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Honey & Sulphur

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For he spake—The gates of divinity part and out rush predatory birds. The taste of strawberries. The shepherd raises their right hand, breaks bread. An owl by any other name. There is a merry gaiety in harvesting human teeth from nectarous fruit.—and it was done.

He commanded—A hellscape of rot and rut. Brittle angels and biting insects. Flutes salt the earth. The corpse of a coelacanth dissolves into pastel foam. Sibilant language chewing women, ushering neurotoxins, belching charred oak. And, then, rain.—and it stood fast.

Ekphrastic prose and poetry in (ir)reverence to The Garden of Earthly Delights.

156 pages, Paperback

Published February 12, 2019

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Joseph Bouthiette Jr.

12 books4 followers

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Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews
Profile Image for Rajiv Moté.
Author 6 books9 followers
February 24, 2019
I learned the word "ekphrastic" in the context of this anthology--works of art that describes or dramatizes another work of art, in this case, Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" triptych. The painting is a rich mine of stories, which I learned writing my own contribution, and I was curious where the inspiration would take other writers. Three stories stood out for me.

Kyle E. Miller's "Froth of the Liquid Jade" opens the anthology. It's in the style of a fairy tale, and its strength is in the strange world-building, with a rain of frogs, empathy-based magic that threatens the hero's sense of self, a villain with an external, serpentine ego, and a giant, talking frog. There's something lovely about a hero whose strength lies in his kindness.

Joanna Koch's "Paradisium Voluptatis" uses the Boschian imagery in drug-fueled horrorscapes, unsettling metaphors, and the triptych structure of the painting to frame the characters and the emotional arc. There is gorgeous language throughout this story and a sickly, nightmarish edge. The ugly beauty or beautiful ugliness is haunting.

M. Regan's "The Gall" is a tense countdown of dread using the creepy imagery of insectoid metamorphosis to mask even more disturbing transformations under the surface. Scritch-scritch. A description of a game of hide-and-seek has never been creepier.
Profile Image for Hailey Piper.
Author 70 books539 followers
May 23, 2020
This anthology has two of my favorite 2019 short stories, two stories reprinted into a later Year's Best, poetry by award winners, and a choose your own adventure story at the end.
It's bizarre and gorgeous both inside and out. Anyone who loves weird or dark fiction should make owning this anthology a priority.
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