The Menstruating Mall, the eighth novel from bizarro author Carlton Mellick III, is part Agatha Christie murder-mystery and part Kurt Vonnegutt science-fiction social satire. Each one of the main characters views themselves as unique and a counter to mainstream culture, yet each one takes their identity in some way from mainstream culture. Though an initial reading does not require an extensive amount of time, due to Mellick's engaging plot and writing, it will most likely require several readings to ingest all the book has to offer.
If so, where does that leave Carlton Mellick and his book The Menstruating Mall? He works a dead-end job, he is single, and he is completely obsessed with going to the mall. This guys obsession, however, makes him work a lot of overtime just so he can spend more money. When we meet him, he is going into his favorite place in the entire world: the mall, of course. And yet we continue on every day, living our chosen stereotypes and buying crap we dont need.
Ive been playing around on the periphery of the bizarro for a while now, and though I havent fully committed to becoming an aficionado, I have come to expect and demand that the bizarro Im reading contains some seriously fucked up shit. The Menstruating Mall, my second foray into the wacky mind of Carlton Mellick III, was a big disappointment. Or maybe the shoppers would be giant, living tampons used to absorb the flow of the Mall's menstruation. Mellick III incorporates the scatalogical artwork of a friend -- one Food Fortunata (I imagine a mustacheod Twi'lek from Ryloth) -- but it feels like it is only there to remind us that the book is supposed to be Bizarro. (Dont ask me why the sketches are all about feces; Id have thought menstrual themed sketches would have been far more appropriate.) On second thought, maybe the sketches are there to remind Carlton Mellick III, too.
This book gives new meaning to breaking out of the mold, going agains the norm , and becoming something other than mundane. A question that gets overlooked as more and more of the mall goers are found dead with cryptic notes telling them to stop being mundane and break from the norm.
Mellick is a talented writer and Mall is a quick and enjoyable read that forces you to think a bit and examine yourself a little.
Apparently things like spell-checking and page numbers are too "mainstream" for this book.
I considered whether or not reviewing it here after foaming at the mouth so ill-advisedly, but after considering why I disliked this book, I decided to go ahead and review it here because ultimately, only one of the issues I had with the book really had anything to do with the actual writing of the book, the only thing one should ever mentally associate with the author.
This story touches on consumerism and cuts deep into our mall culture in a nice dark comedy sort of way. As with all things Mellick you definitely need an open and twisted mind to enjoy it.
Carlton Mellick III (July 2, 1977, Phoenix, Arizona) is an American author currently residing in Portland, Oregon. He calls his style of writing "avant-punk," and is currently one of the leading authors in the recent 'Bizarro' movement in underground literaturecitation needed with Steve Aylett, Chris Genoa and D. Carlton Mellick III started writing at the age of ten and completed twelve novels by the age of eighteen.