Tor, Apr 2001, 22.95, 240 pp.
The Federal Bureau of Arts and Information provides a critical service for the people. They pick up, pay, and destroy art that has had its “place in the sun”. The importance is to make room for new art because space is at a premium. Salinger and Miller are ancient history, and Shakespeare must have been off planet as the Alexandrians proud of that ancient fire rule the arts.
BAI PICKUP ARTIST Hank Shapiro thinks nothing of seizing a Sinatra or a Monet for ultimate destruction. Hank is polite and professional as he goes about his job as the repo collector. However, Hank makes a colossal error when he collects a recording by his namesake, Hank Williams and cannot resist listening. When he loses the record, Hank is obsessed to regain it. He begins an odd odyssey across the country accompanied by his often-dead dog. They continually run into the Bob clones that seem everywhere and other assortment of weirdoes.
THE PICKUP ARTIST is weird, amusing, and entertaining as if Fahrenheit 451 occurred in Eerie, Indiana. The story line is cleverly written engaging the audience with Hank's story and the history of the fire movement. Anyone who relishes a wonderful satirical science fiction at its most humorous yet quite insightful best will want to pick up award winning artist Terry Bisson's ironic look into the future.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner