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Exquisite Corpse [Paperback]

Poppy Z. Brite
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 20 1997
From the author of Lost Souls, Drawing Blood, and Wormwood comes a thrilling and chilling novel that bestselling author Peter Straub says serves as a “guidebook to hell.”

To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his “art” to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his “art” to limits even Compton hadn’t previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.

Swiftly moving from the grimy streets of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the decadence of the New Orleans French Quarter, Poppy Z. Brite dissects the landscape of torture and invites us into the mind of a killer. Exquisite Corpse confirms Brite as a writer who defies categorization. It is a novel for those who dare trespass where the sacred and profane become one.

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Product Description

From Amazon

You've probably heard that this love story about two cannibalistic serial killers (loosely modeled after Dennis Nilsen and Jeffrey Dahmer) is over the top. You've been warned about the lovingly meticulous descriptions of murder and necrophilia. But the novel also features a keen look at the AIDS plague, in a setting almost worth dying for: Brite's doomed aesthetes dance in a sweet, heady New Orleans of milky coffee and beignets, alligators, Billy Holiday tunes, scented candles, pirate radio, swamp French, andouille sausage and one bar for every 175 people. And the structure is the tightest of Brite's books so far. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Blood-soaked sheets, cannibalism, rotting, half-dissected corpses: this gruesome psychological horror novel has all the grue a reader might?or might not?want. Brite (Drawing Blood, 1993), the reigning queen of Generation-X splatterpunks, pulls out the stops in this ghastly tale of two serial killers who find true love over the body of a murdered and mutilated boy in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans. Londoner Andrew Compton, imprisoned for the necrophiliac slayings of 23 young men, escapes from prison by (rather unbelievably) faking his own death and killing the coroners gathered to autopsy his body. Fleeing to Louisiana, he hooks up with Jay Byrne, slacker scion of a wealthy old family, a man whose murders are even more fiendish than Compton's own. Brite is a highly competent stylist with a knack for depicting convincing, if monstrous, characters. Her plot development rests too heavily on coincidence, however, and on an excess of details drawn from the life of real-world serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. Though Brite shifts point of view throughout, she always returns to Compton's first person. This technique gives the narrative rhythm and emotional force but also seems aimed toward intimating the reader in Compton's acts of dehumanization ("the aesthetics of dismemberment") and depravity. And so what Brite really presents here is, ultimately, yet another crimson leaf in the literature of the pornography of violence.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Death Is Everywhere . . . June 4 2004
After I finished reading Exquisite Corpse, I was struck by the thought that one could, with the benefit of hindsight, make the argument that it is a transitional work in the sense that it represents a bridge between Poppy's earlier writing in horror to her current desire to write realistically about "real life" in New Orleans, as she does in her latest novel Liquor. In other words, EC is a transitional novel in that it contains both the fantastic elements of her earlier work (in this case, sophisticated serial killers) and the realistic concerns of her present day work (in this case, the horrible reality of the AIDS epidemic). Really, the only thing that keeps EC from being a totally realistic novel is her rather romanticized portrayal of the two serial killers. I say romanticized because most serial killers are mindnumbingly prosaic as human beings, and the only thing that makes them "interesting" is the fact that they have managed to kill a lot of people before being caught. I read biographies of both Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, and I found myself depressed by the absolute banality of their lives. They, or most real life serial killers, aren't exactly the real life counterparts of Poppy's Andrew Compton or Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter.
The horror in Exquisite Corpse is not derived from supernatural sources like with Poppy's earlier novels, such as the vampires as in Lost Souls, or a haunted house in Drawing Blood. Rather, the horror in EC is derived from the sources we find in real life such as violence and disease.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly Disturbing May 25 2004
By CreepyT
Andrew Compton is a sickly twisted serial killer who seeks both solace and beauty in the slaying of young boys. However, his art cannot be perfected while in prison. Thus, Compton feigns his own death and escapes to the US. Quite unintentionally, Compton runs into a man named Jay Byrne while in New Orleans. They find they have a deep, inexplicable bond that few would understand. They both revel in the beauty that is death and torment. Thus, the two set out in search of their next victim, Tran, a disillusioned youth recently kicked out of his home and onto the streets because of his homosexuality.
