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The Handsome Squirm Paperback – April 9, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Praise for Carlton Mellick III
"Easily the craziest, weirdest, strangest, funniest, most obscene writer in America." -- GOTHIC MAGAZINE
"Carlton is an acquired taste, but he hooks you like a drug." --HUNTER SHEA, author of Forest of Shadows
"The most original novelist working today? The most outrageous? The most unpredictable? These aren't easy superlatives to make; however, Carlton Mellick may well be all of those things, behind a canon of books that all irreverently depart from the form and concepts of traditional novels, and adventure the reader into a howling, dark fantasyland of the most bizarre, over-the-top, and mind-warping inventiveness." --EDWARD LEE, author of Header
"Carlton Mellick III is a genius with an insanely beautiful imagination." --JOE AUGUSTYN, writer of Night of the Demons
"Carlton Mellick III has the craziest book titles... and the kinkiest fans!"  --CHRISTOPHER MOORE, author of The Stupidest Angel

"If you haven't read Mellick you're not nearly perverse enough for the twenty first century."  --JACK KETCHUM, author of The Woman and The Girl Next Door

"Carlton Mellick III is one of bizarro fiction's most talented practitioners, a virtuoso of the surreal, science fictional tale." --CORY DOCTOROW, author of Little Brother

"Mellick's career is impressive because, despite the fact that he puts out a few books a year, he has managed to bring something new to the table every time... Every Mellick novel is packed with more wildly original concepts than you could find in the current top ten New York Times bestsellers put together." --VERBICIDE
"Mellick's guerrilla incursions combine total geekboy fandom and love with genuine, unbridled outsider madness. As such, it borders on genius, in the way only true outsider art can." --FANGORIA
"Bizarre, twisted, and emotionally raw--Carlton Mellick's fiction is the literary equivalent of putting your brain in a blender." --BRIAN KEENE, author of The Rising and Dead Sea
"I'm a huuuuge Bizarro fan. This new strain of cheerfully transgressive weird fiction is to me the most vibrant, exciting, genre-mangling scene in all of strange literature today. And no one holds dominion over this blossoming underground phenomenon like the godfather of Bizarro, Carlton Mellick III. With the most impressive sideburns in imaginative lit since Isaac Asimov, and a brain that squirts out more shamelessly playful originality in any given chapter than most artists will accomplish in their entire lives, he's the poster boy. The Elvis. As well he should be." --JOHN SKIPP, co-author of The Bridge
"It's not unusual to blow through a Mellick book in one sitting. They're fast-paced with an endless number of surprises, making it tough not to keep turning pages. When the end comes, I'm left with that done-too-soon feeling that I always love experiencing." --RAZORCAKE
"A wormhole of disturbing surrealism and absurd satire." --VICE MAGAZINE
"Carlton Mellick III exemplifies the intelligence and wit that lurks between its lurid covers. In a genre where crude titles are an art in themselves, Mellick is a true artist." --THE GUARDIAN

"His fiction blends bizarre scenarios mixed with horror, action, and even more bizarre actions to create fiction that toes the line between the absurd and the dark places of the mind... Shocking yet entertaining" --THE EXAMINER

"I imagine Mellick as a Willy Wonka-type character, someone with personal access to another world, a world of his own creation, but due to its mind-bending energy, he's lost control of it, and it continues to thrive even without him there to pull the strings.  And I like the idea of that." --BOOKIE MONSTER

"The imp of the perverse." --3AM MAGAZINE
"Just as Pop had Andy Warhol and Dada Tristan Tzara, the Bizarro movement has its very own P. T. Barnum-type practitioner. He's the mutton-chopped author of such books as Electric Jesus Corpse and The Menstruating Mall, the illustrator, editor, and instructor of all things Bizarro, and his name is Carlton Mellick III." --DETAILS MAGAZINE
"Discussing Bizarro literature without mentioning Mellick is like discussing weird-ass muttonchopped authors without mentioning Mellick." --CRACKED.COM

