Friday, December 5, 2014

WTF Friday: The Haunted Vagina by Carlton Mellick III

Every once in a while, as the mood strikes me, I like to indulge in those titles that are a bit odd . . . a bit different . . . a bit bizarre . . . and a bit freaky. These are books that don't get a lot of press, and which rarely get any retail shelf space.

They're often an underground of sort of literature, best shared through guilty whispers, and often with embarrassed grins. These are our WTF Friday reads!

This week's WTF Friday read actually originated with an offer Carlton Mellick III made on Facebook, offering up a pair of titles for review. The first of those, The Haunted Vagina, is one of his older tales, and one I'd already had my eye on, so that's where we'll begin.

"I was scared to have sex with Stacy ever since I discovered her vagina was haunted."

That, right there, has got to be one of the best opening lines in the history of weird fiction. As a statement it's simple and straightforward, but as an idea it's completely bizarre. It's a great opening line, because it really sets the tone for the story to follow. Mellick's writing is as slick as it is smooth - if his ideas were more mainstream, you'd probably find fans of King and Koontz raving about his work as well. Of course, he's very much not mainstream, and that's precisely his appeal.

The story begins with just a suggestion of weirdness, as Steve begins hearing voices and other odd noises coming from between Stacy's legs. From there it backtracks a bit, weaving a romantic little tale of lovers who met on a train and did nothing more than sleep and cuddle for a week, without even knowing each other's name. Mellick includes a plethora of details that demonstrate just how cute the couple is, but there's a tinge of oddness beneath it all. By the time we come back to the voices, things quickly escalate, with a bloody skeleton that scratches and crawls its way free of Stacy's haunted vagina, forcing Steve to play the hero and bash in its skull.

Creepy enough for you? Well, it's about to get really bizarre. When Stacy calms down from her fright and realizes that she passed the skeleton pretty easily, she convinces Steve to play spelunker extraordinaire and crawl inside her to see where the voices are coming from! Not only does he do it, and not only does he fit completely inside her, but he discovers that her birth canal houses a portal to another world . . . the very same world that gave birth (quite literally) to Stacy's childhood imaginary friend.

Beneath all that weirdness, there's actually a pretty deep tale of identity and human relationships. Mellick's story has a lot to say (or, at least, suggest) about who holds the power in a relationship, and what abusing that power can do to change a person's identity. Steve goes on a very weird journey to get inside his girlfriend, and once there he goes on something of a spiritual journey as well - especially after he's showered with evidence of Stacy's infidelity. Yes, that means precisely what you're afraid it means, and it comes at a moment that serves to shock the reader into remembering where he is and how he got there.

It's a strange story, sometimes sad and sometimes sweet, with moments of absurd humor to balance out the absurd horror. It's not as over-the-top as some of Mellick's work, but it certainly crawls deep inside your head and amazes you with what kind of tale such a simple, yet bizarre, concept can breed.

Paperback, Avant Punk Book Club, 100 pages
Published September 18th 2006 by Eraserhead Press


  1. Um, yes that's WTF all right. Though, is WTF Fridays gonna be a regular thing? I would look forward each week to see what else you'd be reviewing in this feature :P

    ~Mogsy @ Bibliosanctum

    1. I have enough weird review requests to fill Fridays this month. After that, I suspect it will be more of a biweekly thing. I'd rather have fun with it than hold myself to a rigid schedule. :)

  2. A deeper story wrapped in weirdness.
    Eraserhead Press - now doesn't that just fit?

  3. I've seen this book floating around, but I would never in a million years think it would be even slightly readable. Kudos to you for taking the time to read it, I would be scared off by the cover alone!