Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Terra Insanus is a collection of four short stories by Edward Lee. These include the previously published: “The Stick Woman,” “Shit-House,” and “The Ushers,” as well as the new exclusive: “The Sea-Slop Thing.” All of the tales carry Lee’s signature mix of grotesque sexual imagery and over-the-top violence.
“The Stick Girl” follows a woman who has had her hands and feet removed. Held hostage, she has been forced to clean a madman’s anus with her tongue for six years. However, when her captor passes away unexpectantly from a heart attack, things are going to go from bad to worse.
“Shit-House” is an indictment our modern world. As gross as Edward Lee’s prose are, he has barely scratched the surface of the evil and disgusting things humans are capable of. These deeds are on full display in “Shit-House” leading to the question of whether this world is even worth saving.
“The Ushers” is a semi-autobiographical piece which, while written in the disgusting manner fans expect, still manages to shock with an almost traditional ghost story ending. The story is smartly written and includes both psychological and visceral horror.” The Ushers” almost takes on a tone reminiscent of the movie “Jacob’s Ladder.” Have you ever felt that you are being ushered along in life to fulfill a fate already written?
“The Sea-Slop Thing” is Lovecraftian horror infused with large quantities of sexual content. After June loses her job at the deli for having sex with the sausage, she falls victim to a deranged sea captain. He plans to feed June to this amorphous slime thing from the sea that poops gold bars. However, neither the captain nor the sea-slop thing planned for June’s secret weapon: sex.
Of the four tales, “The Stick Girl” is the most gruesome; “The Ushers” is the most well-written; and “The Sea-Slop Thing” is the most in keeping with Lee’s over-the-top sex and violence style. It isn’t Shakespeare. This is Edward Lee. There are some morals and social commentary, but you primarily read this stuff to be offended and have a good laugh. Lee delivers on both accounts.