A PRETTY MOUTH by Molly Tanzer, Lazy Fascist Press p/b Â£7.77, ebook Â£4.43, http://lazyfascistpress.com
Reviewed by Glen Mehn
“A Pretty Mouth” is a strong debut from Molly Tanzer, an emerging weird author. The four short stories and one novella paint an incomplete history of the Calipash family, each story delving a little bit further back into history, and delving a bit more into the Weird.
Two things make this connected collection stand out: first, the styles. Tanzer presents five stories written in five clearly distinct styles.
The first, â€œA Spotted Trouble at Dolor-on-the Downsâ€, is a Wodehouse-inspired tale with Lovecraftian horror dumped in. It’s probably one of, if not the, most fun stories in the piece. Bertie Wooster appears and loans Jeeves to the current Calipash heir, with a strange result. Tanzer’s mashes up Wodehouse with gothic horror, wandering without effort in and out of period style. Not everything rings correct â€“ this is an homage to each style, as we’ll come to see.
The second story, “The Hour of the Tortoise”, is a gothic tale of a young lady returning home. This is a young, independent woman, who just happens to write erotica, and has an apparent taste for the lurid herself, as one will come to see. We find out a bit of the history behind the first story, but have more questions that can only be answered in the third.
“The Infernal Hsitory of the Ivybridge Twins” takes place another generation earlier, and is another rather ribald tale â€“ there is sex a-plenty in this history, often disturbing.
The eponymous novella which makes up the fourth story is probably the most idiosyncratic â€“ it falls out of the 17th century in which it is set in language and style quite a lot, but it still delivers.
The final story, “Damnatio Memoriae”, is a Roman story with the most minimal tinge of the supernatural.
These are fantasy stories, so I’m not bothered â€“ though sometimes jarred â€“ by anachronistic language and descriptions. The collection is just plain fun. It appears to have been oft-overlooked, but it’s worth seeking out and finding this infernal history.