Fanged Dandelion by Eric LaRocca

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The foreword by Sara Tantlinger echoes my thoughts on what a sublime talent LaRocca is, his prose is mesmeric, his poetic turns of phrase showcase his brilliance as a storyteller and in my opinion further cement Eric LaRocca as one of the most exciting voices in indie publishing.

Introduction – Eric LaRocca takes time to explain the first delicate buds of where this collection came from, it’s heartfelt and honest – it’s raw and as I always expect from LaRocca’s work he leaves his heart open and vulnerable on the page. We get a glimpse at LaRocca’s fears and anxieties in the lead up to this collection and also those that have plagued his life up to this point – it’s a beautifully honest and brave thing to read and sets the tone perfectly for what is about to unfold within the pages of ‘Fanged Dandelion’.

With many of these poems being so short and so sharp they cut like a scalpel I’ll not be diving into my usual story (or poem) by story (poem) review, instead I’ll pick a couple of my favourites but with an assortment so delicious it’s a tall order – because if I could I’d talk about them all, I’d scream about them until my throat bled and I’d choke on my own coppery blood… but I won’t, because then you wouldn’t hear what I have to say!

Lovesick Arms – this is a poem that leans heavily on what is discussed in the introduction from LaRocca and to see him leave his heart bleeding on the page, all the anxieties and challenging thoughts he’s said he suffered, this story really hits home like an axe to the clavicle… deeply moving, honest and raw!

Things Can’t Get Much Worse – this is a haunting tale, ones that really speaks of the despair someone is feeling, the desires of the heart and mind wanting to have things changed and wanting to be the one that can change their circumstance, however that may look to them and whatever beast they might need to become to achieve this.

A Mother Is A Kind Of God – is beautiful, everything about this story is stunning, the concept, the way LaRocca sets the tone, the imagination and the sheer writing craft is something that takes your breath away – truly haunting and masterful storytelling.

Thimble – there is so much to admire here, I may have read too much into it but this poem is a response to the catholic church, it challenges the church’s outdated practices, how it judges and sends people out into the dark because of who they chose to love, but also makes a mockery of itself and it’s ideals with regards to its double standards and to quote LaRocca ‘atrocities done to innocent children temporary hosts for their pleasure’ – a hard hitting piece that just blew me away.

So that’s it, a stunning read – as you know I don’t read poetry, for some reason I cant get on with it – but poetry written by LaRocca is something of a tonic, something that needs to be consumed and I’m thrilled I have, I may try more poetry now, because I have tasted and seen that it is good, so damn good!

Also a shout out here to the stunning internal illustrations from Dave Dick, they don’t accompany each story, but there are enough to make this a real treat for the eyes – each one captures something beautifully horrific within LaRocca’s words and showcases the darkly disturbing undercurrents that await the reader!

Fanged Dandelion is published by Demain Publishing and is available here.

Eric LaRocca

Eric LaRocca holds an MFA in Writing for Film and Television from Emerson College. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies published in the US and abroad such as, Stiff Things and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Volume 2. He is also the author of several plays which have been developed and produced at theaters across the country including, Gadfly Theater Productions, Hartford Stage, La Petite Morgue, and Love Creek Productions. He currently resides in Cambridge, MA. Follow him on Twitter @ejlarocca.

Read our review of Starving Ghosts in Every Thread here.

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