Review Index


A profoundly vile, nauseating, thoroughly fucked-up novel, and a reading experience as nasty and cathartic as any youíll ever have.  Obviously this book, which unflinchingly navigates a Hell on Earth as a prelude to exploring a real Hell, isnít for everybody.  Iím certain many of you, nonetheless, are fully equipped to appreciate (I would say enjoy, but that would be inaccurate) this book in all its transgressive, bile-inducing splendor.  You know who you are. 

     The authors are Wrath James White and Monica J. OíRourke.  Iíll confess Iím not too familiar with OíRourkeís work, which includes the cult novel SUFFER THE FLESH, but have read my share of Wrath.  He co-wrote the unforgettable sex-and-gore fest TERATOLOGIST with Ed Lee (which until the present book seemed about as extreme as fiction got), as well as the solo novel SUCCULENT FLESH and THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND SINS, a short story collection.  His voice is fully audible throughout POISONING EROS, from the taut, focused prose to the vivid descriptions to the deliberate (mis)spelling of words like cum and Xstasy.

     The book centers on Gloria, an aging porno actress reduced to prostituting herself in the most degrading fashion imaginable simply to get by.  Her current employers are two geeky guys and a shady character named Vlad, who secretly controls the geeks and evinces a disquieting interest in Gloria.  She for her part allows herself to fall under Vladís depraved spell (her only other option, after all, is fucking a giraffe on camera!); he forces her to do horrible things like bang a ghost and romp with a pool-full of horny worm-creatures.  But even worse acts are in store, which include Gloriaís ex-husband and estranged daughter.  Itís at this point, a little over halfway through the book, that Gloria, deciding sheís had enough, commits suicide...and the real madness begins.

     Gloria comes to in Hell, where she undergoes all manner of torture at the hands of apathetic demons.  The authors are at their most maniacally inspired in this portion of the book, with minutely detailed rapes, dismemberments and quite a few acts I wonít even bother describing here. 

     But it seems redemption is in sight for our completely debauched heroine: it involves her daughter, whoís also in Hell, and Vlad, who as you might guess has a place of honor in the inferno, and also the torturing demons, who like their victims are there against their will.  The ending is a surprise, both horrific and curiously uplifting.

     At 136 pages, POISONING EROS is a fast read, and an admirably concentrated one.  It contains nearly every vice conceivable, and in nearly every permutation, but the book is also thoughtful and complex.  Its depiction of Hell can be viewed as a metaphor of sorts for Americaís prison system, in which the heroine finds herself unjustly confined together with equally disgruntled demon captors.  I also noted a very real critique of Judeo-Christian religious beliefs, with their overly rigid set of regulations (Wrath James White, for the record, is an avowed atheist, yet dedicates this book ďto GodĒ).

     In the end, though, POISONING EROS works purely as head-knocking, mind-blowing horror of the most extreme possible variety.  Those who can handle it will find themselves sated--and then some. 

     BTW, Wrath and OíRourke planned a sequel to this book, but that apparently has stalled due (according to Wrathís own comments on his web site) to the authorsí diverging ideas on where the story should go.  Too bad.  Should they ever get it together to write that proposed follow-up, though, I know Iíll be first in line to buy it!

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