Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family – Carlton Mellick III

In a twist on the usual gangster-style genres, this collection of short stories uses clowns as the members of a family-run gang of mobsters.  Some are born clowns, some are “vanillas” (your average ordinary person), and others are “turned” from a special injection that makes them into clowns.  A small percentage of those who receive injections to “turn” end up as sideshow curiosities because something goes wrong in the procedure.  Readers will learn through the story that the clowns set up their own area of town called Little Big Top, but instead of the typical drugs, alcohol, or embezzling, they sell comedy.  After some comedians made jokes that influenced someone to threaten the President and his wife, humor was outlawed.  Realizing this as a great way to make money, the Bozo family established itself as the provider of underground comedy.  Readers will meet various clowns and members of the family and follow them on interconnected adventures throughout this book.

I am glad I knew ahead of time that this book was considered bizarro fiction, or I would have been very confused.  Of course in this genre, one must open one’s mind and accept the unusual as part of the story.  With that in mind, I was able to enjoy the book, but without this prior knowledge, I would have been very frustrated and disappointed.  The characters, storylines, and situations are out there, but knowing to expect that, I had fun and just went along for the ride.  I was surprised to find out that the more I read, the more I wanted to know about this strange yet interesting group of clowns.  One violin-playing clown, for example, just won’t die, no matter how many times his enemies shoot, stab or beat him.  Another always smiles and manages to win the heart of the boss’ daughter.  The family’s veterinarian (a “vanilla” who cares for the various circus animals beloved by the boss) is deathly afraid of clowns.  All together, they make for a quirky, offbeat group of characters that will entertain anyone looking for a bizarre adventure.

This was a quick read that got more interesting as the characters developed and the storylines got involved.  It does, however, contain violence, sexual situations, and profanity, not to mention adult humor, that is not appropriate for younger readers.  I recommend this book for mature readers only.  Anyone looking for a different read about an underground mafia-like family of clowns will get a kick out of this book.


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Author: Josh Olds

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