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In another victory of style over substance, Koja (Kink, 1996, etc.) offers up more of her creepy-crawly worldview, this time in short takes in a first collection of 16 stories (15 previously published). What to do when your dead girlfriend rises from the grave, along with some other folks, all of whom have neat, new, silvery eyes? Drew learns a quick lesson in afterlife etiquette in “Reckoning,” but it does him little good when everyone gets blown away by some young bucks prowling for freaks. What to do when you lust after your next-door neighbor’s boyfriend—who’s a guy you—ve never actually seen but hear in action every night through the wall)? Because she’s bored and restless, Lurleen sets a trap for the one she imagines to be an erotic jackhammer in “Angels in Love”—only to discover that the man of her dreams really isn’t human after all (nor is he an angel). Keeping truly odd company, Federico Garc°a Lorca and Sylvia Plath wind up here, too, in “Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard” and “Lady Lazarus,” respectively, as the final moments of their lives are vividly (if rather too transparently) evoked. But Koja’s blunt, visceral, at times incantatory style really takes off when she reaches the limits of “normal” experience without dipping into a bag of cheap tricks—as in “Pas de Deux,” in which a would-be dancer degrades herself in the pursuit of perfection (even to the point of death); or as in “The Disquieting Muse,” which features an empathic art therapist whose manner works wonders with psychotics—until he finds himself aroused and confused by one of his clients. Otherwise, what we have here is a grab-bag of shock effects and ooze, boosted into a semblance of distinction by one who knows disturbingly well the power of words.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1998
ISBN: 1-56858-122-X
Page count: 202pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998


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