With our Save the Culture articles highlighting a Chuck Palahniuk book recently, Steve Taylor-Bryant took a really good look at himself as he read Burnt Tongues...
I really don’t like to place books into categories. Some will naturally fall into a label, Sci-Fi, Horror and the like, but some cross so many labels as readers mature and writers become more creative with their prose, that it is unfair to categorise the titles. However, as a reviewer it is a handy tool to explain to a potential reader what to expect and Burnt Tongues certainly falls into a category.
Transgressive - Involving a violation of moral or social boundaries.
Burnt Tongues is essentially a superb prize for new writers that deserve recognition. Edited by Richard Thomas, Dennis Widmyer and Chuck Palahniuk, Burnt Tongues is a collection of short stories hand picked by Chuck through a writing project, The Cult Workshop, founded by the editors. Each writer has crafted a tale with twists and turns that can be as addictive as they are disgusting. You must read the introduction by Chuck Palahniuk in which he explains why this book, along with those he read as a younger man, you might never finish, or have to put them down, recover your moral compass and return to the pages at a later date stating...
“We return to troubling films and books because they don’t pander to us—their style and subject matter challenge, but to embrace them is to win something worth having for the rest of our lives”
I can not argue with that statement at all. I had to put the book down multiple times, but as much as I was shocked, challenged, and downright sickened by some, if not all, of the stories, I also marvelled at the bravery of the authors as they wrote the stories that may be uncomfortable reading but are perversely entertaining. A Vietnam veteran talking to a young boy about love until he strangles him, a group of young girls that have a suicide pact involving a hot-tub and cleaning chemicals, a dare at work that ends up with torn up insides due to a chicken satay, animal cruelty, a man with special needs that thinks he's love with a store clerk. Each story has a right to exist within our already darkened world and, after lots of thought it could be that the writers are holding a mirror up to society and screaming "look at what you’ve become" and perhaps that is the key to how each and every writer has made me look deep inside myself at what I myself could be capable of.
I am going to score this book, which we don’t normally do, but in no way is the result either myself or our website telling you that you must buy a copy. This is a book for those with a strong stomach, those that want to stare into the abyss and have it look back at them. Burnt Tongues is in every sense the dictionary definition of Transgressive. I felt violated by the boundaries crossed, and I found I liked it - A lot!
I have not mentioned every writer’s story, just a few that start the book but every author deserves recognition for their work. Here are their names and you really do have to be careful of what this talented group are capable of doing to your soul.
Neil Krolicki, Chris Lewis Carter, Gayle Towell, Tony Liebhard, Michael De Vito Jr, Tyler Jones, Phil Jourdan, Richard Lemmer, Amanda Gowin, Matt Egan, Fred Venturini, Brandon Tietz, Adam Skorupkas, Brian Howie, Brien Piechos, Jason M. Fylan, Terence James Eeles, Keith Buie, Gus Moreno, Daniel W. Broallt
Burnt Tongues is available here if you are very sure you want it.