Edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer
Medallion Press, $14.95, 329 pages
Burnt Tongues: An Anthology of Transgressive Stories, edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer, is a collection of what is considered by the editors as the 20 best short stories to come from their emerging writers workshop. These stories are highly imitative of Palahniuk’s own work, featuring: suicide, sex and medical irregularities. Some seem to revel in the grotesque just for the sake of shock value, while others follow more closely in their model’s footsteps to hone in on socially isolated narrators who are struggling through the best of their gritty, dark, festering lives, often toward death.
“Even if you hate these stories, you’ll come back to them because they’ll test you and prompt you to become someone larger, braver, bolder.”
A man pretends to be a reclusive author. Three high school girls make a suicide pact. Women go to drastic measures to lose weight. A Vietnam veteran reminisces about raping women during the war. Only one story is fantastical: a male undercover journalist goes to a zombie whorehouse. Only two stories out of the 20 are written by women.
This is a book for people who enjoy reading both emerging authors, and fans of Chuck Palahniuk’s work.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins