Good day! As Lewis reminds us all, “It’s a New Day,” and that means a new THREE READS, my readerly fiends and foes. Are you ready to turn up the heat and get your book on? Pick your head up out of the toilet, put down your Taco Bell breakfast burrito, and let’s get into this. I’ve brought nachos to watch. And watch out for the centipedes. I squashed one last night who was trying to burrow his way under my dog’s fur. He got flushed and crushed and not in that order. I ate a banana and suddenly I imagined the entire house covered in creepy crawlers, nasty writhers, holy divers. But, as it goes, it’s a new day. Let’s make it count. We’ve got a special guest.
Today’s guest is none other than the Bizarro Pulp Press author of Day of the Milkman, the one and only S.T. Cartledge. He’s come armed to the hilt with moon-sized jugs of milk and he isn’t afraid to drink them up, make you want a sip, too. And, I heard his book is incredible. Heard he just finished another one, too. Why haven’t you? Time is running out. This man cannot be stopped, not by you, and most certainly not by your fantastic milk. Not on a ship. Not by nothing. Let’s leave YOUR milk out of this, okay? Calm down.Today, is about S.T. Cartledge and we’re going to milk this metaphor for all it’s worth, buddy.
Do you like to read? Do you like to read great books? Have you read S.T. Cartledge? Get on it! High praise don’t come easy in this dog slurp milk world, but Cartledge is drowning in it. Check out what some of these Bizarro barbarians of the written word have to say about his work:
“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.”
—G Arthur Brown, author of Kitten
“I am totally comfortable calling S.T. a modern day Richard
Brautigan for his consistently playful and arresting imagery.
His word pictures are like Brom paintings.”
author of Open Lines and editor at Surreal Grotesque
“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.”
—Gabino Iglesias, author of Gutmouth
Sound appealing? Sound intriguing? Sound worth spending some mind-space with, friend? You bet it does. And wait until you see Cartledge’s reads. It’s a really unique mix we have for you today. Shane, are you ready? Hello? Shane?
(He’s not here) (It’s only me as I’m writing this) (I can pretend, though) (Let’s make it be so). Oh, hi, Shane. So… You have three reads ready to go, yeah? Fantastic. Let’s do this…
Without further ado, S.T. Cartledge:
1) The Arrival, by Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan is a fierce and beautiful and imaginative storyteller. He is also a man of very few words. He tells his stories through art. His books read like children’s books, and for the most part, they are, but they’ve got this aesthetic quality about them. Think of how people talk about Pixar films. How they don’t just appeal to children, and how they tackle mature themes and how their films are remarkably accessible to people of all walks of life. Reading Shaun Tan is like that but it’s not just about making feature length films for children of all ages. It’s about redefining the way you tell stories. In about 30 pages of art, maybe a sentence or a few words on each page, you drink the stories in with your eyes. You can turn to them countless times and be moved by it for a different reason every single time. The Arrival is Shaun Tan’s ambitious story telling on a large scale. It’s a wordless graphic novel. It’s such a simple story of a struggling man trying to build a new life for himself and his family in a strange new place. There are no words. Until you hold this book in your hands and turn each page with a sense of wonder, you don’t understand its power or its beauty.
2) Biomega, by Tsutomu Nihei
Okay, so Biomega is a series. It’s six books. It’s another work heavily centered around art, rather than words. But it’s a pretty damn brilliant manga series, for what it’s worth. Tsutomu Nihei studied architecture before he became a manga artist, and it shows in his works. He’s got a thing for designing these crazy sprawling megastructures, giant crumbling towers in distant future civilisations, silicone-based lifeforms, grotesque monsters protecting long-since decayed civilisations. Biomega really gives an incredible sense of the sublime. The world is so big and empty. The people are violent. The dialogue is sparse. This guy has perhaps had the biggest influence on my own work. He crafts his own science fiction worlds so detailed and dystopian, it’s almost like Cormac McCarthy’s the Road set in outer space. But at the same time, it’s completely unlike that.
3) Quicksand House, by Carlton Mellick III
This here book is Carlton Mellick proving to the world that he can pump out books like there’s no tomorrow and still manage to bring his A game. Quicksand house is an apocalyptic science fiction masterpiece. I have not been so moved by a bizarro book as much as I have with this one. It’s so abstract and dark, ugly, haunting, and yet there’s this fragile quality about it. It’s alien, yet the themes it deals with are remarkably human. They hit so close to home. It’s about these children who live in a very small part of a very large house, never knowing their parents, until they venture out in search from them, only to find their world is not as expected, and that their childish optimism is washed over with cold realities, a bleak depression only the strongest determination can pull through. A beautifully imagined landscape and a carefully crafted plot.
Thank you, Mr. Cartledge. Thank you for your words, for your choices, for giving us something new to possibly sink out milky tongues into. Dear reader, it’s Saturday, which, when translated into Latin, means, “Day of reading many good books.” Let that be a lesson to you. While God may have rested on the sabbath, you better believe s/he was reading a book on the day before that heavenly rest. You should too, friend. Make it count.
If you’re still looking for hot reads, check out some of our past contributors, folks like David C. Hayes, Bix Skahill, Dustin Reade, Amanda Billings, Daniel Vlasaty, Andy de Fonseca, and Tiffany Scandal.