Dear Sweet Filthy World

Caitlín R. Kiernan. Subterranean, $40 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59606-819-3
The 28 stories (most previously available only in her e-zine, Sirenia Digest) in Kiernan’s newest collection of dark fiction (after Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea) explore the human and inhuman conditions in all their filthy glory, and bravely wallow in the effluvia of mythology, murder, and depravity. The Red Riding Hood–esque, downright scary “Werewolf Smile” is about a woman whose flighty lover becomes a muse for an artist obsessed with the murder of Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia); the tale explores the intersection of violence and art. Kiernan puts her paleontology roots to good use in the atmospheric “Paleozoic Annunciation,” about a paleontologist who travels half a billion years back to a vast ocean as an ambassador to another species, and comes back dramatically changed. The grotesque underground carny attraction in “The Eighth Veil” isn’t for the “squeams,” and “Another Tale of Two Cities” is about a woman who surrenders to the “builders” inside of her. Perfectly bookending the collection is the disturbing “Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad #8),” in which incestuous twins murder and torture their way through the American South until the tables are turned on them. Unflinching, raw sexuality and grim imagery pervade the collection. Kiernan’s dense, meandering style may not appeal to everyone, but her many fans will be overjoyed to have these works collected. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 03/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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