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Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories
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Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,870 ratings  ·  90 reviews
A collection of erotic horror stories follows the adventures of solace-seeking lonelyhearts on a North Carolina highway, behind a dusty Georgia carny show, in a Baton Rouge mausoleum, and an alley in Calcutta.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Dell (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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J.w. Schnarr
I rescued this book at the Calgary Horror Con because I couldn't stand to see it sitting there like an orphaned puppy, waiting for someone to pick it up. This kind of puppy, however, is for very special owners. It drinks human blood and shifts in and out of reality like a shadow in a strobe light.

For those who have not been exposed to Poppy's work, this is an excellent primer for what is to come. And, honestly, if you haven't read at least something by Poppy Z. Brite,your horror education is sor
Adam Light
This was my first Poppy Z. Brite read.
There were some excellent stories here, my favorites being Calcutta, Lord of Nerves and The Sixth Sentinel.
Great collection, and I'm glad I finally gave this author a read.
Every once in a while you stumble across an artist who is in the wrong time… Poppy is one of those authors, and artist who seems as if she was born too late to be happy. From reading her stories you can envision her walking with the likes of Lovecraft and Poe. I assume they would discuss language, the beauty of the written word and the terrors of their hearts. Brite has a style that harkens back to the 1800’s when flowing language and beauty could be found in even the darkest of tales. This coll ...more
Gorgeous prose, unforgettable images. These stories are very dark, heartbreaking and visceral.
Spencer Distraction
I actually have the original version of this, called 'Swamp Foetus'. Yes, I'm gloating.
Robert Beveridge
Poppy Z. Brite, Wormwood (Dell, 1994)

This relatively early collection of stories (her first collection, and third published work, previously known as Swamp Foetus), collects stories written between 1986 and 1992. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is watching the progression between the earlier and the later stories; you can tell before getting to the end (each is dated) which are which, after an example or two of each.

This isn't to say the earlier stories are bad, they're just ra
Well to be honest, I have read all of the Poppy Z Brite Gothic horror novels and short stories. The Forward states that this is one of her first pieces of work..or something to that effect.

Ms Brite is one of my favorite writers - there are no boundaries with this woman, however I found these stories a little too cliche with the whole skinny, pale, thin, goth thing. It feels like she just started out when she wrote these stories and because I have read everything else by Poppy, it fell a little s
Twelve stories of artists cursed with dangerous talents and intimacies shared even after death and further tales of Lost Souls's Steve and Ghost. In an otherwise useless introduction, Dan Simmons writes that Brite's "work may be described--perhaps even by her--as 'splatterpunk,' but it is not" (xxiv). Brite's (early) fiction is as lush as it is repulsive, often entrenched in the humid South, at its best taking the guts and gore of what might be splatterpunk to a level which is resonant and haunt ...more
This wasn't the worst collection of short stories I've read, but they just did not appeal to me. I don't mind that they're dark and rather disturbing. No, it's more that they just did not seem to get to the point - the author's prose was descriptive and very apt to the subject matter. The anthology was published in the 90s but that does not hamper its style. There were a few bright spots - times when flashes of brilliance peeked through - I thought that 'Optional Music for Voice and Piano' was s ...more
J.S. Bailey
I've been reading this collection of stories slowly over the past few weeks. I knew they were going to be gross due to what I know about the genre that Ms. Brite writes in, but some of them were downright icky. I only read this book because I wanted to try out something different for a change--and different is definitely what I got!

Aside from the ickiness contained therein, I thought that most of the stories in this collection were mediocre. Some of them could have been better developed than the
This was my first Poppy Z Brite book and I loved it. It combined two of my favorite things, short stories and horror. I was sucked into each story within just a few sentences. Poppy's power of description is outstanding, I was always a bit bummed when a story ended; each story could easily go on as a novel. There was a mixture of ghosts, psychic darkness, zombies, gore, emotional darkness, voodoo, dystopia, and humans in situations and
with feelings so easy to relate to it's easy to imagine your
One day I am going to go to New Orleans & see if the city truly is the witchy, pansexual, decadent place that everyone makes it out to be. But until then, here is another book under my belt by a NOLA writer. I appreciate Brite's unique voice & the love she has for her characters. This collection was a great way to kill an afternoon, but by the time I got to the last half of the book, I was already familiar with the characters & plot twists she had set up in the first half of the book ...more
Poppy Z. Brite has a writing style that is hauntingly unique. Her brutal imagery adds to the overall atmosphere of every short story. My favourite story is second to last..."Calcutta, Lord of Nerves". Definitely a read for the open-minded who have a certain penchant for the macabre. Definitely a shining piece of work by one of the most brilliant writers of my time!
I had heard a lot about this author and I picked this up through despite not being very keen on the short story volumes. Well I read the first story and lost interest in it. It was very short and not that interesting. Guess I need to read the full length novels she writes before I can comment on her writing style!

