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.