Sausagey SantaBy Carlton Mellick III (Eraserhead Press; 2006)

Carlton Mellick III is a writer whose work I’ve thus far gone out of my way to avoid. While I like bizarre fiction, and he’s one of the guiding lights of the “Bizarro” fiction movement, the reviews I’ve read of Mellick’s fiction make it sound experimental, like a combination of Kathy Acker and William Burroughs, and invariably compare the experience of reading Mellick to dropping acid. The problem is I don’t like Acker, can only take Burroughs in small doses, and figure if I want the experience of dropping acid I’ll do so.

Obviously I’ve finally broken down and read a Mellick book, and I’ll have to say I enjoyed it. While about as deep as a Bugs Bunny cartoon, SAUSAGEY SANTA is fun, mean-spirited and hyper-imaginative. It’s not as experimental as I feared it might be, as the emphasis is on action and invention.

The title character is an alternate universe Santa Claus who, in an effort to extricate himself from the demands of delivering presents each Christmas, ground himself up in a meat grinder. He was put back together, though, as the Sausagey Santa.

He’s opposed by an evil Frosty the Snowman, who resides in a compound in Antarctica with his zombie army. There’s also the “Sly Guy” narrator, who’s married a questionable woman named Decapitron. The two have a daughter who’s got a balloon of flesh “like an adult male hand” growing out of her head–“If I knew she was going to live this long I probably would have given her up for adoption years ago,” the Sly Guy muses.

One Christmas Eve the Sly Guy and Decapitron catch Sausagey Santa at work in their living room. They get caught up in Santa’s battle with Frosty and his minions, with Decapitron frozen solid and everyone whisked off to the North Pole. There Santa’s elves, all obsessed with Burt Reynolds, frolic. This year, though, they’re determined to put a permanent end to Frosty’s reign of terror.

Like I said, there’s not a lot of depth here. It’s Mellick’s feverish invention that keeps the pages turning; I got the sense that he was trying to top himself at every turn with outrageous conceits. Another plus (or possibly minus): the book is SHORT, running a little over a hundred pages. That’s a good thing, I feel, as much of more of this craziness would likely overload the senses.