Book review: Cartoons in the Suicide Forest – Leza Cantoral

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Leza Cantoral’s debut collection of bizarre, erotic, weird fiction is as charming as it is filthy. Cantoral weaves together fairy tales and Disney stories, transforming them into sex-filled fantasies dripping with bodily fluids. Her writing both excites and feels fresh, virgin almost. It’s playful without being too sugar-coated and I really enjoyed this little foray into her twisted mind.

‘Cartoons in the Suicide Forest’ features a number of stories that vary in length. From flash pieces to more in-depth tales. I found the longer stories to be the more immersive and enjoyable (in a kinky sort of way). That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the shorter ones, too. The shorter stories are a little like the foreplay whereas the longer pieces are deeper examinations of sexuality, drugs and popular culture. One of the standouts for me personally was the final piece called Planet Mermaid. It’s a retelling of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, complete with wicked sea witch, Mermen, Land Walkers and a young mermaids quest to fit in. Of course, in the original Disney version, Ariel becomes mute when she is given legs and has to woo the handsome prince. Cantoral’s version is very similar, but instead she sprinkles a little smut and the bizarre onto this cautionary tale. Elsewhere, ‘Beast’ is a short narrative take on ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – it’s short and sweet and I liked it a lot. The opening tale is the title story. A dreamy read that sets the tone for what is to follow. It features everything that is good about her writing and her ideas.

There is a lot to like and admire from the writing of Leza Cantoral. She seems to have a very casual narrative voice, which is easy to read, flows very smoothly and pushes all of the right buttons. When writing erotic stories, it’s easy for writers to come across as insincere, as if they are simply including these sexual elements just to get a reaction. Cantoral doesn’t do this. Her stories are often X-rated but don’t feel forced. They are quirky and original. A real find.

‘Cartoons in the Suicide Forest’ is a great collection. I can imagine Leza writing an excellent coming-of-age novel further down the track as it seems from this collection that she has a wealth of life experience and the writing prowess to go with it. For now, we should simply embrace the weird, highly sexed world that Leza Cantoral has created. To infinity and beyond…

4/5 stars

Pick up a copy from here.

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