What do you get when you mix Alice in Wonderland with an incredibly strange acid trip at a nudie bar, followed by a late night screening of every weirdo b-grade cult movie you’ve ever seen? You get the phenomenal first effort of Constance Ann Fitzgerald, Trashland A Go-Go… and a huge case of envy.
Coco takes off her clothes for a living, until some nasty little bitch kills her while she’s dancing. Thrown in the dumpster by her sleazebag boss, Coco awakens in a land of trash. With her new friend, Rudy (a dying fly), and her knight in garbage armor, the undead dancer tries to find her way home. But first she must escape from the evil Queen of this trashscape: a jealous and insane Ruler of Refuse who has an intense fear of flies. With hints of The Matrix and The Whiz, this heady trip will satisfy your cravings for twisted fairy tales, rotting garbage, and charming weirdos.
When I mentioned above that this book will cause envy, I gotta say it’s true. It will. You’ll wish you were the one who came up with this idea, and you’ll wish you could outshine it with your own work. But you didn’t, and you can’t. What Fitzgerald has achieved here is damned near perfect. If it weren’t for a few scenes laden with faces and/or meat-houses, I’m sure this would be a hit with everyone and their little (deranged) brother, even outside of the genre.
But, as it is what it is, I’m keeping it close to my heart and away from all of the people out there who might not appreciate this novel as much as they should. They’re fools, I tells ya!
Now, the whole Alice in Wonderland idea has been done to death in both YA fiction, and in some genre fare as well. It’s a fairly used vehicle to explain how a character might move from their current reality to a strange world filled with weird creatures and a backward social caste, or even a dystopian universe replete with people who walk on their hands, and fish that trip the light fandango. But Fitzgerald has taken that idea and spun a web so wonderful, it’s hard to come up with a single story to compare it to fairly.
Trashland a Go Go‘s main character, Coco, isn’t your usual high-heel wearing stripper. No, she’s a heroine in disguise, and a full out woman in the prime of her life. Sure she gags and pukes at the though of being trapped in a room fashioned completely out of soiled diapers, but who wouldn’t? Sure she’s dead, but she still has emotions that are rational, and uses them in a normal way, even though she’s in a very weird place with talking flies and parasitically controlled knights in rubber armor. What I’m saying here is, Coco is a stellar character that, apart from her placement in a world completely unlike our own, is totally identifiable, and wholly sympathetic – even at the end when she flips the script on the whole ‘the good guys won, let freedom reign’ theme. Which is awesome, by the way.
Fitzgerald’s use of dialogue is incredible as well, making it the best part of the story and outshining even the most wonderful settings she offers up. One-liners and hilarious exchanges abound in this novel, making the read wicked fast and a blast to check out. Some of the story is absolutely cringe-worthy, though. You have been warned.
When the author sets about describing houses built entirely out of festering piles of rotting meat, you can bet you’re going to sit there and smell every nuance of it. And the aforementioned “diaper room”? Yeah. Gag-worthy. Extremely gross. But in a hilariously disgusting way. I really haven’t read anything that used such mundane yet possibly sickening things to such a degree, and she does it with flair. While others may be putting their heroines in danger of some human-borne illness or psychopathic murderer, Fitzgerald is covering hers in trash, rotting flesh, feces, and heaping loads of humiliation.
One has to applaud the author for going the distance with this story and keeping it fresh all the way through. Even when she had a chance to go for the standard stroke of the man coming to the rescue and saving the day, Fitzgerald opens up the possibility that even the best laid plans might screw up every once in a while. Add in a satisfying ending that ties everything up nicely, and you’ve got the most bizarre, but best put together fairytale story you’re going to find in and around the genre.
I honestly can’t wait to see what Fitzgerald comes up with next. Regardless, you can bet it’s going to be a goddamned blast. I’d like to see her take on body-horror or YA fiction, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to talk to all of the NBAS authors, but I did get a chance to sit down with Constance last night and talk about a few things in another Dreadful Tales exclusive. You can stream the audio of that conversation below, or download for your listening pleasure.
Trashland A Go-Go is available in Paperback, and for your Kindle. Check out Constance Ann Fitzgerald online at her blog, and take a look at Eraserhead Press for more Bizarro Fiction. If you’re interested in more Bizarro than you can shake a stick at, visit the online community known as Bizarro Central. That place is awesome.