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Tidelandby Mitch Cullin
Synopses & Reviews
Before me rested the upturned bus in a heap — the hull a mess of flaking paint and seared metal — with most of the windows busted out, except a few which remained black and sooty. It seemed bluebonnets had sprouted everywhere, even from under the squashed roof, where they dropped like bullied children. And air was so rich with the scent of lupine that I sniffed my fingertips as I came to stand beside the bus, inhaling instead an earthy odor which belonged to my filthy dress.
Welcome to the world of Jeliza-Rose, the young female narrator of Mitch Cullin's provocative new novel, Tideland. And what exactly has brought Jeliza-Rose from Los Angeles to rural Texas? And why won't her father talk to her anymore, preferring instead to gaze at the wall? And who is making all that racket in the attic? In a story which is at times suspenseful, darkly surreal, and often humorous, Jeliza-Rose drifts from the harsh reality of her childhood, escaping into the fantasies of her own active imagination where fireflies have names, bog men awaken at dusk, monster sharks swim down railroad tracks, and disembodied Barbie heads share in her adventures.
In the tradition of such cult classics as Iain Banks's The Wasp Factory, Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy, and William Goyen's The House of Breath, Mitch Cullin's novel introduces us to an extraordinary world as created by an extraordinary narrator — Jeliza-Rose. Like his previous novels (Whompyjawed, Branches), Cullin offers up a unique voice, one that moves through a landscape populated with singular characters and stark imagery: a remote farmhouse in Texas owned by Noah, an aging rockabilly guitarist; the mysterious Dell, who wanders her property in a beekeeper's hood; Dickens, the childlike man with an affinity for maps of the ocean floor, his wigwam, and sticks of dynamite.
Set amongst grassy fields, alongside an abandoned quarry, in dim bedrooms and mesquite-shaded trails, Tideland illuminates those moments when the fantastic emerges from seemingly common occurrences and lives — and a lonely child discovers magic and danger behind even the most mundane of events.
"The prose is a stage set for Cullin's ventriloquism, which is brilliant and beautiful: his 11-year-old wild child is identifiably such, with just enough sophistication in her voice and vocabulary to keep her from being too naive to be interesting." The New York Times Book Review
"Traces of Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily' and faint echoes of the horror film classic Psycho infuse this highly charged, eccentrically imaginative narrative..." Publishers Weekly
"There's not much of a story for Cullin to hang his sharply drawn, often poignant evocation of childhood on. Still, his feel for the painful awkwardness and sensitivity of adolescence is worth the trip." Kirkus Reviews
"Cullin admirably conveys Jeliza-Rose's bleak story without allowing the narrative to stagnate in a self-righteous plea for sympathy." The Village Voice Literary Supplement
"Cullin's dark and often humorous prose moves deftly across this bleak landscape....Hope is in imagining that relief will arrive. And it does. Not for Jeliza-Rose but for readers who will be sustained by each page of this vivid novel." Exquisite Corpse
"Beautifully written. Perfectly paced. Sad. Magical. Funny. Excellent woodworking....Images kept tumbling off the page and into my eyeline — beautifully, clearly, spookily." Terry Gilliam, filmmaker and founding member of Monty Python's Flying Circus
"Like William Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Cullin's literary setting is peopled with unforgettable, quirky and eccentric characters." The New Mexican
"Tideland is a stunning performance! Funny, scary, and consistently engrossing." Scott Zesch, Alamo Heights
A macabre novel about an abandoned young girl's life and fantasies in rural Texas. Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Terry Gilliam (The Fisher King, Brazil, 12 Monkeys).
In a story which is at times suspenseful, darkly surreal, and often humorous, Jeliza-Rose drifts from the harsh reality of her childhood, escaping into the fantasies of her own active imagination where fireflies have names, bog men awaken at dusk, monster sharks swim down railroad tracks, and disembodied Barbie heads share in her adventures.
About the Author
Mitch Cullin is the author of the acclaimed novels Whompyjawed and Branches. He has received a Dodge Jones Foundation grant, writing sponsorship from Recursos De Santa Fe, the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize, and a nomination for inclusion in the ALA's "Notable Book List, 1999." His fiction has appeared in The Santa Fe Literary Review, Christopher Street, The Bayou Review, Austin Flux, Harrington's Gay Men's Fiction Quarterly, and other publications. He currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.
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