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Thalkman has made a living making us laugh and making us wonder why we’re laughing, which is a great gift I think, because it forces us to examine the mechanics of humor. Why some words, when strung together just so, can makes us laugh more than other words strung together. Or why some sentences make your brain chase its own tail. Or run away in revulsion. You know, the funny kind of revulsion.
But when your brain works like Thalkman’s does, you don’t bother with analytics ’cause your world is so interesting.
It’s like the old “reality is perception” argument, where, since each of us has our own unique perspective/perception, each of our realities are slightly different. And due to the nature of those realities being uniquely inhabited, we are incapable of seeing each other’s version, and even were we to indulge in comparison tests, we would find them woefully inadequate.
Green is green, even if your version of green is actually something I would call red.
Sometimes those unique realities are so far apart, so bizarrely different or perhaps even mutated/evolved, that they would be all but unrecognizable to us.
Populating his unparallel universe are “dripping, disintegrating mold people in floppy oversized hats; crumbly old half witch, half animal faces with faded eyes enveloped in foul clouds of their own decomposition.” Women are “electric jade panthers” and “sleepy blue dragons,” their “crushed pastel and bioluminescence just purple chalk and dead bugs” while men are “big, red nosed potatoes” and “goofy, two-tooth broccoli heads with sawed off arms.” The butcher boy rides his “papier mache newsprint bicycle down ice foil streets, waving to the mailman with the miniature one hump camel on his back being fleeced by a turtle with a pair of garden shears.” Where the moon can be a “dying fish hanging tongue out in the tar” or a “velvet pearl handshake.”
This is a unique writer whose very uniqueness is sometimes unsettling. Are we merely passersby, observers, or are we good Samaritans? Are we not required to intercede? Are we not somehow complicit in this unravelling of a man’s mind, however galaxy-snapped that grey matter might already be?
Alas, it’s just comedy. No need to call someone. Best just sit back and let it happen. After all, it’s already been written. It’s been published. It’s too late.
There’s a story in there too, but it’s so thickly intertwined with the demented prose you’re hardly aware of it. The narrative stretches and flies all on its own- the words are only there to frame it, to try to pin it down long enough for us to catch a glimpse of it. To use chess as an analogy, Thalkman is not just moves ahead of us, he’s whole paragraphs ahead of us; even the pages the words are printed on are unable to keep up. Maybe speed readers get more out of Thalkman than the rest of us, but maybe not. Maybe to fully appreciate the highs and lows of his works the reader should squeeze every sentence, savor every word before it’s obliterated by the next one.
With his previous Kiss Me, I’m Bleeding and Cadillacs of Teeth, Werve (born Wevert Fhalkmon) made us laugh at embarrassing things and obscene things, grotesque things and beautiful things, like a puppy getting an erection and peeing in your eye and an old man choking on a flagon of his doctor’s excrement. Nothing, not even the most unwelcome image of shining a flashlight up a yak’s kilt or seeing how high a doll in a car seat would bounce if it were hurled from a speeding car on an overpass, is off limits.
From “flying green hawkmen with puppy legs and baby heads sporting tiny soldiers on their shoulders, their elongated necks made of burnt paper smoke” to the husband who comes home to find his wife in the tub with “a giant penguin, one flipper around her, the other holding up the video camera,” Hand Me My Octopus is psychedelitropic poetry, vicious and hysterical; a roller coaster ride through whatever politically incorrect amusement park Thalkman feels like leading us.
Very highly recommended.