cover image WRONG THINGS


Poppy Z. Brite, . . Subterranean, $35 (150pp) ISBN 978-1-931081-25-2

The analysis of pain reverberates in this brief but powerful collaborative venture between popular horror writers Brite (Are You Loathsome Tonight?) and Kiernan (Silk). Their outstanding joint short story, "The Rest of the Wrong Thing," which is set in Brite's fictional town of Missing Mile, N.C., packs an electric punch. When Tyler, the main character, says, "Sometimes things pass too close to us... Things from other places. Machineries of blood and starlight. Wrong things," she could easily be talking about any terrible thing that we have no control over. Here the wrong thing is an object, a supernatural souvenir that causes a cotton mill disaster. Tyler, a waifish girl with purple hair, has an obsession with righting wrongs that is also echoed in the two preceding stories by each author: Brite's excruciating "The Crystal Empire" and Kiernan's softer "Onion." Both feature abnormal female characters facing enormous conflict. Brite's tale focuses on a manipulative relationship in which the tormented, a pathetic love slave named Zee, finally rebels against her tormentor, her sick groupie boyfriend. In striking counterpoint is Kiernan's ethereal Willa, whose suffering comes not so much from a relationship but from Willa's ability to receive and perceive the paranormal. Kiernan also includes an afterword that sheds light on their artistic progress in incubating "The Rest of the Wrong Thing." One only wishes that the resulting shared story had been longer—or that each author had contributed more than just a single additional tale. (Nov.)