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on October 24, 2009
-- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination." R.Serling(The Twilight Zone)
I knew from reading Cardamon's 'The Werewolves of Central Park' that this writer was different.

I could almost hear Rod Serling's voice(You Tube) as I read this amazing collection of surreal stories from the fertile imagination of Tom Cardamone.The end of each story left me breathlessly dazed and thinking "what just happened here?" I'd have to read the story again!

Ever live next door to a Sphinx? What do you do when you get her mail by mistake?
What happens when lightening strikes the sand? Does a boy become the lightening?
"I woke up floating in an egg." a quote from the first sentence of a story.
Read about the ultimate in submission - Suitcase Sam
A small sampling of the speculative gay and not so gay fictional stories gifted to us by this very creative writer.

"Look out! That's a signpost up ahead!" Tom Cardamone's Mind!
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on November 17, 2011
The story is flowingly written, recherche with the pitter patter of the author's thoughts going here and there. That said this is also a homoerotic AU/Sci-fi assortment- a mish-mash of short stories and it's not one whole story but an anthology. The reoccurring themes are reaching that P-spot and young nubile males. Now, as a rabid yaoi fan girl I thought I would enjoy this but honestly it doesn't peak my interest. The writing is quite good- no- it's not that either, it's astonishingly brilliant; the quality of writing reminiscent of John Updike(think A&P) making even the most common of quotidian actions interesting simply by the breadth of their description! His words paint lurid pictures in your mind, and I was simply amazed at his talent. A smidge jealous because nothing I could write could ever match his utter brilliance, this pulchritudinous verbosity. However, the stories are not truly entertaining for me so I was unable to finish this despite how extremely, and I do mean EXTREMELY, well-written these stories are.

If you like zany, off the top of your head gay erotica mixed with aliens and lots of detailed descriptions of anal cavities being filled-then this is the book for you. And while I do like the thought of two attractive men getting all smexed up, the stories are short and ambiguous with no relationship buildup and the characters themselves are not described. The surroundings are. Feelings are. The stories read like eating lots of different candies and getting a tummy ache. I knew it was short stories from the get go but I thought I would be entertained and I had R-rated thoughts about a sexy sphinx for a neighbor and stuff like that. No, this writing is beyond that. This should not be classified for general consumption but for literary connoisseurs. It fits in well not with the generic novels you can buy at any Walmart, but at a respected library. It's a one of a kind book and for me marks the place of a new literary short story novelist despite its topic or in spite of it. When you read this it's like reading the down to earth Salinger and wondering about the grim realities of life. No, this is not a mere smut novel or a raunchy fantasy book.

This is beyond what you can imagine. So while my erudite mind wholly appreciates this experience- and I truthfully cannot regret a word I have read- for while it is not to my taste I feel as if my mind has learned something from this experience. As if I myself have matured, and that the author were imparting upon me a precious pearl of wisdom. The work is astonishing, and yet not what I would wish to read. It deserved a 5 out of 5 stars and yet I gave it a 4 because I was ultimately unsatisfied with the experience and find the summary to be disingenuous, and I gullibly ate up the thought of salacious sex with a sphinx (or something like that).
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on August 30, 2010
Pumpkin Teeth
Tom Cardamone
Lethe Press

'Lo Peoples,

For me, a stimulating short story anthology makes me want to start writing. I dunno. I guess imagination is catching. I should probably add absurdity and a penchant for pushing the barriers of reader comfort to my extremely communicable fiction list. The only item that left me perplexed about some of the stories were some endings in medias res. I found myself scanning the page for more words that simply didn't appear. Take this as evidence of Cardamone's ability to create immersive story worlds rather than a slight. Thirteen different times, I floated down the rabbit hole. I don't think one can fall into a Pumpkin Teeth story.

These were the journeys that I found most delightful in a wicked sort of way. I'm sure you'll choose your own.

Bottom Feeder presents a first person narrator who has evolved or devolved into the kind of "retirement community" that could be best described as a human version of Flipper or Namu engaged in proctophilic activities and singing.

In Suitcase Sam the first person narrator allows the reader a view into an oddly logical development of the ultimate in sexual submission and objectification. Paraphilia anyone?

Some mythical time ago, in the Far East, the first person narrator in Royal Catamite undergoes a transformation due to the imbibing of too much divine seminal fluid. Now there's a thought.

