing.

  • Meara
    2019-04-09 16:17

    This is the first book I've ever read that made me sick to my stomach. Sick to the point that I had to put it down for a second and take a deep breath, which was hard to do what with the less than pleasant odors that make the air thick on my commute on public transportation. But I think that's one of the reasons why I liked this book so much, because it was so gross. Nonetheless, it was very unpredictable and kept me wanting more with my eyes glued to the pages and my butt at the edge of my seat. This book is not for the weak!

  • mary
    2019-04-06 11:40

    a-mazing. almost perfect in a way that books are perfect to me. everything was so wromg, but the way that it was written made it so right.the only reason it took me so long to finish it is the fact that i have too many tv shows, movies, and video games that i am subscribing to. if you're a fan of Geek Love or Confederacy of Dunces, buy this book right now.

  • Ilana
    2019-04-17 16:40

    I found this book to be oddly charming. The protagonist is neurotic (or I guess psychotic) as all get out, but so earnest and pathetic it's hard not to love him. The whole thing just killed me with its weird sweetness. When I finished this I instantly wanted to read it again, knowing how it ended.

  • Mark
    2019-03-25 17:27

    Modern day picaresque, Laugh Out Loud funny in (many) parts. Highly recommended to those so inclined, though not for the prudish.

  • Chad
    2019-04-03 09:34

    I'm still recovering.

  • Sam
    2019-03-30 10:19

    more great fiction, and by someone under 40. a god send considering all the crap out there these days.

  • Andrew Johnson
    2019-04-15 11:22

    The funniest book I’ve read in ten years. Intimidatingly brilliant – Max Wall channelling David Foster Wallace and Charles Bukowski. Read it.

  • Luis Correa
    2019-04-06 12:18

    A lot of fun. Cartoony, a bit plotless, but really imaginative and funny. Jerome Coe, although crazy, had a charming and orignal voice.

  • Susan
    2019-03-31 12:23

    Gritty read, but couldn't put it down.

  • Shannon
    2019-04-15 13:26

    Fricken amazing. I want to live in Bill Cotter's head for awhile.

  • Katie
    2019-04-16 17:41

    Weird as hell, totally original, twisted, memorable, funny, dark.

  • Patrick
    2019-03-29 11:20

    This book was well-written but not really to my taste. A pretty good portrayal of fringe-dwelling mentally ill freaks I guess.

  • Lindsey
    2019-04-06 14:15

    McSweeney's certainly makes a point of publishing what most publishers deem un-publishable. The reasons others might shy away from these works are as varied as the novels themselves. But Fever Chart isn't especially unique, it isn't especially groundbreaking, and though this might be the perfect pill for some it was a bit hard to swallow for myself. Cotter has given us Jerome Coe, a character whose morose insights, macabre hysteria, and oddball adventures make him both a misfit and a magnet to the same. To say that he is psychotic makes his visions seem far more interesting than they are. The book moves at a quick pace, but nothing much happens, and the reader isn't persuaded to have much hope for Jerome or his pitiful cohorts. He bounces in an out of institutions and asylums, where his experiences range from uncomfortable (after going sockless for months his feet smell as though they are rotting) to absolutely abusive (in one facility he is repeatedly molested by a doctor). In between these stints he makes renowned grilled cheeses for the citizens of New Orleans, some of whom are helpful company, some of whom enable his neuroses, and some of whom physically attack him. Through it all, the reader is left to wonder exactly what value lies in following these meandering exploits. The novel does not read as a particularly accurate or stirring portrayal of mental illness, and it doesn't feel as if its really even meant to be. Instead, these issues are written as a matter-of-fact component of Jerome's myriad problems coping with reality, which, taken together, are substituted for "plot" - if an over-thought rundown of the particular spiritual, physical, and mental defects of a singular character can be thought of as such. Much of what's written seems like base shock value. Are we meant to be moved each time we find ourselves saying "How disgusting! How vulgar! How sad!"? Because without any real conclusions, growth, or meaning behind this character's struggle, I felt nothing. Usually I am drawn to an awkward and unstable narrator, but it has to feel genuine. I saw Cotter read a portion of this novel at Housing Works and I will say that in certain ways, HE is genuinely awkward, but I don't feel as if there's anything genuine at all about Jerome Coe. There are sections of the novel in which he is slightly endearing, but mostly he's merely exasperated by his breakdowns and his bad luck without any real depth or development. He fails to react, he fails to be proactive, and yet, in the end, everything somehow turns out okay! And this was the real deal-breaker for me in terms of what I ended up feeling about a novel I found mediocre most of the way through. Things cycle from bad to worse over and over again during the course of the book, and then... we have a happy ending? And a trite, dubious one at that? This review is not meant to be scathing; I didn't even come close to hating this novel. But that this is Cotter's first attempt is glaringly obvious in some pretty painful ways. Cotter's writing style, rife with dark, dry humor, is finely attuned and becomes the saving grace of the book. But I'd recommend skipping this novel altogether and heading straight for his seven-part essay series on declaring bankruptcy written for the McSweeney's website. While I appreciated Cotter's dedication to his narrator, his future efforts would do well with more focus and quite a bit more vision. Instead he's relied here on what is supposed to be interesting about maladjusted narrators and adapted in a way that loses most of its heart and meaning.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-13 14:19

    I really did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Fever Chart tells the story of Jerome Coe, who has spend his life in and out of mental institutions. Easily enamored of women, prone to occasional psychotic breaks, and expert grilled-cheese maker, Joe is the perfect anti-hero; completely and utterly insane, but lovable nonetheless. We meet Jerome on a freezing cold Boston day, and follow him to the wild world of New Orleans and a city completely populated with other crazies. There's his ex-obsession's nutjob ex-girlfriend, who elicits his help, then threatens to kill him. His coin collector/mother figure boss at the department store lunch counter who helps him reach minor celebrity for his perfect grilled cheese. There's his hostel worker best friend whose life he may have accidentally ruined, and of course a love interest who may turn out to be even crazier than he is. There are even some characters that Jerome has never actually met or even seen but obsesses over anyway, and somehow they still manage to feel like three dimensional characters. By the end of the book I was actually crying, and wasn't sure if I should throw the book across the room or clutch it to my chest and never let go. I'd never heard of this book before, found it on Goodread, and then had a hell of a time finding a copy. (It's not available at the LA library, and there isn't a kindle addition...) But it was all worth it. Highly recommend for anyone with a little crazy in them.

