PUBLICATION DATE: April, 2022 ISBN: 9781950987214
“No one writes a sentence like Travis Dahlke; each line is at once searingly strange and surgically precise. Milkshake is one of those books that reads like a spell, transforming your brain as you go. And Bermuda, a troubled girl often overtaken by her past life, is a character unlike any other you’ll ever meet.” —Amy Shearn, award-winning author of Unseen City and The Mermaid of Brooklyn “
A man’s face hangs in the heat outside my aunt’s car. Years ago, before I was born, it was my face. In the here and now of this aspen-green pearl Toyota Camry, woozy from the hot Sprite fumes, I am a mulch dealer reincarnate.” Under the crush of heat waves that melt asphalt, rampant mortality rates, and a summer with her wine-soaked aunt, eleven-year-old Bermuda escapes through her past life as the Topsoil Baron: a man whose addiction to huffing cologne ads and Listerine keep him steady as he struggles to keep a declining mulch business afloat. As the Baron chases a hurricane that could save his livelihood, the threat of financial ruin looms larger and the seams of his marriage begin to split in ways he can’t ignore. At the same time, the noises Bermuda hears coming from the forest surrounding her aunt’s neighborhood are growing louder, unsettling plant life is sprouting everywhere, and remnants of her dead sister, Lorraine, intrude more often.
With a voice reminiscent of Jesse Ball’s How to Set a Fire and Why, speaking from within a landscape like those found in Diane Cook’s Man V. Nature, MILKSHAKE is a sludge ballad of reincarnation, suburban squalor, kids’ meal toy burial grounds, mutant gators, fortune-telling mollusks, and the Low Country of Vermont. It is a sound like Doom, doom, doom, a fever dream of a novella in which fantasies of the mundane become an escape from a world in the throes of freak environmental crises. And it is, above all, the coming of a weird and talented new writer upon the land.