Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Familyby Carlton Mellick III (Website, Twitter)
Published by Hydra on July 14, 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Mafia
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
“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 Bozo 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 Bozo 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 Bozos 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 Bozos must fight to survive . . . or die laughing.
Advance 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
My only previous experience with anything Carlton Mellick III was when my uncle, who has some pretty eclectic literature tastes, asked for the author’s Razor Wire Pubic Hair for Christmas when it came out quite a few years ago. I clearly remember ordering it in person from a rather perplexed looking Barnes and Noble salesman, but I didn’t peruse the copy before wrapping it up and handing it over on Christmas Eve. When the TLC Book Tour for his latest release Clownfellas: Tales of The Bozo Family turned up, I happily agreed to take a stab at this book. Mafia…clowns as the mafia…this sounded so twistedly awesome!
Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family is made up of six interconnecting short stories set in the same world of Little Bigtop, New York–where the Mafia is run by clowns, which are an actual different genetic subset of humans. You’re either born a full-blooded clown or a half-blood clown, but a regular “Vanilla” humans can become clowns by being injected with Happy Juice, and it doesn’t always go so well. The mutants that are sometimes made are banished to live in the Sideshow part of town, and no one goes there because it’s very dangerous.
Stereotypes Intermingling and So Enjoyable…
In this book, the author takes the main stereotypes of both clowns and mobsters, exploiting them for our reading pleasure. All of the common tropes are here and twisted in such a way that they’ve become fresh and fun. Like the warring crime families, here it’s the Bozo clown family and the French Le Mystere mime family that’s trying to muscle in on their territory. The human veterinarian that’s called in to operate on the head of the Bozo family’s lion, but the poor veterinarian is afraid of clowns. Also, the poor doctor’s family is kidnapped by the Le Mystere family and he’s ordered to kill the Bozo head if he wants to see his family again. And the wacky clown names mixed with mobster names were hilarious, so you get characters like Vinnie Blue Nose and Pinky Smiles.
Criminal Characters That You Care About…
In these six interlocking stories, you’re introduced to characters that are criminals, but you’re shown sides of them that make you actually care whether the live or die. I wanted Vinnie Blue Nose to pull through while protecting Jimmy Bozo (Don Bozo’s messed up son), even though they’re sure to not make it. I rooted for Pinky Smiles and Hats Rizzo to clear their name, even though I didn’t want either one of them to get back together with Mafia Princess Taffy.
I give Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family a 4.5 out of 5. With imaginative writing and so many different guns, ammunition, and bombs that amazed me with their ingenuity, Carlton Mellick III has definitely written a book that both seems serious and absurd at the same time. Clowns as the mafioso and their rivals are French Mimes? Totally laughable but it completely works in this book. I really enjoyed reading about a few of the Bozo family in each of the short stories leading up to the wedding, and at the end I realized that I hadn’t had this much fun with a book in quite a while. I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a fun read that like mafia related books, and the clowns aren’t that creepy.
About Carlton Mellick III
Like a real world Kilgore Trout, cult author CARLTON MELLICK III has been pumping out some of the weirdest, trashiest, most imaginative books that you’ll never want to admit you secretly love.
His books are released on a quarterly basis (every January, April, July, and October).
Best known as one of the leading authors of the bizarro fiction movement in literature, he is also one of the most prolific authors of his generation with over 40 books in print since 2001. He won the Wonderland Book Award for his novel “Warrior Wolf Women of the Wasteland” and has had short stories make it into The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade.
Although many of his earliest works are on the surreal and experimental side, his current style is to take the most ridiculous concepts imaginable and approach them with complete sincerity, as if they are not intended to be ridiculous at all. Always full of tongue-in-cheek humor, social satire, and told in a simplistic straightforward prose style similar to that of children’s literature or early pulp fiction, Carlton Mellick III’s work is one of a kind, to say the least.
He lives in Portland, OR, the bizarro mecca.
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