Lies & Ugliness
Bootlegger. Bon vivant. Rakish pilot of vintage British fighter planes. Explorer of far-Eastern lands and opener of a new spice route to the West. None of these terms has ever been applied to Brian Hodge, an oversight he bitterly resents. He is, however, content to be known as an exceptional raconteur.
raconteur, n. [Fr.] A skilled teller of anecdotes; one who tells a good story.
In a review of his first collection, The Convulsion Factory, esteemed critic Stanley Wiater stated, “This writer knows where the sad people, the bad people, and the mad people live.” Indeed. For his expansive command of characters as well as the situations, from the visionary to the grittily mundane, in which he finds them, and for his lyrically crafted prose and skewed perspectives (not to mention his penchant for run-on sentences), Hodge has racked up an eclectic list of comparisons: from Elmore Leonard to Clive Barker, from Honoré Daumier to David Cronenberg, from Carl Jung to Marilyn Monroe*.
Now comes his most far-reaching collection yet, 150,000 words chronicling the people, places, and things that his readers have come to expect, but never predict: The dancer who becomes the latest repository for the fervent sexuality that fueled the world’s most ancient cities. The serial killer whose grasp of media symbiosis puts him light-years ahead of the law. The modern-day castrato learning undreamt-of lessons in love, death, and divine madness. The Civil War veteran living a grotesque twist on the Old West myth of the outlaw who never takes off his gun belt.
William Faulkner once noted that writers are congenital liars … that if they weren’t liars, they would never have become writers in the first place. In that spirit, Brian Hodge has been enthusiastically lying ever since his earliest mastery of the alphabet, guided by only one stipulation:
Never letting a trivial thing like the facts get in the way of the ugly truth.
* Sadly, the Monroe comparison is a total fabrication.
- “Madame Babylon”
- “The 121st Day of Sodom”
- “Cancer Causes Rats”
- “Some Other Me”
- “Nesting Instincts”
- “Before the Last Snowflake Falls”
- “An Autumnal Equinox Folly”
- “Far Flew the Boast of Him”
- “Now Day Was Fled As the Worm Had Wished”
- “Pages Stuck By a Bowie Knife to a Cheyenne Gallows”
- “Driving the Last Spike”
- “Little Holocausts”
- “Dead Giveaway”
- “Past Tense”
- “Our Lady of Sloth and Scarlet Ivy”
- “The Last Testament”
- “The Alchemy of the Throat”
- “Come Unto Me, All Ye Heavy Laden”
- “Endnotes: From the Gutters of Civilization to Your Discerning Eye”
“Hodge, one of the most articulate members of the younger generation of dark fantasists, applies his considerable talents to finding original embodiments of fears and anxieties that define his soul searching characters … Readers will have to look far to find a more thoughtful and thought provoking collection of dark fantasies.” — Publishers Weekly
“A bravura performance by a true virtuoso.” — Locus
“I didn’t find one story in this piece of work that wasn’t beautifully written. Hodge’s prose has a musical, lyrical quality to it, and his stories are more than just tales, but intricate and thorough investigations of a life, a problem, or a world … Hodge never takes me where I expect to go. Hodge took me to places I’d never even dreamed of. And then twisted some of those.” — Blood Rose
“As dark and disturbing as the stories are, they are always intriguing and compelling, richly detailed and vividly described. Hodge tests society’s enveloping mores and expectations, writing stories that others dare not and revealing ideas that people in polite society dare not discuss, often crossing out of the realm of acceptability.” — The Boulder Daily Camera
“Reveals, more than any of his previous (and wonderful) collections, the depth and range Hodge has as a writer. There may be those who write with as much authenticity, but no one has more ability to find the truth in as many forms or write it so well as a story. Hodge has the capacity to put his palm over the flame and carefully observe his flesh char — then write about the experience with unflinching, exquisite prose … 150,000 words of Brian Hodge at his best — and his best is extraordinary indeed.” — Cemetery Dance