Though this book contains necrophilia, extreme violence, cannibalism, and gore, in no way is this a horror novel. Rather, "Exquisite Corpse" seems to fall into a category of disturbingly erotic romance and/or twenty-first century pop-culture literature. No matter how one decides to classify this novel, it can be said that this is a novel that will not soon be forgotten.
This thought-provoking book will have you cringing in disgust, writhing in torment, and engaged with awe all at the same time. Poppy Z Brite has a way of sucking the reader in with her elegant prose and gorgeously vivid description that seems unrivalled by many other authors. There are few who can make torture and pain beautifully artistic. True, this book is not for the feint of heart, but if you can stomach the seemingly repulsive atrocities on the surface and dig for the deeper meaning, there is wisdom and insight to be found there.
Poppy Z Brite approaches homosexuality and AIDS in a straightforward, no-holds barred manner. What has been, and still is, taboo for many is not for her. She brings current issues plaguing our society to the surface and forces the reader to acknowledge them.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Ersatz Johnson April 10 2004
By A Customer
I came to this book through searching for a horror title(having read Brite's comments on Thomas Ligotti and Caitlin Kiernan).
While "Exquisite" is relatively engaging in the same manner as all "who-can-look-away-from-a-train wreck "-type literature is, it is lacking in originality or multi-perspective voice, which is important seeing that it encompasses 4+ characters, all of whom are described(in inner thoughts and outer actions) in relatively the same voice.
I think the most telling aspect is the Dennis Cooper blurb on the front cover of the copy that I have. Whether or not Brite's novel is intentionally referencing Cooper's work, it is highly derivative when compared to his oeuvre (in terms of ultra-violence that happens to be homo-sexual and aimed at certain beautiful, young males who seem to, knowingly or not, beg for a victim stance).
It is also a bit tired in terms of the whole serial killer m.o: if its intention is to shock, is the "strangely logical and precise" illogicism of animalistic and repeated murder any longer original or shocking? In sum, no.
It is definitely gross and sometimes spot-on in it's aping of the crime descriptions of a killer who sees his crimes through the lens of an arch aesthete. I also admired a late plot turn that -- without giving away too much info -- involved the "fated" meeting of two individuals. The humid, savage New Orleans descriptions were also nice.
I also admire Brite's moxie in tackling a male voice and genre and getting so many pornographic (in terms of male, gay sex) details right.
Intriguing, if not ground-breaking or earth-shattering. Recommended for an interesting read, but don't expect to be overly surprised or overcome by subtlety or fineness of prose.
I recommend Cooper's "Closer" for something more believable, if not extreme, in the same vein.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Wow
While I would not define this as horror, my best advice is reader beware. I was taken in by the story, but left unsettled by the gore and violence portrayed within. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2010 by A Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Excelllent!
The book was in pristine condition, not a bend or scratch anywhere! The delivery was efficient as expected. Overall good quality product!
Published on April 22 2010 by Taco Trivia
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book Ever
This books opens the mind to a whole new world of fantasies. You will be amazed, juts don't read it before bed. Or too much of it at once. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2006 by Thorn Draven
1.0 out of 5 stars Well well.
Yup. I should have listened to my gut instincts as soon as I read the ridiculous title, but noooooooo, I had to go ahead and read the whole damn book. Read more
Published on May 25 2005 by Angie
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm
Well, I really wanted to love this novel. It seemed just my kind of thing when I read the editorial reviews. But I was deeply disappointed. Read more
Published on June 3 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars It's been a while
I read this book when I was a punk-gothic teenager full of angst and rebellion. Now I'm a mother, a career woman, and I remember very little about this book. Read more
Published on May 21 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars morbidly interesting -- not for the squeamish
Poppy Brite writes incredibly well, but I kept wondering, where in the world does she come up with the ideas, the detail, for the gore? Read more
Published on April 18 2004 by Lori Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars Needed more character depth, less gore
If you have not read Poppy before, do not read this novel first. Even if you have read her, and loved her, proceed with extreme caution. Read more
Published on April 5 2004 by Erin Sparrow
3.0 out of 5 stars Tres Interessant.
As many others have said, you cannot unread Poppy Z. Brite. I would not recommend this book to rather immature people, seeing that the subject manner is quite disturbing. Read more
Published on March 9 2004 by "jessietheinsane"
1.0 out of 5 stars What happened?
After reading and loving Lost Souls and Drawing Blood I thought I finally had another author to add to my list, but how wrong I was... Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2004 by varnya
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