Liquor Reviews

Here’s Rachel Brown’s review of Poppy Z. Brite’s Liquor from Green Man Review. I agree with the review, but I wish they didn’t all have to point out how unlike her early work this book is. I understand the reasoning behind it – to bring back people that might have been scared off by things like Exquisite Corpse and prevent goth fans of her old stuff from being disappointed expecting another Lost Souls – but it seems like a drag to have to.

On Dueling Modems, where Rachel and I both are active, one member posted a dismissal of the book. Here is my reply to that dismissal, with all the stuff directed at the poster edited out:

I thought the book was fabulous, and full of the most important kind of
questions, things of immediate relevance to my life, the same things
that keep me up at night and that I just spent my whole breakfast
worrying about.

  • How can it be that I love what I do for a living but hate most of my
  • Why am I working so hard and not getting any closer to having the life
    I want?
  • Is this idea I have good enough to create a business around?
  • Would pursuing that business make my life better or worse?
  • What if I try and then fuck it all up? Would I have been better off
    never trying?

These sorts of things drive the book, and I was with them on every hand
wring and recrimination, every breakthrough and setback. I thrilled when
it went well and cringed when it went poorly. This is a book about
growing up, ceasing to be the man-child who is chronologically an adult
but basically living the life of a high schooler, getting stoned and
drunk and working his ass off with no real adult concerns. It’s about
crossing the line from working the joe-job to being the boss, and how
hard and scary that can be.

This shit is life, and that’s why it mattered to me much more than all
her other books. I loved Lost Souls, but there’s only so much empathy I
can have with goth vampires. Ricky and G-Man – these guys are me, they
are my friends and family. In every way, it is a better more mature book
than any she has written. This is the same Poppy with all that raw
talent after she has grown up, not unlike her characters. I’m with her.

I never reread books, and I’m going to reread this one even though I
just finished it. I want her to write the next book of these guy’s
lives. I want her to write the book where they are on top of the world,
and the one where they screw it up and lose the business, and all the
points in between. I’m way more engaged by her writing about the world I
see than when she was writing violent fantasies.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.