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Burnt Tongues Paperback – August 12, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Despite its little-heralded status in literary circles, the counterculture genre known as transgressive fiction, wherein the author and/or protagonist bucks social conventions by violating one or more taboos, actually has a rather illustrious history. Classic novels such as Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, featuring the murderous Raskolnikov, for instance, can be categorized as transgressive fiction. In this collection of 20 contemporary short stories, lead editor Palahniuk makes certain each piece qualifies as an example of both first-rate craftsmanship and something that pushes the envelope of social acceptability. In Neil Krolicki’s opening tale, Live This Down, three humiliated high-school girls plot their suicides using a poison-gas recipe gleaned from the Internet. An animal-shelter technician in Chris Lewis Carter’s Charlie recognizes the tortured cat someone drops off as one he himself abused when it was a kitten. Matt Egan’s A Vodka Kind of Girl recounts the sad fate of a calorie-counting, bulimic woman. Anyone looking for boundary-breaking tales that also pack a haunting, powerful punch will find hours of entertainment here. --Carl Hays

Review

“This is a book of spores. These stories, you breathe onto the page and they float up into your mucous membranes, their spiky edges lodging characters and voices in your head that shudder to life when you least expect it. Just when you think you’ve closed the book, it opens up all over again, inside you.”

—Stephen Graham Jones, author

"Burnt Tongues' 20 stories "are as eclectic as the authors themselves", said Titan Books, which has just acquired the book in the UK, with titles ranging from Zombie Whorehouse to Mind and Soldier."

—The Guardian

"Anyone looking for boundary-breaking tales that also pack a haunting, powerful punch will find hours of entertainment here."
— Carl Hays, Booklist

“Fans of transgressive fiction authors such as Palahniuk will enjoy this selection. . . .”
—Brooke Bolton, North Manchester P.L., IN, Library Journal Review

“Dark, subversive and disquieting fiction for readers ready to go all the way down. “
—Kirkus Reviews

“Within the covers of this wonderfully disturbing, squirm-inducing collection, you’ll find all the mortifying, self-inflicted scars you go through great pains to hide from even our closest intimates. . . . Sometimes you’ll want to avert your eyes or silently close the book, never to touch it again, but stay with it. There’s real soul and humanity lurking under all the fluids and scars, and you’ll emerge all the better for tackling it head on, albeit in want of a shower or two afterwards.”
—Dino Parenti, Pantheon Magazine

“The off-the-wall subject matter is balanced well with pathos and compassion, and the end result is a powerful bunch of stories that you won’t soon forget.”
—Josh Black, Hellnotes
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Medallion Press (August 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605427349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605427348
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Though earlier examples have existed, only to end up banned or destroyed, transgressive literature is often cited as germinating with the Marquis de Sade in the late 1700s, before spreading (some would say “metastasizing”) with the works of Emile Zola, Henry Miller, and William S. Burroughs, and more recently, trafficked throughout the novels of Irvine Welsh and this very anthology’s co-editor, Chuck Palahniuk.

More risqué in nature than the gothic and noir, yet skating the rim without slipping fully into the empty literary doldrums of all-out pornography, transgressive fiction deals in marginalized characters seeking redemption and identity within the bizarre and grotesque. Violence, incest, body horror, and drug abuse are just a few of the taboos the genre uses as vehicle by which to explore the human condition, in the process unveiling some nasty truths that many people would rather keep chained and out of view in the labyrinths of their hearts and minds.

In an effort to further legitimatize and codify the genre, Palahniuk, along with neo-noir writer Richard Thomas and filmmaker Dennis Widmyer, have amassed twenty festering, bruised tales dredged up by some of the hardest rising authors working in the field today. The result is Burnt Tongues: An Anthology of Transgressive Stories—“Burnt Tongues” being a phrase Palahniuk has used to describe the deliberate misuse of words in awkward, interesting ways to jumpstart the reader into seeing them anew.
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Get this book! I'm a huge fan of short story anthologies and of Chuck Palahniuk, so when I saw this was coming I pre-ordered with high expectations. Those expectations were met and exceeded. Each author has a distinctive, strong, yet different voice. Some are definitely disturbing, but in totally different and unexpected ways. Some made me sad, some made me angry, they all made me feel something, which is how I judge whether a story is worthwhile or not. All of these stories are definitely worth checking out. The history of this book is that the stories selected were first work-shopped on chuckpalahniuk.net and the best stories were sent to Chuck Palahniuk to read and critique. I'm assuming that the finished product were those already strong stories edited with Mr. Palahniuk's suggestions. If so, Mr. Palahniuk should open a writing school and use this as his advertisement. I'm definitely going to look for more stuff by each of the authors.
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I liked this book. Going against Palahniuk's recommendation in the forward, I read the entire book straight through in about two days. I don't think that takes anything away from the read, and I'd like to go back and re-read certain stories, because some were better than others, but in all, I was pretty impressed. That said, I'm giving this book a 3 star rating because I already like the work of Chuck Palahniuk. I knew that going in, and I knew he had essentially hand-picked these stories for inclusion in the compilation. He's the reason I bought the book, and to that end, I really enjoyed it. But that's the thing...I enjoyed it because it is so much like a lot of the works that I've already read by Palahniuk. If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, Chuck should feel very good about this one. It's almost like the authors in this set of stories (some of them at least) set out to write exactly like Palahniuk, as if they'd been assigned to write in the style of their favorite writer. And they do a good job. The stories are interesting, well written, taboo, and sometimes shocking. Worth a read if you're a Palahniuk fan, for sure. But it leaves me wondering why I wouldn't just pick up Choke, or Lullaby, or Fight Club and read that again instead. I might as well get the real thing if that's what I want.
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I absolutely love this book, its been absolutely amazing!!! Ive been reading it everday since i bought it, unable to put it down. Every story is enthralling and every story has some meaning within it and can definetely speak to readers. I enjoyed it fully as most who bought it. Beyond worth it!!!
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I love Palahniuk, so I decided to trust in his editing of an anthology, and it did not disappoint! There were a few stories, if I never read again, eh I doubt I'd mind, but most are just simply put, great short stories, told by brilliant hardly known, if at all writers. It claims to be an anthology of transgressive stories, and that it certainly is! Great, great, easy short reads!
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Great book. The short stories are all very good, well written and have not traditional endings. Something for everybody in this collection! You'll probably even have a few favorites. It is well worth your time to read these. I read most of them on a flight to Vegas. I felt well prepared for my adventures in that town after reading a few of these stories.
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I love transgressive fiction, but have not been able to find much of it. This book is such a lovely collection, of so many great stories in this genre. Some of these stories are phenomenal and extremely inspiring. I am so pleased with this purchase and have been very entertained by it.
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