Trashland A Go-Go by Constance Ann Fitzgerald (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, fantasy, fairy tale, Wonderland meets “Project Runway” meets “Hoarders”
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Summary: After a messy death at the Snatch Hausen, stripper on her way to a heart of gold Coco Darling finds herself unceremoniously sent to the dump. Forced to make a dress out of garbage bags and befriend a distraught fly named Rudy, Coco works her way to the heart of Trashland in search of the Queen, discovering female empowerment along the way.
Author Constance Ann Fitzgerald, the second in our New Bizarro Author Series reviews, was inspired to write a “Trashy Fairy Tale about a dead stripper” after numerous hours working in a sex shop and writing stories about the strange customers she encounters on a daily basis. I would love a nonfiction collection of just those stories, because you just know a varied collection of interesting characters turn up in her shop.
If this sounds intriguing to you, it’s extremely important to the success of the New Bizarro Author Series that you PURCHASE THIS NOVEL so the author can keep getting her work published. There’s only 15 left in stock from Amazon (the only corporate bookstore we support) so if you want a physical copy you better snag one up!
Beloved stripper Coco Darling works at the Snatch Hausen, a German themed strip-club where they will do unsavory things to you with sausages. After a booby-trapped pole results in her landing in the DJ booth and being electrocuted to death, Coco’s unsavory co-workers wrap her up in garbage bags and throw her in the dumpster. It is here that she finds herself in Trashland, a world built on a giant, possibly never ending garbage dump. After going through the rabbit hole, or in this case the sanitation system, Coca must fend for herself, against the denizens of Trashland.
While reading this novella, I couldn’t help but wonder about the inner workings of Trashland. It seems to be the embodiment of everything that is no longer wanted or appreciated, and the citizens are forced to rely on what they can find to survive. Children play on discarded swing sets, Coco constructs a dress out of garbage bags and later one from a hideously unloved Bridesmaid’s dress. They dine on stray cats, and the only other living creatures seem to be scavengers like flies and rats. Lakes are made of garbage goo, beer bottles are transformed into stained glass, and the Queen of Trashland’s crown is constructed from barbed wire. All this DIY thinking outside the box is nice, but I couldn’t help but wonder what separates Trashland from a regular run of the mill garbage heap. Do you have to be extremely under appreciated to wind up there, or are only certain dumpsters portals to this other world?
In her journey through Trashland, Coco meets several intriguing characters. Talking flies with a bucket list aside, there is the Oracle, a psychic who lives in a hut made entirely of meat, from the floors to the curtains to the bed. She even tells fortune with meat products, placing a variety of organs in a bag and the way they land on the table revealing the future. Think tea leaves but less delicious. As she warns Coco, “You must prepare for a great loss, dear girl. Larger than you have ever known.” A real barrel of fun that one is.
Slightly less depressing is Adrian, the big muscle-y type who works as a knight/maintenance man for the Queen. He wears rubber armor made out of tires which seems to be the traditional dress for knights in Trashland. It is through Adrian that we are introduced to the merciless Queen, who seems to be part human, part machine, and part mold. Not to mention deathly afraid of rats and mice. In an effort to take over the people in her kingdom, she drops spores, which attach to the back of men’s necks and make them fall madly in love with her. These spores also help her to reproduce. This method is pretty disturbing, but at least she’s not a giant bug or anything.
The one scene I could have done without is the torture scene that occurs in the Chamber. Yes, it allows Coco to tap into her true power after yet again falling under male subjugation- through no fault of her own- but it also plays into the idea that bizarro needs to contain some sort of gross out element. As I said in my last Bizarro Blursday post, bodily fluids and bizarro often seem to equate to each other, but I don’t think this is particularly required. Plot elements can be weird and wacky without bringing in feces. Especially when it puts me in the nauseous mind set of Chuck Palahniuk’s short story “Guts”.
As the main character, Coco is the type of strong female figure that’s easy to admire. Strong, capable, able to easily adapt to any situation. She’s the tough as nails female figure that goes against the damsel in distress that novels are often populated with. Despite her pre-death career choice, she really is a strong and determined role model for getting what you want without sacrificing one’s values.
Ultimately, this is a story about female empowerment. Much as stripping is a type of empowerment for Coco in the beginning of the novel, so too is finding a place for herself in the world where she is not required to use her body to gain power. Rather, she gains power by being a strong independent woman, while still staying true to herself. Not what you would expect from a story centered around an endless world of garbage, but I’m sure most people wouldn’t expect to find such a strong tale of feminism hidden in the pages of a bizarro fiction novella.
-Twisted fantasy world that turns fairy tales on their head
-Creates characters who are intriguing and terrifying
-Cocoa Darling is fun, likeable, and a great model of female empowerment
-Love love love love the last line of the novel (endings are important and this one was perfect)
-Can get a little grotesque at times (squeamish of heart or stomach beware!)
Again, because this is from the New Bizarro Author Series, the author is dependent on your sales to continue being a published through Eraserhead Press. So if you like the premise, the moral, or hell, even just the gorgeous cover, BUY THE BOOK! I’m sure Constance Ann would appreciate all your support.