I had been debating about finishing The Ecstasy of Agony by James “Wrath” White after the fifth or so story/chapter. I was reading it online and that was answered for me when my link expired. I have been working on it slowly for at least all of 2023 so far (if not started late 2022) so it did not surprise me I had timed out.
But the reason I was not too excited with it was that White’s book is a collection of horror works. I am not a horror person. I say that, yet keep picking them up. Thankfully, until The Ecstasy of Agony I was lucky enough to not have GORE but THRILLER with gore and/or a bit of intensity. However, this is intense and gorey. Especially one story. The entire story was torture porn. It was just gore and torture and sex and drugs and killing as violently as possible and more torture. The ending was clever, but still it did not redeem it. Of course, it did not help that I was reading it in the hospital while I was waiting for them to tell me what was wrong with my dad’s knee (other than that it was hot reddish-purple and swollen way too large).
But actually up to that point I was well, not enjoying things, but was moving along. I was taking my time to stop and process the read, cleaning my brain out for the unrelated next chapter. Maybe I missed a few points, or the “horror” aspect, but they did not feel gratuitous or icky like that last one. Things were thriller, even clever with a “careful what you wish for/sell your soul” theme to the first story. And another was about how humans will do almost anything to survive, while trying to “stay human” (probably failing miserably) in the process. The poem I was interpreting one way, though probably incorrectly, but so what? It was mine to interpret.
The publisher review does the book report aspect well: ten hard hitting new short stories and seven brutal epic poems exploring the darkest soul of humanity and the cruelty of life. It mentions erotica, but I think that’s up to you to define that term for yourself (or possibly future chapters would have fit my definition). I don’t plan on getting a final copy, but it’s out if you’re interested.