“Carlton Mellick III goes past silly, through weird, detours around dumb, blasts through bizarre, and gets to a place where the normal physics of narrative no longer apply. You will never be the same.”—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Homeland
In a topsy-turvy world where clowns are killers and crooks, Little Bigtop is a three-ring circus of crime, and no syndicate is more dangerous than the Binzo family. From the wildly original mind of Carlton Mellick III comes the short-story collection ClownFellas—an epic mob saga where life is cheap and the gags will slay you.
For years, the hard-boiled capos of the Binzo family have run all of the funny business in Little Bigtop, from the clown brothels to the illegal comedy trade. But hard times have befallen the Binzos now that Le Mystère, the French clown Mafia, has started moving in and trying to take over the city. If that weren’t enough, they’ve got to deal with the cops, the Feds, the snitches, the carnies, the mysterious hit man Mr. Pogo, and the mutant clowns over in the Sideshow district. With the odds stacked against them, the Binzos must fight to survive . . . or die laughing.
Praise for ClownFellas
“Mario Puzo meets Barnum & Bailey . . . You just can’t look away as the ridiculousness escalates.”—Publishers Weekly
“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. In my opinion, ClownFellas is his best work to date.”—Edward Lee, author of City Infernal and Header
“I rarely enjoy clowns—which is ironic since I’ve been one for over four decades—but ClownFellas is great on so many levels, irony being one of them. What can I say besides I love it! Great read, and funny as hell . . . I have been accused of being unfunny before, and after the trial I had to enter the Witless Protection Program. This is funny!”—Barry Lubin, aka Grandma, longtime Big Apple Circus clown
“If Martin Scorsese and Ronald McDonald had a baby, this would be it. . . . Each story is clever, multi-layered, and filled with witty dialogue. . . . A must-read.”—This Is Horror
“Mellick’s writing is wonderfully descriptive and wildly imaginative. . . . I was utterly delighted, amused, and engrossed. . . . ClownFellas is a gem!”—The Qwillery
“A rollercoaster ride through a strange world that borders on our own reality . . . a story that is just as difficult to define as it is to put down.”—Examiner.com
“Mellick has created another amazing read. . . . Highly recommended.”—Kitty Horror
Mario Puzo meets Barnum & Bailey in this neon nightmare of interconnected bizarro stories. In a world where comedy has been outlawed, clowns control the illegal humor trade, dealing in illicit jokes and running underground comedy clubs. The powerful Bozo family controls the area known as Little Bigtop, but they face opposition from the brutal Carnies and the French organization Le Myst re. They face the same problems as any Mafia family: the top capo must keep his boss's violent son under control, an associate wants to marry the underboss's daughter but is suspected of being a snitch, a veterinarian with a fear of clowns must operate on Don Bozo's pet lion while his family is held hostage, and so on. Mellick carries the conceit to absurd lengths, with killer mimes, clown strippers with honkable breasts, and massive amounts of mayhem and violence. The writing is a little simplistic, and the stories often end on grim notes, but the blend of genres is like watching two clown cars crash: you just can't look away as the ridiculousness escalates.
Customer ReviewsSee All
ClownFellas: I was drawn in by the cover and title but stayed for a really good story
I stumbled across this book while browsing new titles. The title and cover caught my eye and the publisher’s description was intriguing to say the least. A crime family story about killer clowns sounded just offbeat enough to make for an enjoyable read. I will admit that when I looked up the author and saw that Carlton Mellick III was described as “one of the leading authors in the 'Bizarro' movement in underground literature” it dampened my interest a bit but I picked up the book anyway and I'm glad I did.
This is a collection of interrelated stories about Don Bozo and his crime family. Using these short stories, I was amazed at how the author created an entirely plausible (if ridiculous) world populated by normal people (vanillas) and killer clowns. Sure, deadly balloon animals and killer pies might seem a stretch but somehow the author makes it all seem logical in this world. And his explanation of how they get so many clowns into that small car is worth the price of the book alone. Labeling this writing as ‘bizarro’ is really a disservice as this a skillfully crafted book.
If you're looking for an escape from the everyday or just want a fun read, give this book a try. I'm not sure which of the other books by Carlton Mellick III I'll read next but I am sure I'll try another.
Very imaginative story with all the bizarre people and weapons you would hope for. The setting is very well done and contributes to the story. The characters are three-dimensional and weird to the bone. The multiple stories use the same characters for many different tales. I didn't go five stars because the actual stories were a little lame in comparison to the wonderful characters, weaponry and setting. It is still a good read and a fun book.