Milkman Days #4: Gabino Iglesias

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Gabino Iglesias is my bionic brother. We went through the NBAS together. He’s a great writer, journalist, and friend. There’s a lot to admire in his work ethic and his dedication to the small press scene. He reads a ton of top quality small press books and publishes reviews on some pretty awesome lit websites. His writing is always appearing in awesome anthologies, and he’s got a whole bunch of other stuff going on behind the scenes that I don’t even know much about, but I know Gabino is incredibly awesome. That’s all anyone really needs to know about him.

Oh, and he wrote this wicked, visceral dystopian beast of a book, called Gutmouth. It’s about a man with a mouth in his gut. And the complications that come with it. And the horrible, depraved world in which such beings exist.

For being a total badass with everything he does, Gabino is today’s honorary milkman.

“S.T. Cartledge is one of those rare authors who seem to have an innate understanding of how the bizarro genre works and what needs to be done to deliver great stories. In Day of the Milkman, he starts by reinventing the shipwreck genre and ends up reinventing his own elegant prose. Sure, this is weird and has touches of science fiction, but it’s also proof that Cartledge will be a very relevant voice in strange fiction for a long time to come.”

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Milkman Days #3: Spike Marlowe

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Spike Marlowe is a superhero. Literally, she wears a mask and everything.

She’s my editor at Eraserhead Press, taking over since Kevin Shamel stepped down.

Spike is the author of Placenta of Love, which was part of the 2011/12 NBAS. It’s a fantastic bizarre love story, and it is touching and bold and bright. Robot pirates, anyone? Spike can make magic happen. That’s her superpower.

She’s an awesome author, editor, and friend. She also writes the Tea House column at Bizarro Central.

Make sure to keep your eyes out for forthcoming works from Spike, including the wonderful chapbook project spearheaded by Constance Ann Fitzgerald: Ladybox.

For always listening to me and helping me talk things through, for being a great editor and friend, Spike Marlowe is an honorary milkman (milkwoman?).

“Lyrical, haunting, beautiful. Look out world—S.T. Cartledge has leveled up!”

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Milkman Days #2: G. Arthur Brown

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Let me tell you about Gary.

Gary is an author, who is not an author.

No. He’s an author who IS an author, and his first book, Kitten, kind of proves that.

I met G. Arthur Brown, AKA Gary the Pirate, way back in the Fall of 2012 in the bizarro-famous Edgefield hotel in Troutdale, Oregon.

Gary was one of six other authors who would share the next year with me as a New Bizarro Author. His book was the first one in the series which I read, and it was this fantastic surreal thing completely unlike anything else I’d read. No wonder people loved the shit out of it.

Since then, Gary has become the Flash Fiction Friday editor at Bizarro Central, and he’s got some big things coming through the pipelines soon, but I’ll spread the news on Gary’s revolutionary new nipple growth cream in due time.

OOPS.

Oh fuck.

Sorry, G.

Gary is my second honorary milkman. Here’s what he had to say about my own writing:

“Cartledge’s genius lies in his ability to create surreal worlds so immersive that you can’t be sure whether you are reading them or dreaming them.”

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Milkman Days #1: Kirk Jones

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I’ve got a milk-related announcement to make.

Soon.

But first, I want to shine some light on a few people who have made everything feel worthwhile.

Say hello to Kirk Jones.

Kirk is a writer, a teacher, a family man.

His first book, Uncle Sam’s Carnival of Copulating Inanimals, came out in 2010, as part of the 2010/11 New Bizarro Author Series. It’s a bizarre carnival romp peddling objectophilia to the masses.

One thing I love about the NBAS is seeing what the authors follow up with. Kirk took his time, but this year, his second book, Journey to Abortosphere, came out through Rooster Republic Press.

In this book, Kirk returns to objectophilia, but this time the objects aren’t animated circus furniture. The objects are just objects. And the objectophile is the main character. He’s in love with certain things. It’s this kind of quirky charm which brings the story together. Journey to Abortosphere is a fantastic follow up to his debut, and from what I’ve seen of Kirk’s work and his future plans, he’s on his way up. Abortosphere was strange and unique in all the right ways, and the weird sexual obsessions and buttholes and giant iron fetus and time travelling battleship are integrated into the story without coming off as obscene gags existing only to shock. He’s a better writer than that.

I was fortunate enough to have Kirk blurb my own book, and for that, he is my first honorary milkman.

