Five darkly erotic short novels that entwine love and death, with horror boosting the sex, by World Fantasy Award winner Simmons (Children of Night, 1992, etc.). Simmons has never been more stylish than here, with the short novel form compressing his effects and squeezing a lurid glow from each page. Best of all, each piece stands richly distinct from its companions and casually shows fearful labors of research uncommon to the horror genre, with writing of an unhackneyed freshness seldom found among the kings and queens of gore. ``Entropy's Bed at Midnight'' tells of the woes and fears of an accident-insurance investigator, his mind a library of fatalities, whose young son died in a freak driveway accident and who now watches his five- year-old daughter set forth alone on a screamer slope for sleds. ``Dying in Bangkok'' unveils a sucker-tongued female vampire in a superbly drawn Bangkok, whose Thai clients pay her to suck blood from their erections—a revenge tale whose twist would delight Poe. ``The Man Who Slept with Teeth Women'' tells of the astral initiation of an adolescent Sioux who will be the wise man of his tribe, of his need to choose a bride from lovers with teeth in their vaginas, and of his climactic penetration. ``Flashback'' is an sf story about a near-future family hooked on a drug that induces flashbacks so that one may relive high-intensity and even imaginary moments in one's life. Explosively gory, ``The Great Lover'' is a relentless tour de force that may well become a classic (along with ``Dying in Bangkok''). Drawing on poems by WW I poets and attributing them to a single poet, this works a variation of the visionary Angel of the Somme (a glowing woman whom soldiers saw walking the battlefield) and turns her into Death as a languorously sexual Pre-Raphaelite goddess whose embrace transcends life. Enduring stuff—even more memorable than Simmons's novels.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 1993

ISBN: 0-446-51756-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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