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Swamp Foetus: A Collection of Short Stories

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,946 ratings  ·  126 reviews
The name of Poppy Z. Brite is well known to most horror fans. What some do not know, though, is that Brite hit the ground running as a fiction writer, and some of her best work so far is right here in this collection of a dozen tales (originally published as Swamp Foetus) she wrote between ages 18 and 24. The exigencies of long plot development and evolving characters that ...more
Hardcover, 190 pages
Published December 1st 1993 by Borderlands Press (first published 1993)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,946 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really brilliant horror stories. The kind you get jealous of. They tread the lines between horrors, they're subtle and rich and tactile. They're never ever predictable or stale. Of particular interest is "His Lips Will Taste of Wormwood," which uses Lovecraft's "The Hound" blueprints and constructs a startingly good yarn with. Exciting prose, sensuality, good macabre notes for us death-centric types. I'd never read Brite/Martin before but I've got other paperbacks coming and look forward with in ...more
J.w. Schnarr
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Spencer Distraction
I actually have the original version of this, called 'Swamp Foetus'. Yes, I'm gloating.
Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Gorgeous prose, unforgettable images. These stories are very dark, heartbreaking and visceral.
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.
Robert Beveridge
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
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
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
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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...
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. The atmosphere in most of these stories drip with sex and violence and it is impossible to not let it engulf you.

There's even two zombie stories in here that I really liked after I was convinced I was bored to death of zombies.

Greatly recommended.
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, horror, vampire
Poppy Z. Brite is definitely one of my favorite authors. Visceral, earthy, magical.
Amanda || eastofreaden
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, lgbt
I am not the biggest fan of short stories at all, but I love Brite's work and once I got my hands on this I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I started reading this in a haze of pain killers during the first week of October after a medical emergency with a broken blood vessel in my nose, and I was so out of it I thought I was imaging the scenes and stories. I set it aside for a few days, came back to it when I was lucid, and realized that the book really was that surreal.

One of the stories that
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
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtiqa
The third book I read as part of my Poppy Z. Brite (now Billy Martin) phase years ago.

I do remember certain characters quite vividly and I really liked some of the stories. And some of the stories I just didn't connect with at all. I felt that some of the characters were a little bit flat -- it's hard to develop characters with a lot of depth in just a few short pages.

I think the missing element here was Martin's classic New Orleans atmosphere that he's so well-known for. Some of the stories ha
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Shelley HW
May 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
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.
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-and-owned
It's like living in a song by The Cure.
Christy Stewart
Poppy Z. Brite should re-write all the American classics and then I might be inclined to read one of them.
Sean Chick
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poppy Z. Brite is the only published fiction author I have read that I have actually met. She came to Holy Cross High School because one of her fans (David Leonard, class of 1999, where are you?) invited her. She was nice, open, weird unpretentious, and seemed uncomfortable. This now seems obvious after reading Wormwood. Having read this book, I too would feel weird speaking with a bunch of horny teenage boys. If the administrators had paid attention they certainly would not have allowed her in, ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poppy’s work shines best when evoking gritty characters that inhabit every page like a shared flophouse. “A Georgia Story” is a Grotesque wrapped up in the trappings of the Georgia goth-industrial scene. “The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire” follows a doomed love triangle before veering deeply into magical realism. “Optional Music for Voice and Piano” artist whose art destroys others, and what he does to stop it, and “Xenophobia” oddly racist story about kids who watch a corpse.

This character
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pense-bête
Le moins que je puisse dire c'est que ça me sort de ma zone de confort parce que le fantastique version horrifique ce n'est une lecture habituelle pour moi. J'ai aimé l'ambiance un peu poisseuse et presque méphitique de cette Nouvelle-Orléans des bas -fonds. Même si elles sont nombreuses les nouvelles qui m'ont mise très mal à l'aise. le style hyper détaillé dans le gore et le dégoulinant à tendance sexuel, le glauque imbibé d'alcool et d'odeur de putréfaction. Rien ne vous sera épargné à cette ...more
Miloș Dumbraci
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An 8,5/10 collection of (rather) short stories, most with a Southern/cajun touch, about various things hiding in plain sight on the fringes of our ordinary world.
The good: highly original in ideas; very good expressive and descriptive (but not too much) writing; very believable and convincing ”facts”; powerful story-telling (one feels sucked into the dread); King-like quality, but even creepier.
The bad: almost all the stories are about a couple of young emo male rockers, under different guises/n
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an easy page turner showcasing the then rising star of an author who has made a massive impact with Lost Souls and Drawing Blood, both novels featuring characters first seen here in the short fiction. I wish Poppy was a more prolific author as i am so eager to read more of her work. Be warned this is also published as Wormwood, same book different titles which really annoyed me when i bought both off of Amazon. Even so an excellent collection from a very dark fabalist.
Mel Geronazzo
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever watched the movie Eraserhead?
You know that feeling you have right after it ends and you just sit there in your corner of slight existential horror and churning, nagging fear of your own mortality and sanity?

That's basically the feeling of reading these stories.
It was the first time I had ever read something that could plant those feelings inside me's... indescribable.

Pick this one up, please! Some of these will absolutely wreck you!
Jesse Lehrer
Aug 31, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
couldn't finish it. It reminds me of my own that it's bad. It's dark, weird, emotional, etc. all things I write and love and can get behind - but like my own writing it is extremely amateur, in desperate need of editing and guidance and a clear actual plot of wtf is going on. You could literally divide this book up into its pages and stick it back together in any order and the stories would all basically meld together and make sense.
Young At Heart Reader
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Brite's voice is so unique: dark, haunting, and slightly grotesque. Some of the descriptions are intense, but, compared to his other works, seem almost tame in comparison. However, many of the images in these short stories tend to stick.
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Any recommendation for book regarding short stories of any flavor??? 1 3 Mar 23, 2017 10:02PM  
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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.

“You hold onto what you have; you do not give it up easily, even when you know it is poisoning you.” 78 likes
“With the first kiss his mouth will taste of wormwood.” 19 likes
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