Monday, 30 January 2012

Review of PLACENTA OF LOVE by Spike Marlowe (Eraserhead Press, 2011)


Placenta of Love

Much like a feature-length, adults-only episode of Futurama, this novella is a deranged cartoon set in space. In an alternate future, the planet Venus has been transformed into a theme park catering for both big and small. On the one hand, it's a place of childhood fantasy, of laughter, light and life, where the atmosphere is made of cotton candy and every dream comes true. On the other, it’s a place of dark adult desire, of cabarets and fetishistic sex, of gruesome death and funeral pyres, where nightmares can’t be contained by sleep. This polarity is mirrored by the characters: a na├»ve, childlike pirate, Captain Carl, who uses a dildo as a finger; a worldly-wise cat, Jiji, who likes nothing more than a good spanking; an insatiable placenta, Helen, creator and destroyer. Here, the dividing line between friend and foe is indistinct. A supposed enemy may, in fact, be an ally; a lover may transform into a monster. And it’s rendered in brilliant, kaleidoscopic detail, the attention to color and texture akin to that in Carlton Mellick’s The Cannibals of Candyland, the horror as sticky and bloody and icky as Chuck Russell’s remake of The Blob. A book which is a pleasure—at times, an uncomfortable one—to read, a sickly sweet, sweetly sick love story.

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