Thanks once again to my good friend Tom Powers for this week’s review!
Author Anthony Beal’s Funereal Diseases of the Mind – Fifteen Tales of Dark Erotica (Hexed Flesh Books 2009), in short, opened my eyes to the provocative and lyrical language that can be found in the genre of horror erotica. I confess that I am neither a fan of horror in any genre, mainly because I prefer sci-fi/fantasy (and I am squeamish), nor am I particularly fond of erotica in general, perhaps myopically viewing it as lust-filled writing that lacks strong characterization or interesting plotting. The combination of these two genre approaches, however, in Beal’s collection of short tales, actually works to a successful degree, making me reconsider my former assumptions.
In Beal’s tales, he also offers a cross-genre sampling of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and even romance. You will read about sexual devotees of a death goddess, a twisted love triangle, a brilliant alien sculptor, an ultimate-fan-detesting horror author, a jealous Egyptian god, an apparently living photograph of a beautiful, jealous woman, and a prescience-granting Gorgon lover – amongst a plethora of colorful characters and situations. As for the writing itself, its eclectic influences can definitely be traced to such masters of the short and longer form as Poe, O’ Henry, Lovecraft, and Rice.
For those of you potential readers who may fear that Beal is simply offering misogynistic fiction to the masses due to the fact of his gender, I can honestly say that he has taken an egalitarian approach in that both the men and women within his tales may equally be placed into the roles of master or servant, or torturer or victim, depending on the story. As a reader, the game you will then play is to determine who represents the cat or mouse respectively in Beal’s unpredictable narratives!
And yes, Beal’s language can be strong at times, and the sex and violence in his writing may be off-putting to readers who are new to the genre of horror erotica. To elaborate, in Beal’s fifteen tales, sometimes he presents the body and sexual situations in a lascivious fashion, other times in a manner that is sheer poetry. But this is dark erotica Beal is writing after all, so we must expect a fair quotient of love, lust and body horror in the stories. Once more, if you are like me, a reader who definitely needs new narrative forms to challenge his literary expectations, then Funereal Diseases of the Mind – Fifteen Tales of Dark Erotica is the right text to stir you out of your intellectual lethargy.
Review by Tom Powers.