The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World (Montag Press 2022)
Mark Miller’s The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World is an absurdist romp that ties together conjoined twins, mad gay love in underground nuclear bunkers, Yugos, sentient CPU’s, the 1980s, and the tribulations of young romance when you’re two girls in one body. With rock-solid prose, Miller’s tale comes off like a direct descendant of Dr. Strangelove and Catch 22. And there’s a distinctly subversive whiff of Terry Southern in there somehow. Maybe even a little Tom Wolfe at his unruly, pre-fiction best. The convolutions are many, and the jokes range from subtle to over the top. The robust, unpretentious prose never lets the story slip out of focus, and the sheer plenitude of imagination is stirring. This is brave writing by a brave mind.
— Polly Schattel, author of Shadowdays
While I was being introduced to what is one of the most colorful casts of characters I have read in recent memory, I found myself with a slight bit of mental whiplash and loved every second of it. This is a strange story, to say the least, but its strangeness was done in such a fun and immersive way that it’s easy to lose yourself in this fever dream of a plot. The puns, analogies, and little quips littered throughout are what really makes this an enticing read. Miller works wonders with a satirical spin, like the whole world is some big cruel joke, and you find yourself laughing at it too. The elements used to illustrate this keep the feeling light while hitting targets that are thought provoking at the same time.
I’m absolutely giving this 4 out of 5 stars. It was entertaining, immersive and one of the most creative reads I have had the pleasure of enjoying. It has everything you could want and reads like you are watching a movie. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a page turner full of quirks.
Manda Marie, BookBud Reviews
As a horror aficionado child of the 80s who grew up near a nuclear trigger plant, I never knew I could actually like, and even love, a romance novel about mutually assured destruction. I am not joking when I say that Mark Miller has redefined the genre. Put this on your ‘to read’ list now!
–Sarah Walker, co-editor of Walk in a Darker Wood
An absurd, marvelous delight! Light, breezy, and a joy to read, with well-fleshed characters and all their quirks and foibles. But for all its hilarious absurdity, Miller weaves a gossamer thread of melancholy into the story, giving it a depth that some might find surprising.
–Roxanne Bland, author of The Underground
Amanda and Miranda Morgan are identical twins dreaming about first kisses and playing spin the bottle in the ‘80s of rural east Texas, until a secret government particle collider hidden beneath their family farm accidentally conjoins them. Now they must navigate the normal teenage angst of love, hormones, and popularity as two minds trapped in one body –a situation made all the more excruciating because both girls have different dreams and are in love with different boys.
Meanwhile, two devoted military men, Joe and Buck, have been living in an underground bunker for thirty years with no contact from anyone. They realize they’ve fallen in love, and are quite content with their isolation. But when the CPU of their module becomes sentient and threatens to destroy the world, they must make a decision: let it all burn, or save the world that would reject them? The CPU has a life of his own. Without orders to protect the world from the cold war, he (of course it’s a he!) feels his existence is futile. He falls in love with the Pentagon’s fax machine, but after she rejects his repeated advances, he vows to use the particle collider to return the world to the time of the cold war, to a time when he had purpose and could complete his mission.
The Morgan twins grow up, investigate polyamory, search for autonomy, travel the world, start businesses, and try to find love. They receive an invitation to their thirtieth high school reunion just as the CPU plans to take the world back to the good old 1980s and everything spins out of control!
This book is sort of like throwing Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Buckaroo Banzai, Red Dawn, Weird Science, Spies Like Us, and Rocky IV into a blender with a bunch of Rubik’s Cubes, Debbie Gibson Electric perfume, and acid wash jeans, making a suicidal Slurpee, and sipping it as you stroll around the mall listening to The Dead Kennedys on your walkman. Miller makes us see clearly that all the stuff of a Gen X childhood was simply a magic trick designed to distract us from the fact that we were hiding under our desks waiting for the nukes to come; he shines a spotlight on the fundamental disconnects we all live(d) with: the bubble-gum fun dancing in the face of impending doom.
I am not going to compare Mark Miller’s writing to another author because there is only one Mark Miller. His humor is quirky and zany and a bright spot in this universe. He makes me laugh out loud. His characters are original. His books are considered absurd literature, but I honestly believe there isn’t a category that best suits him. His social commentary, his sensitivity to issues, the big hearts and dreams he pours into his characters, his humor and irony, all make his work special.
In the end, the last one hundred pages of this book made me cry. These days, I don’t cry very often at writing. But The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World is a beautiful love poem to what it means to be human, to be alive, to love, and seek love in a world that is ever-changing.
I love this book so damn much. The ending is beautiful. It’s perfect. It’s gorgeous. It’s so damn good. It is a symphony to the human heart, to humanity, to existence.
–Nora B. Peevy, co-editor Alien Sun Press
A story about acceptance, introspection, enlightenment, and love. So much love, it practically oozes the stuff! Along the way there are thrills, suspense, and banter so good it would leave the cast of Dawson’s Creek speechless. This story smells like gothic art, (just read it, you’ll see) entertains like a Duran Duran video marathon, and satisfies like a trip to the Tastee Freeze. It’s more than good. It’s nuclear.
–Jezzy Wolfe, author of Monstrum Poetica
A well-blended cocktail of weird fiction and superb storytelling. His novel is not only a statement about the mad world in which we live but an analysis of the complexity of humanity and a unique exploration of relationships. It can’t be denied that this author has penned something special. Highly recommended!
—James G. Carlson, author of Seven Exhumations and Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid
The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World blends romance with ribald adventure and humor in a novel that promises to attract a wide range of readers to its unusual escapades and odd characters.
Their connection was not forged at birth, but was created by a government snafu involving a particle collider project hidden underneath the family farm. The Morgan twins are on the path to adulthood, facing romantic attractions complicated both by their physical connection and their separate outlooks on life and men.
Mark Miller also injects end-of-the-world drama into this story, which comes with unexpected differences. One example is two men ensconced underground in a survival bunker for 30 years who discover attraction for one another and reasons for not seeking a return to civilization. This is paired with a newly sentient CPU who, lonely for love, seeks a romantic connection with a fax machine at the Pentagon. Singularity never looked like this before. Nor has love.
As events evolve, these disparate characters assume the flavor of Dr. Strangelove mixed with a heady rush of hormones that returns a high-octane romance on steroids.
Expect the unexpected, because that’s one delightful strength of The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World. It ultimately examines the end of worlds, the beginnings of new worlds, and the promise and rush of romance under extraordinary conditions. A heady injection of social inspection with references to cis-gendered white male privilege, American patriotism gone awry, and a shockingly definitive conclusion ices the cake of both fun and serious social and political analysis.
Libraries and readers looking for a mix of romance, sci-fi, and relationship-evolving characters (and machines) will find The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World‘s creative blend of humor and conundrums to be involving, unique, and satisfyingly unexpected.
Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
The Librarian at the End of the World (Montag Press 2019)
Part action, part thriller, all comedy, The Librarian at the End of the World fires on all cylinders. Fans of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace will revel in the ridiculousness that is Miller’s America.”
“A constantly surprising picaresque journey through cultural darkness”
“A most unique rollicking story that careensfrom the almost familiar instantly into a world of what is happening here?
“Not so much a novel as a perpetual- motion machine: part road-show, part parable, careening between surrealism and comedy”
“Laugh out loud rambling tale of the future/present”
“Prepare to be blown away”
“On the cutting edge of audacious literature”
“Takes madcap to a new level, blending Preston Sturges and Philip Dick”
“Outrageous and thought-provoking”
“Just blown away.”
“Fantastic and bizarre”
“Lovecraft turns Beatnik and drops acid”
“One of the absolutely most freakishly odd books I have ever read”
“It’s like E. L. James, Larry Flynt, and Hunter Thompson somehow merged their DNA”
“Even Carrie Fisher (yes, her vagina is in here) isn’t safe from this menace!”
“If you are looking for a completely unique book, this one is hot!”
“Funny and intelligent”
“Wild, trippy, fun, and sometimes profound”
“I found myself engaged, disconnected and overwhelmed all at the same time”
“No one would ever expect this”
“Imagine a world where Thin Man was co-written by Tim Leary and Douglas Adams and set in the Office staffed by assassins”
“Brilliant, raunchy, hilarious, heartfelt, and by the end, breathtaking”
“Social satire at its best”
“In the end, this romp becomes something else. It becomes a work of art, moving and funny and memorable.”
Editor’s note: Technically it is her vulva, not her vagina.