“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
“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’ 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.