It has become somewhat of a tradition to kick off the Horror October proceedings by reblogging my favourite read from the previous year.
Back in 2014, Horror October #2 saw me reblog The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, followed by Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory in year three. And last year I took another look at An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman.
To be honest, I struggled to decide this time. Although last year’s Horror October was a brilliant month, none of the books I read for it truly stood out. I enjoyed nearly all of them, but I wasn’t completely blown away by any single book.
I have however decided to reblog my review of Poppy Brite’s short story collection, Self-Made Man. Out of all the books, this is the one that has stayed with me the longest.
Self-Made Man ~ Poppy Z. Brite
Format: Paperback, 180 pages
Publication Details: July 22nd 1999 by Orion
Genre(s): Horror; Short Stories
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it.
This collection of 12 short stories from Poppy Brite contains collaborations with Christa Faust and David Ferguson and an introduction from Peter Straub.
The collection also includes America, which features Steve and Ghost, the central characters in Lost Souls.
For Horror October, I decided to read Self-Made Man, a book of short fiction by Brite that I’d never got round to buying. My friend Dora found it in a charity shop and lent it to me. I was dubious after not really loving Love in Vein, another story collection of his.
Short stories just don’t seem to be my thing, even by authors that I love.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by Self-Made Man. It begins with a very short story written from the perspective of a maggot in a slaughter-house which is basically a showcase for Brite’s ability to make disgusting, putrid things sensual.
Arise, is a story about Cobb, a reclusive ex-pop star who faked his own death, who hears that his old band-mate has died. He then gets a mysterious letter saying that he has left his secluded house to him. Did he know all along that Cobb was alive? And why would he leave his house to him? I really liked this story. It had twists and turns and lots of intrigue.
The titular story, Self-Made Man was a hit too. It’s very much in the same breath of novel, Exquisite Corpse, based on cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Vine of the Soul was a winner too, which reunites us with two characters from Drawing Blood.
The rest of the stories I could take or leave, but my favourite part of this book was the author’s notes on each story. Fascinating, as ever.
This short review was posted as part of a spotlight on the author, written especially for Horror October 2016, which you can find here.