Drenched: Stories of Love and Other Deliriums is a collection of interconnected short stories. Two lovers accidentally create a love potion while making a batch of Jell-O. An apartment is filled with water as an act of gravity-defying devotion to an acrobat. At turns blissful, absurd, sexy, and devastating, Marisa Matarazzo’s stories don’t just push the boundaries of love—they show how very boundless it is. These interconnected shorts take love to a new level—another world, where a sex fever can sweep a town and where sex acts are performed tied to the raised mast of a sailboat. Falling into love, swimming, and drowning in it, the characters often exist in places where land and water collide and morph. A girl without hands is rescued from the sea by an oil-rig worker. A boy transplants a fish into the body of a menacing neighbor. A woman on the rebound has an unexpected encounter with an otherworldly water engineer. Fusing magical realism and fantasy with the heart of the here and now, Matarazzo has established a singular style. As she shifts effortlessly among startling plotlines and peculiar characters, she celebrates the fluid sorcery of love—in its ardor, its ugliness, all of its uncanny and magnificent manifestations, proclaiming love the most wondrous magic of all.
From Publishers Weekly
Matarazzo's bold and unusual debut, a collection of interrelated short stories, revolves around characters who all experience heat. In the grotesque Hotmouths, a young girl without hands is saved from drowning by a buoy repairman whose mouth blisters her lips when they kiss. In Fisty Pinions, a girl who has glass ashtrays for breasts falls for a woman who has loved her from afar since high school. In the haunting Freshet, a teenage baby- sitter becomes pregnant, igniting a trend among her fellow babysitters. The town parents, now left babysitterless, set into motion a shocking and devastating scheme to regain their freedom. Cataplasms tells the story of siblings sent to live with their father after the young boy cuts open his neighbor and replaces his liver with a fish. Matarazzo has an admirable ability to surprise, and although at times she seems to be trying too hard to provoke (young lovers lips pop and sputter and sting; two children create an underwater sex rig), the stories ring true. Each scene is rendered so poetically, in a strange combination of tenderness and aggression, that it is difficult to turn away.
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Matarazzo’s debut of fantastic linked tales explores love’s provocation, ecstasy, and whimsy. In “Hotmouths” a high-schooler with no hands falls in love with Rose Quartz, a buoy repairperson, when he rescues her from the ocean. Their relationship is complicated by her mother’s strict rules for dating and Rose’s teeth, which become scorching hot when the two are intimate. In “Cataplasms” a traumatized young boy transplants a liver fish in the body of his predatory neighbor. When the boy’s actions are uncovered, he and his sister are sent away to an underwater Plexiglas pod in the middle of the ocean. A series of tales follows one eccentric character and her passionate relationships with an acrobat and then a mask maker. When one particular session of lovemaking results in a potent batch of Jell-O–based love potion, she decides to sell the product, though the end result does not go according to plan. Otherworldly, sometimes unwieldy, abstractions mix with physical elements, most notably water, in Matarazzo’s bold narratives, which make for a distinctive collection. --Leah Strauss
THE BARNES AND NOBLE REVIEW
The cover to Marisa Matarazzo's winning first book, the story collection Drenched, will invariably and inevitably remind any reader over a certain age of the cover to Nirvana's Nevermind album: naked swimmer in an aquatic wilderness. Therein lies a clue to Matarazzo's generational sensibilities: not pure ham-handed grunge exactly, for her beautiful prose is immaculately assembled and cleverly engineered for density of weird effect. But certainly she shares a Cobain-style affinity for interesting losers, the oppressed of the world. When you add in her deadpan yet outrageous surrealism, the results, to continue the musical analogy, resemble the Flaming Lips or Ween. From a more literary angle, think Kelly Link or George Saunders, Matthew Derby or Haruki Murakami. Bolstered by subtle interconnections of incidents and persons, these stories limn a weird world in which offshore oil rigs manufacture love potions ("Sunder") and a sensitive teen expresses her melancholy by wearing a bra made of glass ashtrays ("Fisty Pinions"). In Matarazzo's realm of Rimbaudian deranged senses, we navigate the funhouse of life by bumping blindly into sharp corners, then Braille-reading our wounds.