Tumors and Diegeses

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A review of Tumor Fruit, by Carlton Mellick III, followed promptly by a review of Diegeses, by D. Harlan Wilson.

Tumor Fruit is Carlton Mellick’s island survival story. It’s also a science fiction novel. Set on another planet passing through our galaxy, a space shuttle full of Earth tourists crash lands in the acid-ocean of planet Barrack. Mellick’s writing is too bizarre to be real, but in Tumor Fruit (and Cuddly Holocaust) Mellick plays the devil’s advocate as if to say “obviously it couldn’t actually happen, but what if it does?” This is what you get when you have a story that is set in the real world and the world has since been transformed into bizarro. He plays this to his favour, evoking a visceral horror that is part strange and surreal, and part real.

There is a wide range of characters with fascinatingly strange backstories which carry on while the survival situation just gets worse and worse. It is out of this world, which makes the situation far more grim than your average island survival story. Everything is more deadly, more poisonous, more apocalyptic. And the survivors are going all sorts of crazy.

It’s a massive bizarro novel. It’s terribly grim and violent. It’s packed with mutant alien monsters and psychotic characters. It’s explosive. I loved it.

4.5/5

                         

Diegeses is the same old D. Harlan Wilson we know and love. His writing flows from one sentence to another to another real smooth and yet the events which occur may be violently absurd or incredibly jarring.

Diegeses is a story told in two parts: The Bureau of Me, and the Idaho Reality. The Bureau of Me is focused on the specific happenings of a man named Curd, where the Idaho Reality covers everything outside of that. Curd is in it, but he is not the centre of it. If you know D. Harlan Wilson, you know ‘reality’ is something he likes to play around with. So what is Diegeses about? There is Curd, who seems to be an ultraviolence magnet. Then there’s the guy that plays Curd in a soap opera, wrapped up in self-indulgence. Sex and violence go hand in hand, and the story reads like a film – highly visual and focusing on the events as they occur moment to moment. In spite of this, if it were a film, it would be wildly abstract and difficult to grasp at exactly what it is.

As is expected of D. Harlan Wilson, Diegeses is fast-paced and ultra-violent. It is visceral and grotesque. It walks in, shoots up the place, blood and exploding body parts, fucks the secretary, then leaves.

4/5

                         

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Competition: Golden Ticket for Imaginationland

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Think of this like a raffle. Except the tickets are a bit more expensive than $2. And the tickets aren’t actually tickets. They’re books. Specifically: This book. All you need to do is purchase a copy of the book (or multiple copies, to boost your chances), and email me at shanecart9 AT gmail DOT com with a photo of yourself with the book.

This raffle, however, has much better odds than most. 1 in 10 wins. Three prizes. Thirty tickets available.

And if you’re like me, and live somewhere where it takes up to a couple of weeks from purchase to delivery, you can email with the purchase confirmation first, and send through your photo later down the track when you actually have your ticket to photograph.

The competition will end once I have received the thirty ticket confirmations.

The prizes:

First place: A choice of four of the nine books listed below.

Second place: A choice of three of the remaining five books.

Third place: The two remaining books.

And the remaining people still have a book to read. No paper wasted on these tickets.

These nine books are some of my favourites. They’re a constant source of inspiration, and I’d readily call them imaginative masterpieces in an instant. They are strange and beautiful and fantastic and wonderful and breathtaking and surreal and amazing. I want to share them with you. And if you luck out on the prize, I’d still highly recommend checking them out. And if the contest is going well, I’d be tempted to add a couple of bonuses into the mix. But I’m new to this book marketing/promotional thing, so I can be flexible with it. And if, let’s say, House Hunter’s Amazon Best Sellers Rank breaks below 100,000 (which it has done once in the past) I’ll definitely throw something new into the prize pool.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

Gaiman writes his prose so beautifully. He rewrites familiar characters in traditional gods and breathes new life into them, injecting traditional fantasy with contemporary Americana. It is the essence of urban fantasy. It blows my mind with its epic narrative and immaculate narration. Gaiman has a way with words. Spectacular. I’m excited to see how HBO will tackle this as a big budget tv series.

