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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In the Moonlight with Leland Pitts-Gonzalez, Author of The Blood Poetry

The Blood Poetry: Horror and Metaphor

By Leland Pitts-Gonzalez

Why write a literary horror novel anyway?  I’m not only interested in spinning a scary, titillating yarn.  Yes, my novel is inhabited by characters like the protagonist, Epstein’s mother, Olivia, who’s undead and buys blood from a heroin addict; the conjoined-twin bloodsuckers who date back to the Civil War and head an evangelical church after abandoning their own murderous past; and Professor Applebaum—biological anthropologist, bloodsucker, and Olivia’s boyfriend during Epstein’s childhood—who is the source of Epstein’s unraveling.  My intent was to use many of these characters, monsters, and metaphors which we’ve grown accustomed to scaring us up to a point, as vehiclesinto the fracturing universe of our main character who—unlike those others—isn’t yet “a monster.”   The Blood Poetry—told from the first person point-of-view—is an immersion into the felt-experience of a man on the brink.

As Epstein transforms during the course of the book, perhaps even more unbearable to him is his complicity in the crimesperpetrated by his mother’s boyfriend.  Applebaum—part step-father and vampire—forced Epstein as a boy to lure unsuspecting victims to their home.  This was the culmination of a series of crimes that Applebaum perpetrated against Epstein’s mother and his boyhood friends.  As an adult, he reflects back on that he, yes, was spared, but why?  His mental and moral implosion is brought on not so much by the horror of “bearing witness”—but from hisrealization that he, too, was culpable and guilty.  How degrading it is for him, then, to be confronted with his phantom-ghoul of a momevery day since she lives in the bedroom upstairs in his house—just out of conscious reach, but whose footsteps and flapping-about demark the beginning of a horror-story all his own: the disappearance of his wife, Abby, who has already vanished at the outset of the book; and of course, Sylvia, his rambunctious, and keenly-alive teenager who becomes the axis around which his lunacy tilts.  As all the bloodletting from his past and present converge, he fixates on Sylvia in a manner only newly-fanged fathers can.  He fixates with unwanted eyes.  Sylvia can infer well enough that he—although not one of them “actual imbibers”—has desires for a more terrifying kind of blood: not as nutrients for those undead folk, but nutrients for the “ultra-violence” within, and as the only metaphor for “family, clan, and lineage.”As Epstein learned, Sylvia will know all too well that blood is the source, nutrients, and symbol of all of those things which tritely give us life, but are rabidly determined to serve us simply a mouthful of hell and heritage.

About the Author:

Leland studied creative writing and ethnic studies at San Francisco State University where he discovered the enormous possibilities of poetic language, experimentation, and critical theory. He eventually earned an MFA in Writing from Columbia University on a merit fellowship.  He has published fiction in Open City, Fence, Dark Sky Magazine, Drunken Boat, and Monkey Bicycle, among other literary journals.  He is also the Project Director for an upcoming literary series of happenings, Phantasmagoria, for which he received fiscal sponsorship from The New York Foundation for the Arts.  He lives in Brooklyn, NY.  This is his first novel.

Visit Leland on the web at
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About the Book:

The Blood Poetry is a dark and otherworldly literary novel about a clan of grotesques. Epstein, the protagonist, who delivers his innermost rants in a berserk vernacular all his own; Abby, Epstein’s wife, whose disappearance sparks our protagonist’s descent into guilt and vice; Olivia, Epstein’s mother, who is undead and tames her ruthlessness by joining a Pentecostal church; Astor and Fester, conjoined twins who date back to the Civil War and elders of the Pentecostal church who profess their own brand of redemption to Epstein; Professor Applebaum, Olivia’s boyfriend during Epstein’s childhood, who forced Epstein to participate in a series of horrifying acts; and our once rambunctious Sylvia, Epstein’s daughter who returns to life after dying, only to become repulsed by the sound of her grandmother’s thoughts and all human touch, but whose yearning for her father to restore her to health is Epstein’s best chance at reclaiming his own humanity.

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