Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories Mass Market Paperback – Dec 1 1995
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The name of Poppy Z. Brite is well known to most horror fans. What some do not know, though, is that Brite hit the ground running as a fiction writer, and some of her best work so far is right here in this collection of a dozen tales (originally published as Swamp Foetus) she wrote between ages 18 and 24. The exigencies of long plot development and evolving characters that sometimes bog her down in the novels are absent from the short story form, where Brite's extraordinary talent for compressed, redolent imagery combines with her keen sense of narrative structure to create perfect little objets d'art. Stories like "His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood," "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves," and my favorite, "The Sixth Sentinel," are too exquisite to be missed.
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Top Customer Reviews
This relatively early collection of stories (her first collection, and third published work, previously known as Swamp Foetus), collects stories written between 1986 and 1992. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is watching the progression between the earlier and the later stories; you can tell before getting to the end (each is dated) which are which, after an example or two of each.
This isn't to say the earlier stories are bad, they're just raw. And raw is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite charming, especially when one encounters another two Steve and Ghost stories ("Angels" and "How to Get Ahead in New York"), which also happen to be two of the longest in the book. It's rather odd to have watched an author create her own shared world and remain its sole inhabitant.
Steve and Ghost aside, there's a lot of fun stuff here for the discriminating fan of viscerally atmospheric (if that makes sense) horror. Brite's tales are not for the squeamish, but she never treads into the realms of Robert Deveraux (or, for that matter, her own novel Exquisite Corpse). Even the zombie story, which is a genre that basically invites excess gore (especially since Peter Jackson's wonderful film Dead Alive), has more of a quiet, dignified air about it (albeit one with some language that may make some neophytes squirm a bit in a different way).
Very good stuff. It's easy to say in hindsight this is the beginning work of a very gifted author, so imagine I'm saying it in 1994 and have amazing powers of presentiment. *** ½
Brite proves she's at her best when the dying flesh is being transformed into an object of art by her blossoming language. (But beware, Brite's blossoming words do bleed a bit, once and a while...)
The eroticism of death and decay is pictured with even more astonishing beauty in another story called 'Calcutta, Lord of Nerves'. My favorite, if you care. It's a tale of wandering through a city that is in pain and in a far state of decomposition itself, for it is buried underneath piles and piles of lepers, dead people, and sometimes undead people. It's a second rate metropolis, who's alleys are filled with deceases, ritually decapitated victims, the stench of the undead, and the eager hands of the Goddess Kali.
This story is more than just 'eerie sadness, haunting silence and explicit solitude', described in a voluptuous, sexy language. It's the literary equivalent of the crede 'mutilation is art'. And this art is being depicted in broad strokes, showed and staged franticly beautiful, screened in Panavision, and not just outspoken in fancy lines and disposable horrorcliche's.
And this is what makes 'Calcutta, Lord of Nerves' more than just a movie of the year. It's a whole new literary cinema of it's own.
Most recent customer reviews
On the whole I enjoyed most stories, but after Drawing Blood and Lost Souls, which I loved, there's no comparison... Read morePublished on Feb. 5 2004 by varnya
I stumbled upon a copy of Love In Vein, the vampire erotica collection edited by Poppy Z. Brite. I thought it would be silly, certainly of lesser merit than something Anne Rice... Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2002 by Mariah Richards
This book was my first exposure to Poppy Z. Brite, and I read it all in one sitting. Sure, some of the stories far outshine some others, but this is almost always the case in a... Read morePublished on June 5 2002 by Christine D Rodriguez
This book is just so awesome, its got lust and decrepid story lines. The stories wrap you up in them,never leaving anytime to escape. Read morePublished on Dec 20 2001
Wormwood, Brite's collection of gothic short stories, serves as a reminder that Brite is one of the most original, most powerful, most interesting voice in modern horror fiction. Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2001 by Sebastien Pharand
Poppy Z. Brite ceases to amaze me. Almost every story she wrote is completely beautiful to me. She uses intimate details and her sensual detail and words create a perfect mood in... Read morePublished on April 2 2001 by Decay
In this little anthology, Poppy Z. Brite manages to be gross, lewd, enthralling, apalling, hungry, innocent, and masterful. Read morePublished on March 10 2001 by Jared J. Ragland
Poppy is one of the brighest stars in the horror galaxy today. While her full length novels can be a bit hard to swallow at times this collection of short stories is hauntingly... Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2000 by NDBerzerker