“In Day of the Milkman, Cartledge continues to show us his depth and gives us a new glimpse into the breadth of his creative potential. Day of the Milkman doesn’t coast in on the latest cream-coated indy formula for success. This work isn’t a skim derivation of bizarro from preceding works in the genre. In this book, Cartledge carves his own path, rising above the ranks with vivid description, milk-laden metaphor, and high-quality storytelling.”


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Best reads of 2012

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I read a fair bit in 2012. Mostly manga. Some of it was really trashy manga I bought for one dollar or two dollars, or something ridiculous like that. But I also read some awesome manga. Some of my all-time favourites: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Fullmetal Alchemist, Biomega. Tekkon Kinkreet and Claymore also rank pretty high.

But as far as novels go, I didn’t read quite as much as I’d have liked. I’m always overwhelmed by the things I want to read, and I wish I could have read more of a wide selection from what books were actually published in 2012. So this list is just the books I read last year, regardless of when they were published. Most of them came out within the last couple of years though. And partially because I’m feeling lazy right now, and partially because I think it’s better to form your own opinions of these books, I won’t tell you what I think of them. Instead, I’ll just include their descriptions. In no particular order:

A Town Called Suckhole, by David W. Barbee

Far into the future, in the nuclear bowels of post-apocalyptic Dixie, there is a town. A town of derelict mobile homes, ancient junk, and mutant wildlife. A town of slack jawed rednecks who bask in the splendors of moonshine and mud boggin’. A town dedicated to the bloody and demented legacy of the Old South.

A TOWN CALLED SUCKHOLE
But all is not well for the last remnant of hillbilly society. Suckhole’s annual “Hell-Yeah Heritage Jamboree” is suddenly threatened by a string of gruesome murders. The town’s sheriff, an illiterate yokel with a cleft pallet, is at his extremely limited wit’s end, and he knows there is only one man smart enough to solve the mystery: Dexter Spikes, a monstrous missing link between swamp and man brought to life by natural evolution. He lives in the swamps alone, shunned by the simple townsfolk of Suckhole who don’t believe in the wicked sciencery of his existence. If Dexter takes the sheriff’s case, he’ll have to face the undead culprits behind the murders, who are determined to bring about the next apocalypse. If he refuses the job, the town will be doomed to a vicious slaughter.
In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan

iDEATH is a place where the sun shines a different colour every day and where people travel to the length of their dreams. Rejecting the violence and hate of the old gang at the Forgotten Works, they lead gentle lives in watermelon sugar. In this book, Richard Brautigan discovers and expresses the mood of a new generation.

 

 

 

The Red Tree, by Shaun Tan

A small child awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling, threatening to quietly overwhelm her. ‘Sometimes you wake up with nothing to look forward to …’ As she wanders around a world that is complex, puzzling and alienating, she is overtaken by a myriad of feelings. Just as it seems all hope is lost, the girl returns to her bedroom to find that a tiny red seedling has grown to fill the room with warm light. Astonishing Perth artist, Shaun Tan’s latest creation, THE RED TREE, is a book about feelings – feelings that can not always be simply expressed in words. It is a series of imaginary landscapes conjured up by the wizardry of Shaun Tan’s masterful and miraculous art. As a kind of fable, THE RED TREE seeks to remind us that, though some bad feelings are inevitable, they are always tempered by hope.

Light Boxes, by Shane Jones

A poignant and fantastical first novel by a timeless new literary voice.

With all the elements of a classic fable, vivid descriptions, and a wholly unique style, this idiosyncratic debut introduces a new and exciting voice to readers of such authors as George Saunders, Kurt Vonnegut, and Yann Martel.

In Light Boxes, the inhabitants of one closely-knit town are experiencing perpetual February. It turns out that a god-like spirit who lives in the sky, named February, is punishing the town for flying, and bans flight of all kind, including hot air balloons and even children’s kites. It’s February who makes the sun nothing but a faint memory, who blankets the ground with snow, who freezes the rivers and the lakes. As endless February continues, children go missing and more and more adults become nearly catatonic with depression. But others find the strength to fight back, waging war on February.

The Deadheart Shelters, by Forrest Armstrong

Never fall in love, and never try to escape.

Born into a life of brutal slavery, Peter spends his days driven into the wild by vicious dog-masters, forced to pick delicate swamp berries from the skeletons of dead reptiles. His nights offer only the brief escape of hushed conversation and the strange magnolia perfume of fellow slave Lilly.

