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I'm not going to lie. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this book.
I am a big fan of Carlton Mellick III and when I read the synopsis for Armadillo Fists, I immediately knew I had to read it. A bad ass boxer chick with armadillo's for hands? And she's on the run from mobsters with yo-yo guns? And they live in a world where people drive giant mechanical dinosaurs instead of cars? Dude, count me in!
But when I started reading the book for the first time, it didn't quite grab me. I think this is due to the fact that Carlton Mellick has an amazing range and his books can be vastly different from one to the next, from splatterpunk horror to bizarro romantic comedy to surreal sci-fi to a Tarantino-esque mob tale. It's as much a blessing as it is a curse, as reading his books back to back can be a bit jarring at times (though not always in a bad way). Coming off of I Knocked Up Satan's Daughter, I wanted something closer to that and this wasn't it, so I put it down for a while.
When Armadillo Fists made it to the top of my 'to read' pile again, I was ready for it. And I have to say, it really made me wonder why I wasn't feeling it the first time. Armadillo Fists kicks a lot of ass. The mobster characters and the world they live in are awesomely absurd in a way that makes your inner child giddy. The whole idea feels like the kinds of scenarios my friends and I would come up with when we played as children, dumping out the toy box and having Robocop on a velociraptor fighting the Queen Alien while Spider-Man and the Ninja Turtles duked it out with Megatron and his army of naked Troll dolls.
Read this book. It is something that you as an adult can enjoy just as much as the kid inside you will.
Armadillo Fists is the story of June Howard, who wants nothing more than to be a boxer. She has her fists replaced with armadillos to make her a better fighter. June is on the run from a group of gangsters, for killing their boss. The gangsters have names like Mr. Sorry and Rape Face and Mr. Marathon. They are all tattooed with the numbers 1-10, rating their rank in the organization. Tony, aka Mr. Fast Awesome, was once the greatest dino-driver in the racing circuit, and now he works for the same organization. He makes it his mission to help June at all costs. Mr. Fast awesome might be one of my favorite Carlton Mellick characters. He reminded me of a limbless Sly Guy Fry from Sausagey Santa.
There are so many amazing ideas in this book that I almost passed out while reading it. It is told in a non-linear fashion that will no doubt have many people relating it to Pulp Fiction. And I can see that, too, to the extent that it is a gangster story told out of order. That is where the similarities end.
This book is exactly the thing I've come to expect from Carlton Mellick III. And I think this might be one of his best books yet. It is smart and funny and weird and mind-blowing, and well... you just have to read it. This will obviously be a smash hit among Bizarro fans, but I can also see non-Bizarro fans enjoying it. It is the perfect Bizarro-crime drama. Highly recommended.
A Doppelganger convention is when you meet different versions of yourself from different dimensions. When June attends hers, she meets Muscle June who is a boxer with armadillo fists. Muscle June is from a place where armadillos on ones fists is a boxing tradition. June loves boxing and explains to Muscle June how she wish she could have been a boxer. Muscle June tells June that if she can get her inter-dimensional passport she will hook her up with a doctor who can perform the surgery. So June does it and becomes Armadillo Fists. However things go sour when she can't control her armadillo fists and ends up working a bit for a Mob boss. She beats him up. He likes it. Then she gets involved in a mob murder and is forced to fight for her life against Mr. Sorry, Mr. Marathon, Mr, Happy, Mr. Food, Mr. Corpse etc.. Each earned there name. Mr. Sorry cried daily black tears. Mr. Happy was always happy. Mellick writes a cool bizarro noir story here full of interesting and weird characters that never gets old or boring
June, aka Armadillo Fists, is a former boxer, on the run from a group of gangsters for accidentally killing their boss...and yes, she has armadillos for hands. Tony, aka Mr. Fast Awesome, is her loyal companion as he tries to help her escape...and he is missing half of his arms and legs, leaving him with stumps. June and Tony must beat these gangsters one by one and try to stay alive in the process. Oh, and did I mention that everyone drives mechanical dinosaurs instead of cars?
This is Mellick's first book that was written in a non-linear format, and it most definitely works for this story. It helps with the pacing and builds the plot in a more suspenseful and thrilling way. All the characters are great, and the action is intense (full of lots and lots of blood and brain smashing with a bit of sexual deviancy thrown in). CM3 has written another fun, crazy, face-splitting jaunt of a story.
I am into highfalutin Literature, but an anarchistic friend of mine insisted I read this guy. And he was right. I did. The story, what happens in it anyway, is about as profound as SPEED, BILL AND TED, FACE/OFF et cetera... character actions are based on flashy survival. However the plot had several convincing ties to its own inner logic, and the unusual standards for reality that also made those movies eternal godsends to each rapidly arriving generation. Readers of the classics, of literary journals, of hand-written koans, do not slough this man off. Now that John Lennon is dead, we need someone to call out "imagine" to us. This man has written a lot, and I think he is truly on his way. I for one will check in on another one of his tales.
Der meines Wissens erste Roman von Carlton Mellick III in nichtlinearer Erzählweise, jedenfalls den ersten dieser Art, den ich von ihm gelesen habe. Ex-Boxerin Psycho June Howard, wegen des operativen Eingriffs, bei dem sie ihre Hände durch zwei Gürteltiere hat ersetzen lassen (ja, wirklich! Bizarro halt) Armadillo Fists genannt, ist auf der Flucht vor einer Gruppe Mobstern, die ihr die Schuld am Tod ihres Chefs geben. Ein abtrünniges Bandenmitglied - Mr. Fast Awesome - hilft ihr dabei. Durch die nichtlineare Erzählweise entfalten sich die Hintergründe der Handlung, in die der Leser wie ins kalte Wasser geworfen wird, erst nach und nach. CM3 beweist ein gutes Gefühl für Erzähltempo und hat hier einen echten Page-Turner abgeliefert. Den Haufen kranker Ideen, die in die Geschichte einfließen (Dinosaurier, die anstelle von Autos gefahren werden, sind nur ein Beispiel) muss ich wohl nicht extra erwähnen. Wer Bizarro mag, wird dieses Buch lieben.
Again and again I continue to love each and every book that I read by the bizarro master Carlton Mellick III. This time around we have a story that centers on young female boxer who ends up having armadillo's for her hands hence the name of the book. This universe is one of my favorite that Carlton has made up with transportation courtesy of mechanical dinosaurs and the characters are what I love most about this awesome title. He does a Quieten Tarantino type story where he jumps back and forth with the time of events. As always I highly recommend this title and get excited each and every time I read and anticipate a new Mellick title.
A deeply funny and exciting, and at times even affecting, story set in a bizarre world. If you like Tarantino movies but think that they could use more robot dinosaurs and parallel dimensions, this book is heartily recommended.