By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Tanzer, Molly. A Pretty Mouth. Lazy Fascist Press (October 1, 2012).
Molly Tanzer’s debut collection, A Pretty Mouth, jumps through time, but remains committed to providing chuckles and bizarre scenarios, ranging from addictive octopus secretions to sexual shenanigans with corpses. Tanzer throws everything and the kitchen sink at the reader. Though this might feel like a way to ensure the house of cards collapses, the book manages to stay on its feet, for the most part.
Tanzer’s greatest asset is the sheer glee of her stories. She seems to be in it for the fun of it. And, because she is having fun, it is difficult not to have fun with her.
Not to say there are not issues with the collection. At some points, things seem to get a bit…well, not quite dull, but there is a moment when you may want to put the book down and part from it for a bit.
However, this is really a smaller detail and, if anything, I would advise you to consume the collection in smaller doses instead of ploughing through it in a single sitting. I also didn’t really connect with the concluding story.
Ultimately, Tanzer takes a leap and I admire any writer who does. There is too much safe stuff on bookshelves. Tanzer’s wild collection, though, is not afraid to crash. Tanzer has a swagger of her own which shows in these stories and that, more than anything, is the drawing point for the book.
As for the stories themselves, they range in style and time setting. The book is arranged in reverse chronological order, starting in the 1920s and concluding in the Roman era. There are plenty of bodily fluids, madmen, deviants, and horrors to be had with each time period.
I don’t particularly enjoy pastiches, but Tanzer’s take on Jeeves or a Gothic heroine-slash-pornographer comes out as charming instead of derivative and she reveals a solid grasp of the voices she channels, whether they are Wodehouse or Henry Fielding.
In the end, I feel the same way I felt when I first encountered Tanzer in my to-read pile for Historical Lovecraft. At the time, I believe I told my co-editor the writer seemed to be on crack, but she had to see this.
I stand by those words, though now I think Molly doesn’t need any drugs to conjure her convoluted and extremely bizarre characters.
A Pretty Mouth is recommended to horror and Weird lovers of all stripes. And if you don’t enjoy it, shame on you, dear madam!
You can buy A Pretty Mouth from Amazon.com.