Skunk: A Love Story
An obsession for skunk musk sends a young man on a picaresque journey in Courter's darkly comedic first novel, set in the town of New Essex that appears to be a suburb of New York City. Damien Youngquist nurtures a peculiar love for the smell of skunk, "the richest of all olfactory pleasures," by trapping the animals in the woods and forming a family of them at his home—much to the disgust of his nosy neighbor, Mrs. Endicott, and fellow employees at the law book publishing firm where he works, Grund & Greene. Then Damien meets lively, foul-mouthed Pearl, a woman who appreciates his taste for skunks like no one else. A fish fetishist, Pearl is also a marine biologist with a couple of inventions that just might solve global warming and world hunger. Courter takes his time with Damien's story, illuminating the many varieties of obsession and its strangest consequences.
— Publishers Weekly
“…a mesmerizing glimpse into the mind of a man who has a skunk fetish.”
— Bloomsbury Review
“Skunk stands in a narrative tradition in which realism and absurdity meet on the same level... Like John Irving, Courter is able to weave in the grotesque without abandoning the imagination of the believable."
— Der Tagesspiegel (from review of German edition)
"The story of Damien Youngquist… is as dark and twisted as it is tender and hilarious… Addiction, love and finding a place in the world is Skunk’s message, but the novel really jumps off the shelf because of Courter’s wicked gift of description and keen sense of story—it’ll have you retching one minute, then trying to find a suitable skunk to milk the next."
— Sacramento News & Review
“The most amazing aspect of the story is that it actually turns out to veer, by the end, from the creepy to the sweet.”
— Rain Taxi
“…this bizarre love story is dark in its obsessions and their most dire consequences of blindness and psychiatric treatment… light-hearted and humorous at times and rife with colorful small-town characters… A tribute to Courter’s writing talent is that the story makes readers slightly leery of their own seemingly innocent addictions.”
“Linguistically and formally, Courter's novel is impressively witty... Who says a clever novel has to be difficult? Skunk seems as if Nabokov's brooding Professor Pnin had written Walden, picked up bits and pieces from Moby Dick and John Grisham novels and finally modeled everything into a powerful plot with a lot of imagination. In any case, the four hundred pages fly by as if in a skunk musk rush."
— Music Express (from review of German edition)
“The skunk-obsessed narrator of Justin Courter’s excellent, off-kilter love story, leads his lucky reader through a flare-lit labyrinth of unusual, and unusually rewarding, instances. This is fine, fierce writing: an auspicious debut.”
— Laird Hunt
“Thoreau meets Timothy Leary in this outrageous and cautionary tale of what happens when two olfactory obsessions collide. An audacious debut.”
— Brian Evenson