River Rat features a multi-person POV. IMHO, this is the sweetest of the stories. For those of us who adore outlandish comic book type characters, zaftig women, and free love between humans and former humans are in for a distinctly cupcake-with-sprinkles-shaped treat. I read, I chuckled and cooed in delight, and then I raided the refrigerator.

Since I already believe in the veil between the worlds of the Living and those who have passed on, Cardamone did not have to sell me. The Next Bardo brings its first person narrator "back" to another era filled with regret. What's so wonderful about this piece is the details of travel writing, gay marketing, the isolating effects of being closeted, all set against the loss inflicted by the appearance of AIDS.

Dare I say I look forward to reading the next Cardamone collection?


Her Tangh-i-ness

Note: This copy of Pumpkin Teeth was an electronic ARC acquired from an editor upon the reviewer's request. Her Tangh-i-ness reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.
Pumpkin Teeth
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on December 24, 2009
If ever I see Tom Cardamone's muse walking down the block, I'm not sure whether I'll kowtow or leave skidmarks in terrified flight. Pumpkin Teeth is horrifyingly good.

The stories cover quite a range, yet amidst the wonder and horror, it is the characters' humanity that take center stage (even when they are human monsters). Tom offers tender-hearted tales alongside ones requiring a strong stomach. An example of the latter, Suitcase Sam, yanks you through the ultimate in self-mutilation, dangling its dark themes like bait for the tragically curious.

Every story is memorable, but my personal favorites are the one that juxtapose characters in love beside the truly bizarre: Lightning Capital, The Sphinx Next Door, and River Rat. LGBT themes run through the collection although the book transcends any need for labeling. If you're willing to be amazed or terrified, you will enjoy this book.

Uncompromising and haunting, Pumpkin Teeth brims with the fears, the depravity, the loneliness, and even the heroic love that lurks behind our eyes. It offers a great spread: acts of magic and madness, some governed by surreal circumstance, some self-inflicted, and others destined to happen when people simply behave true to themselves.

This book is a Pandora's box of disturbing delights. Surely it can't hurt to buy it and peek?
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on October 28, 2011
Cardamone's writing style is creative and the stories and characters are quite unusual. There's horror and fantasy with the exploration of sexuality at its core, "Tank" & "Suitcase Sam" are already favorites. He finishes some stories and leaves others with ambiguous endings that left this reader thinking and wondering more than once -- I'll definitely be re-reading some of them. Other stories stayed with me for their shocking and nightmarish qualities. I'm not into horror and this collection kept me riveted, that says a lot in my book.
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on January 20, 2010
I first came across Tom's work while dutifully avoiding doing some real work. "Mishima Death Cult" was the first story of his I encountered and I could not stop reading, even while in a crowded meeting. In fact, I've had to go back and re-read it numerous times. It got me hooked, and I was quick to track down the rest of his fiction that was available at the time. Since then he's published "The Werewolves of Central Park," and now this well selected collection of his short fiction. "Suitcase Sam" is another wonderfully constructed story that had me hooked till the last word was savored. Tom takes a number of fictional tropes that I have always enjoyed (i.e., twisted, ironic, bleak, freakish eroticism) and adds new layers of color, substance, and viscera that have seduced me repeatedly. I look forward to his next release, heavy as it will likely be, with the meaty froth of dark prose I've come to crave.
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on April 12, 2014
This short story collection, which I listened to via Audible, was a wonderful example of a collection of short fiction that shows the range and breadth of a genre without coming across as limited or rote. Tom Cardamone has a way of making the most unique, horrifying, strange, or unreal seem perfectly viable, and in turns these tales will charm, disturb, horrify or amuse.

The downside of an audio collection is not being able to look at the list of titles thereafter, but I will say I was captivated throughout, and more than once took the longer way home to get to the end of a tale before I'd have to turn off my iPod.

River Rat, the boy who rescued lightning, Suitcase Sammies (shudder), parents who may have the last surviving children of an epidemic, and letters from the dead... There is something here for everyone. I do warn you, however, that whatever you expect?

You'll be wrong.
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on July 18, 2015
I hadn't read anything by Tom Cardaome before this book, but I intend to discover more of his work. His short stories are unique and inventive without being silly - my favorite stories in this collection are the ones that dealt with body horror, like Suitcase Sam or Bottom Feeder. Other standouts in the collection include Mishima Death Cult and Lightning Capital.

Definitely a good one.
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