The Arrival, by Shaun Tan.

Shaun Tan is a brilliant artist. He tells amazing stories with only a few words and a paintbrush. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel. The story is beautiful and very heartfelt. And Shaun Tan is a local artist and author. I saw him once at an art exhibition of his, on his paintings of suburbia. The way he creates suburbs and towns and cities and tells such rich, imaginative, inspiring stories within them is amazing.

Trout Fishing in America/The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster/In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan.

This book is a 3-in-1 deal. You get a novel of flash fiction chapters/vignettes in Trout Fishing, and a poetry collection in The Pill. But I’ve got this book up here for the novel, In Watermelon Sugar. It begins: “In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar. I’ll tell you about it because I am here and you are distant.” What proceeds is a surreal story beautifully told, about a man in a commune, and the conflicts of his romantic entanglements. There is a place called iDeath, and there is a different coloured sun for each day of the week. And there is the Forgotten Works, where a man lives by the name of inBOIL. It is strange, yet utterly captivating.

Tekkon Kinkreet, by Taiyo Matsumoto.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a manga enthusiast. This is a three volume manga series about two orphaned street rat children, surviving (and thriving) on the streets of Treasure Town. The kids, brothers, are crazy and violent and very territorial. The street is littered with gangsters and thugs. The city is sprawling and changing at an alarming rate. The story is violent and ugly and the art is fantastically raw, yet the pages bleed emotion and the two boys reveal more character and charm as the story progresses.

Kraken, by China Mieville.

I put Kraken in a similar boat to American Gods. It’s a spectacular work of urban fantasy. Mieville’s writing is great, although it is a bit verbose at times. You need to stay sharp. There are some brilliantly intense scenes in this book. It’s wild and chaotic and dark, and Mieville completely reimagines London as a spectacular and frightening fantasy/cityscape.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon.

This book isn’t set in a fantasy world. It isn’t surreal. It isn’t bizarre. It’s a simple story of an autistic child trying to solve the crime of the murdered dog. What makes this book spectacular is its perspective. Narrated by the autistic boy, we get right up in his head, in his anxieties and social awkwardness and faux pas. We see what he sees and feel what he feels. We follow his logic, comprehending things in strange new ways, yet we have the rationality to read between the lines. He is oblivious to the domestic apocalypse crumbling down around him. And that’s what makes this book so beautiful and heartbreaking and awesome. It makes you stop and think what if your good days and bad days were dictated simply by what colour cars you saw in the morning.

Light Boxes, by Shane Jones.

When I was ordering my books for this contest I had to order two copies of Light Boxes. This was because I gave my last copy to a friend because it was so good. It’s a surreal and abstract fantasy of a vast, weird, wonderful imagination. February has decided to stick around a while and strike a small town with perpetual winter. Children are going missing. Fairy tales are things that are crafted over many generations of storytellers and deeply embedded in folklore, but what Shane Jones has invented is a fairy tale born fully formed for the 21st century.

Lights Out In Wonderland, by DBC Pierre.

I loved this book from the first page. “There isn’t a name for my situation. Firstly because I decided to kill myself. And then because of this idea: I don’t have to do it immediately. Whoosh – through a little door. It’s a limbo.” This is a story of decadence and soul searching. The voice is crisp and clear and frequently playing on motifs. This book is not fantasy or surrealism. It’s a personal journey and the wonderland is entirely imagined. The feeling of reading this book is just like Pierre writes: Whoosh. Through a little door. It’s an exhilirating rush. An adventure that is strange and exciting and constantly teetering on a dark edge.

John Dies at the End, by David Wong.

This is full tilt bizarre shit. It’s well off the deep end. It sets up this expectation of a specific corpse by the final page, then starts on about axes and handles and corpses and such a twisted logic that this story is barely believable even in the crazy, demonic world it is set. It’s goddamn ridiculous. It’s a funny book. But it’s also dark and chaotic and completely unstable.

Thank you, and good luck!