A few blogs ago, I mentioned that I was reading a book of short stories by Poppy Z. Brite. As I understand it, she was one of the big authors of the "splatterpunk" horror fiction movement that was big in the early ninties. You can imagine what "splatterpunk" might consist of, so I leave the definition up to you. Still, I think to categorize this woman's writing with such a narrow term is a huge error. I'll put it simply: Poppy Z. Brite is amazing. In WORMWOOD, the collection I'm reading, the subjects range from greedy ghosts to death-fixated youths to mutant twins. If you don't like your horror to be a bit graphic, you might want to pass on this author. But I've read much worse than this--believe me. Yet if you did pass up Brite's work, you'd be missing a lot of other very wonderful things she brings to the table. First, her prose is so gorgeous and evocative that I mentally sink into it. Sounds weird, but...what I think I mean is that her words take me into her world; I sit there and marvel at how beautiful the phrases are, how original and true. Second, after every story, I've had to put the book down (even if I'm eager to keep reading) and just absorb what happened. Brite manages to bring dread and fear to the surface of her work, but at the same time, a lot is still left buried under a mire of subtext. After reading, I'm left with a hammered feeling of loss or heartbreak, if not complete pity for the characters (if they deserve it).
If you haven't picked anything up by Brite, I highly recommend you do so. But be warned, the stories aren't for everyone.