Exquisite Corpse (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about Poppy Z. Brite novel. For other uses, see Exquisite corpse (disambiguation).
Exquisite Corpse
Author Poppy Z. Brite
Country United States
Language English
Genre Horror novel
Publisher Touchstone
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 240 pp (Paperback edition)
ISBN 0-684-83627-0 (Paperback)
OCLC 38225918

Exquisite Corpse is the third horror novel by Poppy Z. Brite. The protagonist of the story is Andrew Compton, an English convicted homosexual serial killer, cannibal and necrophiliac.[1] Brite has described it as "a necrophilic, cannibalistic, serial killer love story that explores the seamy politics of victimhood and disease." [2]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel unfolds in alternating chapters from the points of view of the four main characters. Andrew Compton, a convicted serial killer (based on real life serial killer Dennis Nilsen), escapes his UK prison cell as a dead man in a self-induced cataleptic trance and rises again to build a new life. His journey takes him to New Orleans' French Quarter—to the decadent bars and frivolous boys that haunt the luscious dark corners of a town brought up on Voodoo and the dark arts.

Anticipating a willing victim, he finds an equal in Jay Byrne, a decadent artist (based on real life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer), who shares the same dangerous desires—torture, murder and cannibalism. They fixate on Tran, a young, gay Vietnamese boy estranged from his family, as their perfect victim. As Tran's long-standing attraction to Jay threatens to lead him straight to his demise, Tran's former lover, Lucas Ransom (pirate talk radio personality "Lush Rimbaud"), seeks to find and reunite with him. The four collide in a horrific climax.

The book's title may partly derive from the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse.

Publication Difficulties[edit]

In 1991 Brite had signed a contract to write three novels for Delacorte Books. The first two were Lost Souls (Poppy Z. Brite novel) and Drawing Blood, with Exquisite Corpse being the third. In early 1995 Brite turned in the finished manuscript of Equisite Corpse and was informed that Delacorte would be unable to publish the novel due to its 'extreme' content. Brite relates that "I never received an explanation from anyone at Delacorte, but in the words of my literary agent, the VP 'had to change her underwear after reading it.'" Soon afterwards Brite received word that Penguin, then the author's current UK publisher, was declining to publish the novel as well. The work then bounced from publisher to publisher on two continents, receiving the same comments everywhere it went: 'It's your best writing ever, but it's too nihilistic, too extreme, a bloodbath without justification'.' [3] Eventually the book was purchased by Simon & Schuster in the USA and Orion in the UK.


  1. ^ Classic Serial Killer novel - Exquisite Corpse
  2. ^ Poppy Z. Brite, "The Poetry of Violence" in Karl French (ed) Screen Violence, London: Bloomsbury, 1996, 62-70.
  3. ^ Poppy Z. Brite, "The Poetry of Violence" in Karl French, ed, Screen Violence, London: Bloomsbury, 1986, 62-70.