Stephen Scott Whitaker
Mulch Hayes has built a criminal organization dependent on the seclusion of the sleepy creeks and hidden marshy necks on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, for Mulch hides the bodies among tomato fields and twisty bogs along the creeks, aided by Mr. Bill and his magic. Mulch conspires to kidnap his children Virginia, and his half-mermaid daughter, Marina, and gift them to Pembroke and Cilia, his Dutch cousins, for their nefarious purposes. Little does Mulch know that as Marina has reached into the heart and mind of Nick Adams, who begins to paint in his sleep, the mermaid’s feelings and visions, ultimately sending him on a quest to save Marina. A chase ensues up the East Coast as Nick, driven by his sleep paintings, attracts the attention of Cilia, her minions, and Mr. Bill. Meanwhile, Virginia struggles to maintain her mind and soul as she is imprisoned and tortured by the sadistic Pembroke.
Praise for MULCH
“Mulch is a daring sprawling work reaching back into the colonial past and captures a seedy underbelly of the Eastern seaboard rife with magic and narcotics, of mermaids and madmen. Mulch inhabits a universe that is one part tall-tale, two-parts supernatural thriller imbued with gritty realism. A potboiler through and through, with poetry upon its shimmering pages.” —Gabriel Boyer, author of Devil, Everywhere I Look
“Mulch is a dark magic that conjures secret things better left unknown but impossible to resist. Whitaker’s Eastern Shore, a lonely, mythic anachronism, exists in a place just to the left of both time and reason, full of monsters both human and magical, reeking of moonshine and the redolence of genocide. Mulch will eye-gouge and skull-fuck you to death with its transgressive vision of corruption, family, and memory.” —Paul D. Miller, author of Albrecht Drue, Ghostpuncher
"What is so great about the American novel? Its potential for change, spiritual transformation, is what you find in Whitaker’s Mulch. Like an old hymn, the syntax does battle with that persistent lunar quality: the immersion of the reader is complete. The syntax, packed with overcharged undercurrents, reveals a momentary but eternal world. Bizarre, twisty, Mulch is an utterly digestible yarn chronicling the alchemy of existence, the magic of sinking.” —Walker Zupp, author of Martha