UnCommon Bodies by Michael Harris Cohen

Genres: Adult, Anthology
Publisher: Fighting Monkey Press
Publication Date: November 24th 2015

1 OUT OF 5 STARS

Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“You’ll stare or maybe you won’t be able to look that long. Some can’t.”

A collection of bizarre stories about beauty, disfigurement, monsters and men.

This anthology suffered largely because it was not well curated. Instead of each author dealing with different sort of bodies we have several stories of amputation, two stories involving mermaids, two involving freaks rising up against ringmaster, two involving men using kinky gay sex to fill the void left by their amputations. Not to mention three cyborg stories, two of which use the exact same pop-culture reference. The themes smash together in dissonance from horror, to mystery, to humour and finally to three straight up porn stories.

A few of the stories were part of larger works, which would have been fine if they felt like full stories on their own. Instead they felt like small hacked off pieces and left the reader with no satisfying conclusion.

The anthology also teeters between fetishizing and demonizing the different bodies. We are promised mermaids and monsters in the blurb. What it doesn’t mention is amputees (one evil, two kinky) and much to my disappointment, a transwoman. The inclusion of the transwoman, amputees and a woman disfigured by her mother’s abuse in this anthology were in poor taste. Touting “a modern freakshow” and presenting these stories is more than a touch offensive.

There were stories that stuck out as being interesting Skin by Brent Meske, From the Inside by Daniel Arthur Smith and Scars: First Session by Jordanne Fuller. They were well-written, unique premises and either touching or just creepy enough. Rated on their own they would all hit the three-star mark but they were just not enough to drag up the rating of this book.

Read this if you’re a fan of: Make Something Up

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