  • Ron
    2019-04-15 10:42

    The pitfalls of a first time author who was once a crossword puzzle creator are that he has issues with both overall structure and grammar, his use of metaphor is painfully awkward about 10% of the time, and he is overly showy and pedantic with extremely obscure vocabulary (and this is coming from a student of science and Latin who has a very high vocabulary and rarely looks up more than a word or two in any book; Cotter sent me to the dictionary about 20 times in 300 pages). The blurbs were also way off base in their comparisons to other authors, this book coming across as the bastard child of McLiam Wilson's 'Ripley Bogle' and Toole's 'A Confederacy of Dunces'. All of that is easy to ignore because the book is smart, utterly compelling, and a warm and sensitive examination of mental illness. While ostensibly a comedy (like the forebears mentioned), it is a very dark comedy filled with violence and unexpected behavior as the protagonist's delusions deepen. Even more shocking is a somewhat hopeful ending that does not descend into bathos. Cotter has given us the rare first novel that, despite its flaws, borders on masterpiece.

  • Andrea
    2019-04-22 12:12

    This book was the wild joy ride I had been always wanting! I took it everywhere! I read it every moment I had! I MADE TIME to sneak a few pages in, no matter if on a crowded train or while walking down the street. It's the story of a boy who is completely unstable, always makes the wrong choices, continues to land himself into one disaster after another YET it is all of that madness that hooks you in and keeps the story spinning. Never a dull moment. Never did I stop to wonder if it was believable. From the second I opened Fever Chart, the narrator grabbed me by the wrists, looked me in the eyes and leaned across the table so that he could whisper every goddamn detail as intensely and quickly as possible before the memory and immensity of it all vanished. I cannot praise this book enough. It isn't for the faint of heart. There is sex and violence and profanity and death and you will hate the main character so much that you're tempted to throw the book right out the window (!!!) Until you realize that the only reason you hate him is because he made you fall in love with him...

  • Toby
    2019-04-08 13:24

    I almost gave this book 2 stars, but then I'd have to go and reconsider my rating for Big Machine, which I just read before this. It seems like every Great Young Author I've read lately has written the exact same book: a bildungsroman about a drifter with mental issues having a fantastic adventure while living below the poverty line. I'm about to read Lowboy next, and the plot summary reveals that it's the exact. same. thing. There's another review (Rupert Wondolowski's) of this book that's pretty dead on - it starts off terrifically, but the wheels fall off when it decides it wants to actually tell a story. Cotter is clearly a talented wordsmith - a number of passages throughout the novel smacked me right in the face. But jawdropping descriptions and turns of phrase do not make a novel, and this sub-sub-subgenre of fiction is making for a disappointing crop of Tournament of Books nominees.

  • Pamela
    2019-03-28 09:15

    I loved this book. It was odd and captivating, as were the characters. I'd gladly read something by this author again. There were a lot of storyline twists and turns so it was fast paced, but you also delve very deeply into the mind of the narrator, who is fun to think about the pick apart. Personally, I like books that give you a feeling like you're at the circus or a carnival--the feeling of being exposed to something unfamiliar, foreign, and a bit scary, but also thrilling and curious! I was looking for something that would draw be in the way that Convalescent and Melancholy of Resistance have in the past. This came pretty close. I don't often come across books that I enjoy as much as I enjoyed this one. Once every couple of years it seems. Two thumbs up!

  • Robbin
    2019-04-12 09:32

    This is perhaps the weirdest and most difficult book I've read. Characters named Cocktail Onions, a main character who's constantly bleeding, a bunch of wonky Danes living at a hostel, sock and banana masturbation, missing much is going on in this acid trip. In a nutshell, it's about a pyschotic hallucinating young man who drifts from place to place, works the odd job and meets some people along the way...some want to kill him and one is in love with him. I don't think I'd recommend this, but for what it is, it's very well written and at times, gripping.

  • Joseph
    2019-04-10 17:36

    The humor is apparently much like that of Confederacy of Dunces, but since I didn't think that book was funny this one didn't do anything for me either. There a couple of clever passages but mostly random descriptions (a lipless dog, galoshes found in the back seat or car) for the sake of being random set against set pieces that function only to get the characters from here to there. Speaking of characters: not a realistic female character to be found in this book; of course, the males aren't much better.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-19 17:19

    Though this book bears strong resemblances of others I've loved (Super Sad True Love Story and Confederacy of Dunces spring immediately to mind), I could never quite muster up the enthusiasm to feel quite as invested here. Jerome Coe bears all of the marks of the protagonists of the aforementioned books that turn him into a contemptible antihero. Nonetheless, the pathos just felt lacking to me. I rolled my eyes at his antics more than ever felt moved by them.

  • Richard
    2019-04-04 16:17

    This reminded me a lot of The Tin Drum. You have a narrator with questionable sanity stumbling through a fantastic world. The prose is a little rougher than you'd like, but it is a first novel, and what he lacks in smoothness he makes up for in ingenuity. I'm glad I finally got around to finishing it.