You can milk anything with nipples

Real life and bad writing got in the way of my monthly goal of reading and reviewing self-published work, so this month I only got to do a short story. I started two novels, but couldn’t get into them. And the idea was for me to enjoy myself, so I put them down. Eventually, time was running out for me to read anything long, so I found a short story that looked interesting and short. I downloaded it and determined to finish. And so, I bring you Cat’s Milk by M. Strain Jr. It was listed under “Fiction >> Humor & comedy >> Black comedy” and “Fiction >> Horror >> Weird fiction.” Normally I have some sort of inability to categorize fiction/understand these labels. This is most certainly black comedy and weird.

In short, it is about a man and his weird mother who fertilizes her garden with dead Girl Scouts and milks her cats. Weird, right? Made me think of one of my favorite movies:

And this guy:

milkingcat

In spite of the subject matter and promising description, I had problems with this story. 1) It was all tell, no show. Yeah, the author tried to cram a lot in a few words, but I could have done with some showing. Unfortunately, I’m too tired to even explain (show) what I mean, so I’m feeling pretty hypocritical. Sorry. 2) It had misogynist elements. I don’t think the author is a misogynist, I don’t think the story is misogynist (I remember getting into a small discussion about ASOIAF over that distinction. I think it’s a conversation worth having, but I digress). I’m just entering a phase in my life where I get pissed at misogyny, and I got annoyed at some of the places this story went.

Who would I recommend this story to? Maybe someone who likes weird and gross. It short enough that the all tell no show won’t bother anyone for long.

Would I read anything else by this author? Sure. The author describes himself as being “new to the craft,” so I’d be interested in seeing where he goes with it.

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About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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4 Responses to You can milk anything with nipples

  1. Hey Emma,
    I’d like to thank you for reading my story and taking the time to post your thoughts on it. There are a couple of points you’ve raised and so I’d like to address them.

    You say that my story was all tell and no show. I advise you to really look it over again and then consider if “showing” would be right for that type of story. “Cat’s Milk” is meant to be short and somewhat fast-paced. Also, you must imagine that it was Aaron who is telling the tale. Do normal people usually use the level of description found in a good novel when they are writing a letter? Had I “shown” a lot more, I would have ended up with a fluffed up story with a slower pace and less of an edge.

    You are quick to conclude that there are “misogynist elements” in my story. Why? Because the mother (one of only two characters) is painted as being loony? Place yourself in Aaron’s shoes here. He had to grow up with this nut and deal with her craziness. You must assume he has resentment against her. I’m not sure where you saw my story, but in my smashwords.com edition, I tell of how I took two women in my life whom I love (my mom and my girlfriend) and twisted them into this one crazy character. My story was written mostly for those who enjoy the sort such as Stephen King’s earlier works. You think “Cat’s Milk” is crazy? Try reading his early short stories. I think perhaps your feminist-leaning views have caused you yourself to have ill feelings toward the opposite gender, leading to that problem you mentioned about getting pissed at anything you perceive as being misogynist. Just a thought. Also, I see you don’t like A Song of Fire and Ice, so now I’m really wondering about your mental health. j/k =P It’s not for everyone, and “Cat’s Milk” is meant for a way smaller audience.

    My next short is about a female child psychologist who comes to realize that her latest patient, a young timid boy, is actually inhabited by a dark force bent on warping her mind and corrupting her soul. It’s something of a psychological thriller, and I hope you think to read that one as well.

    Again I thank you for the read and for thinking to write a post on it.

  2. emmawolf says:

    “Had I “shown” a lot more, I would have ended up with a fluffed up story with a slower pace and less of an edge.”

    Maybe. I just like more description. Come on, cats’ milk?! Gross. Tell me more!

    “Also, I see you don’t like A Song of Fire and Ice, so now I’m really wondering about your mental health. j/k =P”

    You mock my pain! 🙂 It hurts me that I don’t like ASOIAF.

    Let me know when your next one comes out. I’ll be sure to read it and pick up on some ridiculous detail and get the completely wrong impression. 😉

    • Oh please do. I enjoy correcting people all day. 🙂

      The story was actually more about Aaron and his insane mother (at least, in the way he perceived it) and less about milk and tomatoes.

      I learned after publishing it that people in Europe do indeed drink cat’s milk. It’s a delicacy in some places, much like snails in France or rats in China. I had to go back and change my description of its taste to match the descriptions I found online, since I originally said it tasted like strawberry walnuts.

      I think I’ll just stay in the U.S. and stick to normal food, like processed corn dogs made from mechanically separated chicken parts.

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