C arlton Mellick III has authored four novels and a collection of short fiction, and masterminds the surreal and phantasmagoric underground publishing collective, Eraserhead Press. Mellick will debut his latest novel, Razor Wire Pubic Hair, this Saturday at Reading Frenzy. His last novel, Satan Burger, featured among other things, a vagina-like machine called the Walm, into which God fed repossessed human souls. He'll be joined at Reading Frenzy by local avant-poets Paul Ash, Margaret Pao and Rose O'Keefe.

PORTLAND MERCURY: You write and publish what you've termed "bizarre surrealist" fiction. Are there particular authors or traditions that describe this kind of writing?

CARLTON MELLICK: Like the surrealists, the bizarrists (as I like to call us) are about liberating the imagination--breaking beyond not only literary conventions, but also reality and logic. Our inspiration comes not only from authors such as Andre Breton, Franz Kafka, and William Burroughs, but also punk music, trash culture, and cult movies.

Are any of these "bizarrist" aspects conducive to living, writing, and publishing here in Portland?

Portland's creative underground has an extremely high level of energy. People are actually excited about the bizarre/surreal here. You can tell by the independent films coming out at Clinton Street Theater, the new artwork being sold on Alberta, the books available in the small press section at Powell's. I feel right at home here.

Your latest collection of short fiction, Sunset with a Beard, was recently published in both trade paperback and digital format. What's your take on electronic publishing?

Writing for the Internet and writing for print are two completely different art forms. Internet writing is closer to spoken word than anything. It has to be like a punch in the face: fast and hard. You have to do something exciting and different to catch a reader's attention before they click on to the next website. Any author who can do this will most likely succeed with e-fiction no matter what genre they're writing. TREVOR DODGE