Are You Loathsome Tonight? – Poppy Z. Brite
Tales of “fearlessly offbeat” horror from the author of Lost Soulsand Exquisite Corpse (Locus).
Poppy Z. Brite, an acclaimed horror fan favorite, is known for going to the edge and back—and this collection of stories, many set against the backdrop of the author’s native New Orleans, explores the outermost regions of murder, sex, death, and religion.
Featuring titles such as “In Vermis Veritas,” “Entertaining Mr. Orton,” and “Mussolini and the Axeman’s Jazz,” as well as collaborations with Christa Faust and David Ferguson, this volume also offers notes on each story by the author, an introduction by #1 NewYork Times–bestselling author Peter Straub, and an afterword by Caitlín R. Kiernan. Are You Loathsome Tonight? is an edgy, gruesome tour of “the darkness at the heart of things [with] a number of superb stories, powerful in style and characters” (Locus)
It’s time to bust out Poppy Z. Brite.
Poppy and Clive Barker were my go-to authors back when I was still in my horror phase. This collection of shorts with the lovely title of Are You Loathsome Tonight? is a potent brew of gay, gore, sex and violence with a ghost or two coming back for more.
I had fun and a bit of nostalgic pleasure creeping myself out with the kind of stories I used to read. Blood and violent deaths I could deal but the thing that made me tsk in disapproval is Poppy’s tendency to objectify Thai ladyboys and Asian twinks, treating them as nothing more than exotic pieces of meat to be fucked and eviscerated by serial killing white boys. Let’s put this sad trope to rest, shall we?
In Vermis Veritas: In which a maggot contemplates his existence and rejoices in being a maggot. Well, enjoy your meal.
Arise: Washed up British pop star faked his own death and is now hiding in Gabon. Receives a missive from former band mate to come to North Carolina where he found new inspiration thus giving new meaning to the phrase making a comeback.
Saved: Billy who get off at guns and violence hires an Asian submissive to do his bidding. Asian sub complies, sex play ensues and Billy’s trigger finger twitches. Gratuitous.
King of Cats: A shifter version of The Poor Miller’s Apprentice and the Cat in which Nick, the apprentice, preferred the company of cats to the humdrum life of a miller. Can’t blame you, Nick.
Self-Made Man: Yet another Asian gay boy falls prey to blonde, blue-eyed Justin, a lonely cannibal who just wants a living boy to call his own. That twist in the climax was unexpected but at least they got their revenge.
Pin Money: A stab at historical featuring French-Chinese Perique and his complicated relationship with his father. Interesting characters and setting. I would love to read this as a full length novel.
America: Two-man band on the road share tall tales. This is really more of a sketch than a story and possibly, a shout-out to Lovecraft.
Entertaining Mr. Orton: Featuring two sets of couples, one, old queens in a relationship that has long since expired and the other, young men still very much in love. Goes from sad, bitter and tired to fresh, cute and sweet.
Monday’s Special: Another sketch where Mr. Brite becomes Dr. Brite as Poppy indulges in a fantasy where he took a different career path. Stick to you day job, Poppy.
Vine of the Soul: Adorable couple, Trevor and Zach from Drawing Blood, celebrates the coming of the new millennium in Amsterdam with a new concoction of chemicals. Powder sniffing aside, this is the fluffiest story of the collection.
Mussolini and the Axeman’s Jazz: Putting a twist on the historical events of the WWI era where the ghost of Francis Ferdinand goes on a hunt for the author of his assassination. I like the usual standard fare of serial killings interwoven with actual historical tidbits but the execution lack oomph.
Are You Loathsome Tonight?: The title piece paints a sordid picture of Elvis’ decline and demise for our morbid pleasure. TMI on Elvis’ bowel movement and hygiene practices. I’m more of a Beatles fan.
In Vermis Veritas – 4 Stars
Arise – 4 Stars
Saved – 4 Stars
King of Cats – 3.5 Stars
Self-Made Man – 3.5 Stars
Pin Money – 4 Stars
America – 3 Stars
Entertaining Mr. Orton – 4 Stars
Monday’s Special – 3 Stars
Vine of the Soul – 4.5 Stars
Mussolini and the Axeman’s Jazz – 2.5 Stars
Are You Loathsome Tonight? – 3.5 Stars
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Soundtrack: Said the Spider to the Fly
Artist: The Paper Chase
Album: God Bless Your Black Heart