Gothic Text files Review: EXQUISITE CORPSE by Poppy Z. Brite

Publishers Weekly - June 24, 1996

Simon & Schuster, $21 (240p)
ISBN 0-684-82254-7

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, 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 points 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.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1996

Brite, Poppy Z.
Simon & Schuster, 240 pp.
$21.00 Aug. 1996
ISBN 0-684-82254-7

Or _Necrophiliacs -- The Serial Killers' Love Story_.

Brite's first horror novel, LOST SOULS (1992), a high- intensity rock'n'roll epic about southern white trash vampires, gained much of its energy from parody and her over-the-top bloodlust. A follow-up, DRAWING BLOOD (1993), cleverly absorbed an R. Crumb cartoonist into Brite's universe of lyric soul-sucking. In this third novel, the author, now 29, outdoes herself, creating a pair of gay necrophiliac lovers -- both serial killers -- who meet in New Orleans for a feast of corpse-eating and coupling with the rotting dead. Brite may well lose fans this time, her superbly composed arias on the most disgusting forms of death and sloshy decay being likely to turn off many admirers of her previous torchlit searches through the caverns of hell. Is it art, or simply a compulsive rolling-about in the most intense descriptions possible of the ecstasy of hideous murders and the gourmet delights of human flesh-eating? It's sure repulsive. And yet Brite can be defended as an artful poet of murder and obsession, uncannily capturing the dead souls and unhinged appetites of two memorable characters. The plot follows the adventure of young serial killer Andrew Compton, who escapes from a British prison cell by playing dead, flies to Atlanta, then to the Big Easy, where he meets wealthy young serial slayer Jay Byrne. The two quickly realize that they're kindred spirits as Jay leads Andrew into ever greater refinememts of gay desire and bloodlust. Meanwhile, the gaudiest of several subplots features the pirate-radio station WHIV and its AIDS-infected host Lush Rimbaud. That's all of the plot you need to know.

A blood-soaked romance with human entrails and sandwiches of flank- meat lightly fried in butter. Shocking and fascinating in about equal measure, but only for the strongest stomachs.

From: (PndraStn)
Subject: Re: Exquiste Corpse: A Review
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