Poppy Z. Brite - Literary History

Literary History

Brite is best known for writing gothic and horror novels and short stories. Brite's trademarks have included using gay men as main characters, graphic sexual descriptions in the works, and an often wry treatment of gruesome events. Some of Brite's better known novels include Lost Souls (1992), Drawing Blood (originally titled Birdland) (1993), and Exquisite Corpse (1996); he has also released short fiction collections: Swamp Foetus (also published as Wormwood, 1993), Are You Loathsome Tonight? (also published as Self-Made Man, 1998), Wrong Things (with Caitlin R. Kiernan, 2001), and The Devil You Know (2003). Brite's "Calcutta: Lord of Nerves" was selected to represent the year 1992 in the story collection The Century's Best Horror Fiction.

Brite has also written a biography of singer Courtney Love (1996) that was officially "unauthorized", but Brite acknowledges that the work was done at Love's suggestion and with her cooperation, including access to Love's personal journal and letters.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Brite moved away from horror fiction and gothic themes while still writing about gay characters. The critically acclaimed Liquor novelsLiquor (2004), Prime (2005), and Soul Kitchen (2006)—are dark comedies set in the New Orleans restaurant world.The Value of X (2002) depicts the beginning of the careers of the protagonists of the Liquor series — Gary "G-Man" Stubbs and John "Rickey" Rickey; other stories, including several in his most recent collection The Devil You Know and the novella D*U*C*K, chronicle events in the lives of the extended Stubbs family, a Catholic clan whose roots are sunk deep in the traditional culture of New Orleans. Brite hopes to eventually write three more novels in the Liquor series, tentatively titled Dead Shrimp Blues, Hurricane Stew, and Double Shot. However, in late 2006 Brite ceased publishing with Three Rivers Press, the trade paperback division of Random House that published the first three Liquor novels, and is currently taking a hiatus from fiction writing. Brite has described Antediluvian Tales, a short story collection published by Subterranean Press in November 2007, as "if not my last book ever, then my last one for some time." He still writes short nonfiction pieces, including guest editorials for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and a food article for Chile Pepper Magazine.

Brite has often stated that, while he will allow some of his work to be optioned for film under the right circumstances, he has little interest in movies and is not overly eager to see his work filmed. In 1999, his short story "The Sixth Sentinel" (filmed as The Dream Sentinel) comprised one segment of episode 209 of The Hunger, a short-lived horror anthology series on Showtime. Of all his books, only Lost Souls is currently under option, by producer Paul Natale.

A critical essay on Brite's fiction appears in The Evolution of the Weird Tale (2004) by S. T. Joshi.

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