Poppy Z. Brite  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Poppy Z. Brite (born Melissa Ann Brite on May 25, 1967) is an American author born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Literary history

Early in Brite's career, she was best known for writing gothic and horror novels and short stories. Her 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 her better known novels include Lost Souls (1992), Drawing Blood (originally titled Birdland)(1993), and Exquisite Corpse (1996); she 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). She has also written a biography about singer Courtney Love (1996), which was officially "unauthorized" but is widely known to have been done at Love's suggestion and with her cooperation.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Brite has moved away from horror fiction and gothic themes while still writing about gay characters. Her critically acclaimed Liquor novels -- Liquor (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 her 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 she severed her relationship 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. She has described Antediluvian Tales, a short story collection to be published by Subterranean Press in November 2007, as "if not my last book ever, then my last one for some time." She is still writing short nonfiction pieces, including guest editorials for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and a food article for Chile Pepper Magazine.

One interesting and popular aspect of Brite's work is her use of recurring characters in works that are not necessarily "series" or "sequels": the friends/bandmates Steve and Ghost and the residents who interact with them in the fictional town of Missing Mile, North Carolina (Lost Souls, "Angels," "How to Get Ahead in New York," "America," "The Rest of the Wrong Thing"); her fluidly gendered alter ego Dr. Brite, the coroner of New Orleans ("Monday's Special," "O Death, Where Is Thy Spatula?", "Marisol," "Crown of Thorns," "Wound Man and Horned Melon Go to Hell"); and most recently longtime companions/chefs Rickey and G-man (The Value of X, Liquor, Prime, Soul Kitchen, D*U*C*K, numerous short stories). About her fondness for revisiting characters, Brite has said, "If I really get obsessed with a character or set of characters, it's usually not enough for me to write about them once; I like to revisit them over the course of time, at different periods in their lives, learning new things about them, getting to know them better and better over the course of several stories." Of her various recurring characters, Brite has stated that she is finished writing about Steve and Ghost and suspects she may be done with Dr. Brite as well. She plans to continue writing about Rickey, G-man, and the Stubbs family.

Brite has often stated that, while she will allow some of her work to be optioned for film under the right circumstances, she has little interest in movies and is not overly eager to see her work filmed. In 1999, her 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 her books, only Exquisite Corpse is currently under option, by producer Simon Rumley.

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

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Poppy Z. Brite" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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