Renee French, Author, Jamie S Rich, Editor, Renee French, Illustrator, Jim Woodring, Introduction by, Julie E Gassaway, Designed by . Oni Press $17.95 (232p) ISBN 1-929998-10-4

The cover of this retrospective of French's work depicts a softly shaped, bunnylike creature. But just below that image, organized in an eye chart of sorts, is a series of delicately drawn organs set among images of a coffee cup and a birthday cake. Is that a donut or a cervix? This iconic misdirection is a perfect invitation to what lies ahead in this collection of stories from the creator of The Soap Lady. The story "Mitch and the Mole" presents a boy delighted with a furry pet that he accidentally kills. Readers witness his useless attempts to bring the animal back to life by placing its severed claw, held up with a toothpick, in a glass of water. Most of the stories in this collection involve violation, mutilation and illicit sex, and French's depictions elucidate themes of loneliness, cruelty and people's failure to recognize distress in each other. Her ability to merge the worlds of terror and innocence allows her to effectively lure readers into her nightmarish world. In stories like "Corny's Fetish" and "The Ninth Gland," she offers a sense of hope through the occasional sweet relationships between people and animals. But French's scalpel cuts straight to the marrow of true horror, revealing an innocent but undeniably erotic pleasure in imagining the repugnant. The result is a book that, while often difficult to stomach, is worth reading for its power to unearth the sometimes emotional and terrifying core of our own imaginations. Notable comics creator Jim Woodring provides an introduction. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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