Friday, September 08, 2006

Love ,Horror meets Gothic angst in the Vein Of Poppy Z Brite.

by Jose Rommel Labatos





I just put down Poppy Z Brite's Drawing Blood It's her second wonderfully written novel that actually left an after-taste in my brain. I could not shake off It's like the experience you get after you have eaten a really exotic and spicy meal that the memory of it lingers in your mouth and makes your lips water as you long for more, but you realized that it could be the last time.

Eccentric characters from a small town.These are the things that surround Ms Brite's second novel; "Drawing Blood". I bought a copy of her other work "Wormwood" a collection of short stories some time ago. Someone sent it to me as a present.

I think I re- read Wormwood twice. I eventually met somebody who burrowed it and never returned it. I just hope she set the book on a road trip .Who knows what strange pale kid would grab it along the way, and fall inlove with the stories. I miss it but at least now I have Drawing Blood.

Poppy Z Brite lives and writes in New Orleans with her husband Chris and the company of three dogs and 19 cats. Before her series of novels, she had been a chef mouse caretaker at a cancer research lab, a gourmet candy maker, an artist model and a stripper. She wrote her first story at the age of six and headed an underground paper in her high school days called The Glass Goblin. She has been nominated for the Bram Stoker award, as well as the Lambda award for gay fiction.

I still like Anne Rice but I think Poppy has an edge when it comes to the concerns of today's youth. She is the chronicler of her generation. She is dark (however you define the term) and humorous at the same time.

She grew up at North Carolina (her family moved from time to time) before coming back to New Orleans. Her first novel was Lost Souls, about two musicians who met a group of Vampires. Then followed by Drawing Blood. The setting for the second novel is in North Carolina, in the fictional town called Missing Mile.

The story revolves around Trevor a comic book artist who is haunted by the demon of his past, the grizzly murder that took place in his house twenty years ago perpetrated by his father, a tortured cartoonist. Now he's back to that old house; at Violin Road ,Missing Mile to confront the madness that plagued him through the years.. Enters Zach, a computer hacker he meets along the way. Haunted down by Law and Order from New Orleans, Zach (who looks like Edward Scissorhands ), winds up at Missing Mile. They met and the roller coaster ride of horror begins.

The thing with Poppy's writing is that her characters go on even after you put the book down. They resonate with that longing within you, your darkest secrets and dreams. But then again some readers might be put off by the blatant homoeroticism of her stories. But then the strength of her stories relies on her prose which is like a fine elegant wine that glides on the throat so smoothly, or that smell of rose littered damp earth after the rain-anything that fires up your imagination with sensuality. And she concentrates more on the characters’ issue rather than on the gore.





Consider this: And this map of pain he had to carve out of his skin, this had been no half assed attempt at suicide, anyway. Trevor knew that to kill yourself you had to cut along the length of your arm, had to lay it open from wrist to elbow like some fruit with a rich red pulp and a hard white core. Had to cut all the way to the bone, had to severe every major artery and vein. He had never tried it.







Or thishunched Zach haunched himself up on his elbows,stuck the joint in his mouth,and raked a hand through his thick black hair.Some French Quarter deathrockers spent hours before the mirror trying to achieve the precise combination of unnatural-looking blue-ebony hair and bloomless translucence of skin that had been visited upon Zach by simple genetics.

Her characters are so vivid, so whacked out, and so dysfunctional but charming you’d think you know them already and somehow I wish I did. I mean I already miss Trevor, Zach.Eddy and the whole bunch of freaks occupying the bulk of the novel.



Strange as it may seem, for all its gore and violence, Drawing Blood ends up as a wonderful love story between Zach and Trevor. A must read for the aficionados of the Gothic genre.

I have only read two of her books but I wish I could read them all. I wish there many books like that. I wish it would rain. Damn I have to set by myself again and muse. But I thank her for introducing me again to the beauty and strangeness of the world around us. I think I am going to read it again to prolong my time with the characters.


Drawing Blood,

Dell publishing, 403 pages, genre: Horror.

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