0 out of 5
Joshua Gross
Some of these stories I really enjoyed and some of them were just ok and some of just didn't do anything for me. On the other hand, I found the prologue by Dan Simmons highly entertaining. Dan Simmons showed that he was arrogant old kook, and I'm exceptionally curious as to why he has/had such a boner for Poppy Z. Brite...
Jo Anne
I recently read Poppy Z. Brite's novel Lost Souls and while I liked it very much, this collection of short stories quickly passed Lost Souls by. Wormwood is gory and sickening and heartbreaking as each story introduces a broken human being. My favorite, and for me, the most heartbreaking, is The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire. Leah is loved by both Jonny and Cleve, and when she finds herself pregnant, doesn't know which man is the father. No matter as she has arranged for an abortion. Jonny i ...more
Shelley HW
I think Poppy Z. Brite is an excellent writer with amazing imagery in every sentence, but this was a little too gross for me. I enjoyed the poetic style but I didn't get much out of each story.
I read this many years ago and thought it was like the best thing ever. I happened upon a used copy recently and decided to reread. Not a good idea, this time around, aside from the two Steve and Ghost stories, I found the majority of the stories blah at best. characters were underdeveloped and the storylines meh at best. It seemed as though she sacrificed character and story development to amp up gross out / freak out factors. This is a good book for an emo goth kid, a waste of time for anyone ...more
Christy Stewart
Poppy Z. Brite should re-write all the American classics and then I might be inclined to read one of them.
Nicole Field
It's that time of month again, when all those books I was halfway through a week ago get finished one after the other.

I don't really tend to read short story compilations. The trouble with short stories and me (reading or writing them) is that just as I start getting into them, they wrap up. Also, in a collection of short stories, the anthology is only as good as its weaker piece.

On the whole, though, this collection was invigorating and devastating and full of such gems of completely perfect w
Je découvre Poppy Z. Brite version "nouvelles".
Un chronique qui me rappelle à l'ordre, car je n'ai toujours pas écrite ma note sur "Alcool", mon coup de coeur 2010 (lu en octobre).
Donc incursion dans le petit monde de Poppy Z.B., cet univers fantastique, glauque et putride que j'avais côtoyé lors de ma lecture "d'Ames perdues".
En entrant dans ce recueil, me voilà en terre un peu connue. La première nouvelle met en scène Ghost et Steve, les deux jeunes artistes du groupe Losts Souls, personnages
Adrian Chamberlin

My first introduction to the works of renowned horror writer Poppy Z Brite. NB: - I believe the US edition is entitled WORMWOOD.

An intriguing introduction from Dan Simmons (Hyperion, Song of Kali)whets the appetite. He came across the works of Ms Brite via a reading of her tale "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves" at a SF conference and was blown away.

That story is without a doubt one of the highlights of this collection. I myself am a sucker for tales of horror set in far off, exotic l
Jul 16, 2010 Fence added it
Shelves: short-stories, sff
I’ve said before that in most cases for me to really love a book I have to have well written/developed characters which is possibly why short stories don’t always grab me; they just don’t have the time or space to develop the characters. So is the case with these short stories by Brite. For the most part the writing is excellent. The stories themselves very atmospheric and, in the main, creepy and so perfect for the RIP Challenge, but I just didn’t care about the characters at all. In the first ...more
I go back and reread these tales every few years, even though I know the plots by heart, just because the language is so rich, the images as beautifully macabre as deadly nightshade. How I wish Poppy would go back to writing horror. But since 'she' got gender reassignment surgery to become a 'he' and has retired from writing because of some kind of spinal condition that is not going to happen. Still, we've got these testaments to such a powerful wordsmith.
Suzanne Rooyen
Once again Poppy Z Brite has bewitched me with her writing. She has an uncanny way of making even the most macabre and grotesque scenarios into things of beauty with her prose. I loved the two Ghost and Steve stories - I've missed those characters since Lost Souls. My favourite stories in this anthology were definitely those set in New Orleans, a setting Brite writes with clear insight and love.

If you're looking for dark and lovely death-rock horror, I strongly recommend this anthology.
I love Poppy Z. Brite. She says in her FAQ that she's finished with the whole "pasty-faced goth" thing, and she isn't kidding. These stories date mostly back from the time when she wasn't yet, and they have some of the naivete you'd expect from that -- but not as much as you might think. She was, and is, a very insightful author, and her style reflects a fantastic talent for going all the way to gross-out without ever losing the feel of poetry, the Romantic fascination with the very beautiful an ...more
Trevor Firetog
As I grow older, I find myself starting to enjoy Poppy Z. Brite's work more and more. There were stories in this collection that I enjoyed more than others, but the fact that I could not find a weak story really speaks to Poppy as an author. I really wish Poppy still wrote books.

I hope I don't sound depraved when I say that this collection has everything that makes me happy: Love, death, romance, darkness, sadness, blood, ect. For me, it's just perfect. And though most of these stories are homoe
Timothy Covel
A collection of gothic tales that are horrific, erotic, and brutally human. Not everything in this book is pleasant, it is not a light read, but the stories are captivating.
Jam Alcid
It is said that a certain darkness is needed to see the stars. In Wormwood's case, the darkness is Poppy Brite's mind and the stars are the narratives inside this gem of a book.

Sure, it was at times gross to the point that I am mentally scarred, but it was all necessary because those great details complete the landscape of her stories. Imagine if she held back.. if she censored her mind and killed those gritty images.. I doubt that she'll ever come up with genius material such as the ones inside
Spiral-python Schnzrpunk
Loved it. Some fantastic stories. I think I prefer Brite's short stories to his novels. Really loved to read another story about prob my fave Brite character, Ghost, and the 'seventh sentinel' was one of the best horror short stories I've read in a while.
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Poppy Z. Brite (born Melissa Ann Brite, now going by Billy Martin) is an American author born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Born a biological female, Brite has written and talked much about his gender dysphoria/gender identity issues. He self-identifies almost completely as a homosexual male rather than female, and as of 2011 has started taking testosterone injections. His male name is Billy Martin.

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“You hold onto what you have; you do not give it up easily, even when you know it is poisoning you.” 69 likes
“With the first kiss his mouth will taste of wormwood.” 12 likes
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