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Eraserhead Press (April 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621050262
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621050261
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Mellick is back with another classic bizarro book that describes a possible future america. My favorite Mellick stories are when he rights about a future where the government makes up most rules about how one should live similar to 1984. In The Handsome Squirm we see the government enforcing a new law where woman cannot have children out of wedlock. If this does happen, you must get married or go to jail. The main character sleeps around and does not remember even hooking up with this one woman as the police drag him out of his house for missing his wedding that actually took place a few hours ago. But the main character claims he never got the wedding invitation because ever since the mail became privatized, it cost money to receive mail. So he only does email. So he pleads to the cops that since its not midnight and the day is not officially over, can he just get married instead of going to jail. This is when the bizarro kicks in as he marries into the Usagi family. An alien human mutant who finds no problem with one life ending so another can begin. The one life ending is the main characters. So he tries every way possible to survive and what we get is an excellent interesting story.
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This was another great read by the bizarro mastermind Carlton Mellick III. This time around we are introduced to a new society where only the good of the children matter. Imagine being a single man not allowed to go out during school hours for fear of you. This is the new world that our protagonist is set in, he is an established editor that has a unique appetite for sex. This appetite takes him to a place where he never even knew existed but is only a few miles from where he has been living. He gets introduced to a different form of people who have their own unique birthing rituals. One of these includes the father to be ingested by the pregnant mate in order to get nutrients to the babies. This leads to some very weird and unsettling situations for our friend. As always I loved how CM3 ended the book and makes you think about certain choices one might make. Another highly recommended book.
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What would you do if you found yourself living in a world where family values trumped the rights of the individual? A society where you're fined for swearing in public, it is illegal to divorce if there are children involved, all media has to be 'safe' for the entire family, and women are not allowed to have children outside of marriage. Moochy (or so his mother likes to call him) finds himself in a predicament with one of these laws when police show up to arrest him for not showing up to his court-mandated wedding. Apparently he has impregnated a woman, therefore, he is now required by law to marry her or serve 18 years in prison. And this is no ordinary woman...her name is Dokura, and she is part of a group called the Usagi. She has glowing blue eyes, shows no emotion of any kind, and oh, she wants to slowly digest him to feed the litter of babies she is carrying. Now he must figure out a way to escape before he ceases to exist, but it seems that he has the world working against him, including his own mother.

This is a more simplistic plot than what I am used to from CM3, but that is not to say that it is a lesser work. From page 1, he grabs the reader and doesn't let go. The first third to half of the book is totally riveting as you follow his rushed journey into a world of over-sexed women, who have little to no concern for the male species. You end of feeling as trapped as the poor man who is being held captive. The later part of the book slows down a bit as you spend day after day with a man that is slowly being consumed, hoping, as he does, that he will find a way out. This part of the book isn't any less interesting, just a change of pacing in the story.

This isn't just a bizarro book about some strange society of people that consume their males for baby food.
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I'll admit I was a little gun shy checking out this new bizarro genre. My fears were put to rest with The Handsome Squirm. Reading like a fable with jilted sexuality and monster cravings, The Handsome Squirm delivers the goods in a gross dripping grocery bag. This has a fun plot, sympathetic characters, rise and fall of conflict, and turned out to be a well told yarn. It's freaking crazy, yes, so for those who can't suspend their disbelief too far should stay away, but for those who crave something out of the norm, Mellick is your guy. Bizarro newbies, this is where it's at.
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In the introduction, Mellick bemoans the 'children first' moral initiative that plagues much of bourgeouis Middle America. That is, people give up large parts of their lives for the benefit of the children who will mostly squander it with time. Not to go off on a tangent, but it's pretty telling that 49% of pregnancies in the United States are accidental, unintended ones. Marx had it all wrong when he called religion the opiate of the masses. Sex is the opiate of the masses. Tangent over. The point is, Carlton created this dystopic vision of a book in order to drive the point home that perhaps we need to rethink this concept of always putting children first. When it comes to some things, we should be selfish. He looked around and realized that there were no books or films where a couple spoke like adults to one another and consensually decided that it was better to NOT have kids. Not only that, but there were no books or films where the couple was actually better off for having made this decision. I agree. Does the world really need any more children?

The blurb on the back cover describing The Handsome Squirm as a hybrid of Kafka's 'The Trial' and The Blob isn't far off at all. Just as Josef K is arrested in the middle of the night without any explanation, so too is our intrepid hero of The Handsome Squirm. He is a bit apathetic to the news and new government laws, so he doesn't realize how much the conservative right reformed the United States when it took over. In fact, it went full-on tyrant. Now, EVERYTHING is done for the sake of the children. Freedom of speech is nonexistent. Individuality is a distant memory.
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