A double-header today before we take a brief posting hiatus!
Here we have two books by Poppy Z. Brite, both recommended by a Disturbing Books LJ member some time ago: "DRAWING BLOOD" and "EXQUISITE CORPSE."
As our member said in the original post: “[Exquisite Corpse] is downright graphic and haunted me with the sex/death combo, and [Drawing Blood] was just gutwrenching with the first chapter’s graphic description of a little boy witnessing murders.”
First, about "DRAWING BLOOD":
From Publishers Weekly
Brite ( Lost Souls ) comes into her own in this second novel that should establish her as not only an adept in the horror genre, but also as a singularly talented chronicler of her generation. Five-year-old Trevor McGee wakes one morning to find that his father, cartoonist Bobby McGee, has murdered his mother and younger brother, then hanged himself. Twenty years later, Trevor, now a cartoonist himself, returns to Missing Mile, N.C. (a fictional town also featured in Lost Souls ), and the now-haunted house of his youth for answers: Why did his father choose to spare his life? What prompted the loss of creativity which Trevor himself now dreads? Meanwhile, 19-year-old Zachary Bosch, himself the tormented result of disturbed parents, arrives in Missing Mile on the lam for computer hacking. The two fall in love, and, with Zach’s help, Trevor finds that he can reach the horrible but liberating truth the house holds for him. Though subplots and secondary characters sometimes hamper the pace of the main plot line, they do serve to evoke a certain 20-something, cyberpunk-era zeitgeist that resonates with the concerns of contemporary youth.
From Library Journal
Zach and Trevor are young men who fall in love in a haunted house where Trevor’s father murdered his family and killed himself, sparing only Trevor. An underground cartoonist like his dead father, Trevor has returned to the crumbling house in rural Missing Mile, North Carolina, to learn why his father spared him. Zach is a hacker on the run. He is a popular and exotic extrovert while Trevor is a painfully introverted virgin. With the help of Zach and psilocybin, Trevor confronts his father in Birdland, the comic town that his father created, even as the FBI traces Zach to Missing Mile. Drawing Blood is a flawed but compelling story. It’s labeled “psychological horror,” but the horror gives way to a suspenseful, offbeat gay romance. The first half, where Brite’s powerful characterizations and settings are drawn, is hard to put down. But the haunted house is tame, and Trevor’s struggle to learn to love Zach lingers overlong in homoerotic material, straining the momentum. The FBI arrives in time, however, to lend some suspense to the ending.
And now "EXQUISITE CORPSE":
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.
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.