A moment’s opportunity turns to violence and Peter is thrust into a bizarre new world populated by devious goat-men, poisonous coal-slugs, and murderous royal processions. With the help of his newfound companion, a man-sized infant named Dirt, Peter must decide between embracing his narcotic new world or returning to his old life to save the beautiful souls haunting his dreams. With a unique poetic prose style Forrest Armstrong delivers a surreal and resonant Bizarro parable for all those who find themselves trapped deep within…

THE DEADHEART SHELTERS

King of the Perverts, by Steve Lowe

Poor Dennis. He’s a regular sort of guy who’s recently been dealt a shitty hand by life: he lost his job, his wife hates him and wants a divorce, and it turns out she was also cheating on him as well. Now he’s living on his brother’s couch. Holy fuck, that sucks. Dennis can’t imagine things could get much worse, and that’s why he jumped at the opportunity to take part in a new reality game show: a “sexcathlon” where the first person to achieve 10 increasingly difficult and perverted sexual challenges wins a million dollars and is crowned King of the Perverts. Dennis doesn’t care about the title, he just wants the money, but now he’s not sure he can make it to the end. Enduring a golden shower and following through with an Abe Lincoln are hard enough, but he’s losing his nerve and fears what act of perversion will come next. He’d like to drop out, but his Russian bear of a cameraman, Mongo, has other plans for him and that million dollar prize, and Dennis has to decide which is worse: winning the King of the Perverts, or losing it.

Space Walrus, by Kevin L. Donihe

Space: the final frontier… these are the voyages of… a walrus?

Meet Walter. He is the first walrus in a revolutionary space program. Someday, his blubbery form will float past asteroids, stars, and planets as he journeys through the dark beyond to become a Master of Space. But for now, Walter’s dream is to win the heart of his lifelong love, Dr. Stephanie, who happens to be the scientist assigned to conduct experiments on him. The problem is Dr. Stephanie does not love Walter. She views him as a test subject and nothing more. To make matters worse, Dr. Stephanie appears to be in love with the abusive head scientist, Dr. Ron.

From Wonderland Book Award winner Kevin L. Donihe comes a tragic comedy of unrequited love and inspired determination.

Please Do Not Shoot Me In the Face, by Bradley Sands

A tour-de-force. A harrowing comic masterpiece. A timely novel that transcends the times. An instant American classic. This is what critics are not saying about Bradley Sands’ latest magnum opus, Please Do Not Shoot Me in the Face: A Novel.

A novel in three parts, Please Do Not Shoot Me in the Face: A Novel, is the story of one boy detective, the worst ninja in the world, and the great American fast food wars. It is a novel of loss, destruction, and–incredibly–genuine hope.

Please Do Not Shoot Me in the Face: A Novel contains three classic Bradley Sands novellas: “Frankie Nougat and the Case of the Missing Heart,” “Cheesequake Smash-Up,” and “Apocalypse Ninja.”

The Crud Masters, by Justin Grimbol

THE OUTSIDERSWITH GIANT MONSTERS AND TRANSFORMING ROBOTS!

You know that book about the poor kids and the rich assholes who mess with them all the time? The one where the main poor kid (C. Thomas Howell) and his best friend save those kids from a fire, and then the best friend (Ralph Macchio) dies and croaks out, “Stay gold, Pony Boy.” And theres that rich girl, Cherry, who totally leads Pony Boy on the whole time? This is that! But with giant monsters and robots fighting in the rumbles. And its in The Hamptons. In a dystopian future. Its crazy!

Giant monster fights, touching love with sexbots and stinky women, extreme body modification, and Boogers, the guy whos sorta like Pony Boy, but gross and perverted-its all right here.

STAY GOLD.

Placenta of Love, by Spike Marlowe

PLANET-SIZED AMUSEMENT PARKS, ROBO-PIRATES, AND A SENTIENT PLACENTA!

Step right up! Captain Carl the robo-pirate is one of the few Artificial Intelligences living on Venus-the amusement park planet. When Carl is given the spark of intelligence by his creator, he becomes a creator himself. No longer just an automaton from a pirate ride, Captain Carl creates the love of his life and searches for her perfect body. He thinks he’s found it in a big placenta. But programming is everything.

When the placenta’s desire to reproduce kicks in, the whole park is endangered as the organ grows to monster size, spreading placenta babies across the planet and eating all the rides (and the people riding them!). Captain Carl must band together with a cat, a creator, and the Pope of The Church of Transubstantial Birth Fear to stop his love from killing everyone and destroying the park.

YARRRRR!