The Menstruating Mall by Carlton Mellick III
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I remember watching a documentary on the making of Dawn of the Dead somewhere. On it there is mentioned something to the effect that Romero’s genius lay within his calling out the suddenly present consumerist age with the advent of the shopping mall. Of course his vision was spot on. Watching the hoards of mindless, slow and limping undead approach the mall had a sort of sardonic sarcasm that has not lost its impact today.
If anything, consumerism has become worse, perhaps making Romero a prophet. If so, where does that leave Carlton Mellick and his book The Menstruating Mall?
The hero of the story seems like a regular guy. He works a dead-end job, he is single, and he is completely obsessed with going to the mall. This guy’s obsession, however, makes him work a lot of overtime just so he can spend more money. He is a marketing campaign’s wet dream. When we meet him, he is going into his favorite place in the entire world: the mall, of course.
After filling his hands with bags full of products, he’s happy. Only there’s one problem. He can’t leave the mall. No matter how often he tries, something stops him. There’s no road block and the doors are not locked, yet he cannot leave.
Later on, he meets people with the same problem. When the mall closes and doesn’t reopen, some of the stranded turn up dead. One of them is killing the others for being part of the herd, and the killer’s message is simple: Break your mold, don’t be mundane.
I think that The Menstruating Mall is a satire on the level, if not higher, with Romero’s horror genius. It’s the whole Breakfast Club feel to the story, with each character having their own and modern style, and that all have to work together despite their differences to achieve a goal that just might save their lives, which led me to this conclusion. You can see yourself somewhere in one or more of the characters and therefore see how absurd it all seems.
And yet we continue on every day, living our chosen stereotypes and buying crap we don’t need. We will continue to do so until we pound the Earth to ash with all the nukes our leaders have collected over the years.
Until then, I suggest that you buy this book, even if it’s something you don’t need for your survival. It is, after all, a lot of fun and entertaining. That’s all that matters, really.
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