You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood by Eric Larocca [Book Review]
Buddy read and review!
This ghoulie foursome came together this past week to read, You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood by one of our favorite authors, Eric LaRocca. LaRocca is known for their imaginative prose with a tint of lavender and interesting plotlines that beg to be analyzed deeper than their face value. These four put on blinders and dove into the dark inky pool of Black.
Side Note: Roxie Voorhees and Grace R. Reynolds are currently preparing a deeper analysis of the text where they explore themes and symbolism embedded in the rich text of this novella.
I was introduced to LaRocca’s work in late summer 2020 with Starving Ghosts in Every Thread. They hooked me for life. Now, I scurry after them like a starved tramp searching for my next scrap of nourishment. So, when Eric pulled a Beyoncé and dropped a hushed, self-published, secret novella (plus 50% of proceeds are donated to Trans Lifeline), I purchased it within seconds. Beyoncé’s album went on to top the charts. Just saying.
Before starting You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood, I purposely didn’t read any reviews or even the back of the book. I wanted to go in completely blind with this one. This, this was not what I was expecting and I love that. Many of you don’t know that I am The Book Slayer, and this moniker came to be because I have a voracious appetite for reading—200-350 books a year. About 80% of my yearly reads are categorized as horror. Needless to say, nothing surprises me anymore.
“Like our brains are made of flypaper and our thoughts are little insects to be captured, caught, and killed.”
You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood is a mixture of three formats: transcripted logs dictating conversations between Martyr Black, our MC, and his lover, Ambrose; poetry written by Black about the things he does; and chapters of a novella he wrote “before”.
First impressions: This is not a story to be taken for face value. It is rich in symbolism and satire. There are a lot of themes going on here that deserve to be discussed in depth. LaRocca’s work requires the effort of the reader to bring the nuances necessary for a balanced palate. This makes the reader part of the experience. In short, you’re going to get out what you put in.
For those having difficulty understanding why LaRocca’s place in the horror community is being celebrated I ask that you look for what you don’t see. Read between the lines and between the stanzas, and unlock the creative side of your brain while you turn pages. There is more here than ink on paper.
Friend and writing colleague, Grace R. Reynolds, and I will be diving deep into the analysis of this text. Here are some points you can expect us to discuss:
- Writing as Martyr Black
- The POVs subliminal message
- Connections to Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
- What makes horror, horror?
- Parallels of relationships and more
“Storytelling is an art form, and it belongs to no one.”
I am unabashedly a fan of LaRocca’s writing. Ever since I have read their chapbook, ‘Fanged Dandelion,’ I have willingly flown into their web of beautiful and terrifying words for consumption. So, when I saw that LaRocca released ‘You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood’ as a surprise, I dropped what I was doing like so many others to order myself a copy.
The book’s main storyline is about the disappearance of Martyr Black and his partner, Ambrose Thorne, told through the framing devices of Martyr Black’s published and unpublished works:
His novella ‘You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood.’
A series of prose and poetry.
Audio recordings of conversations between him and Ambrose.
That’s a lot of layers for readers to sift through and understand!
I am keeping my thoughts on this book short for the sake of this review, but let me just say this for prospective readers: release any expectations of what you think this book is or ought to be. This book is both a showcase of LaRocca’s creative range in the art of writing as much as it is a manifesto that presents philosophical arguments of what writing as a craft is and what horror as a genre is. LaRocca has created an environment for readers to assess the text and the questions it presents to come to their own conclusions to engage in an academic and philosophical discussion with their peers, which is beautiful.
I loved this book; I can’t stop thinking about it. I will leave one final thought for readers to consider after reading the book: who is editor Trent Pilcher, and why was he not killed by Martyr Black and Ambrose Thorne?
Eric LaRocca is an auto buy author, so when he announced their surprise book for charity, I instantly ordered You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood (YLALOB). At first, it looked like a fun companion novella to Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke (THGWSWLS).
But it’s so much more than that.
YLALOB really shows LaRocca’s talent as a writer. It’s split into multiple parts, starting out with a letter from the editor of the book, Trent Pilcher. He introduces us to Martyr Black and Ambrose Thorne. Then, the book flip flops between a novella written by Black, poems written by Black, and recorded phone conversations between Black and Thorne. Through these, we learn a little bit more about this enigmatic couple.
Being able to flip into separate and distinct voices makes LaRocca’s talent shine. Martyr Black’s novella YLALOB is not their typical style. It is Black’s style. The novella within the book is just as intriguing, though. A story about a family going through grief, faced with, on the surface, an evil video game.
As always, what may seem a simple story has layers and layers of questions and possibilities. Who is Trent Pilcher, and why did he take the time to put all of this evidence together? Who were Black and Thorne, really? My friends and I talked about these questions, at length, and brought up many different terrifying possibilities. But yet the question remains… Why?
CW: gore, body horror, death & grief, terminal illness
A novella within a novella might not be a new concept, but Eric LaRocca still manages to bring something fresh to the table with You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood. Part of this story follows Martyr Black and Ambrose, as they mostly discuss various aspects of their lives and relationship (of course, in a LaRocca way). The other part is a novella actually published under Martyr’s name and is a completely different story. But somehow in the end they still come together nicely, and with a twist, I didn’t expect.
I really loved the novella part, and I wish it would’ve been fleshed out more. I’m a huge gamer, and this story that LaRocca cooked up about his horror game also titled “You’ve Lost a lot of Blood” was spellbinding. It was such a neat concept, and I wanted a more indepth look into the mechanics around this world. I understand it was just part of LaRocca’s story, but I did enjoy it more than the Martyr/Ambrose part of the novella, even though they were dependent on each other.
Overall, a solid entry to the world of LaRocca’s publications, and definitely makes me want to read what he comes up with next!
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