Mouth

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Pub Date Jun 11 2024 | Archive Date Jun 04 2024

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Description

"Sometimes surreal, sometimes horrifying, always startling . . . Mouth introduces readers to Puloma Ghosh's unmatched ability to probe the visceral depths of female pain, desire, and grief." —Alice Martin, Shelf Awareness

"A unique set of stories that show the promise of a bold new voice." —Kirkus Reviews

"Ghosh has offered us a masterclass in surrealist short fiction, bound to haunt its readers long after they’ve put down the book." —Olivia Gatwood, author of Whoever You Are, Honey

"Mouth is a work that will leave you forever changed." —Megan Kamalei Kakimoto, author of Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare

BESTIARY MEETS THE DANGERS OF SMOKING IN BED IN THIS COLLECTION OF 11 EERIE, UNCANNY, AND SURREAL SHORT STORIES


In this debut collection, Puloma Ghosh spins tales of creatures and gore to explore grief, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. Embracing the bizarre and absurd, Mouth stretches reality to reach for truth.

“Desiccation" follows a teen figure skater with necrophiliac fantasies who is convinced the other Indian girl at the rink is a vampire. When a woman returns to Kolkata in “The Fig Tree,” she can’t tell if she is haunted by her dead mother or a shakchunni — or both. “Nip” bottles up the consuming and addictive nature of infatuation, while “Natalya” is a hair-raising autopsy of an ex-lover. In “Persimmons,” a girl comes to terms with her own community sacrifice.

Full of fangs and talons, Mouth lays bare the otherwise awkward and unmentionable with a singular sharpness. Through surreal and captivating prose, Puloma Ghosh delves into otherworldly spaces to reimagine ordinary struggles of isolation, longing, and the aching desires of our flesh.
"Sometimes surreal, sometimes horrifying, always startling . . . Mouth introduces readers to Puloma Ghosh's unmatched ability to probe the visceral depths of female pain, desire, and grief." —Alice...

Marketing Plan

• Cover reveal on Astra House social media • National media campaign including print, radio, podcasts, and online coverage • Pitch for feature stories and profiles, as well as original pieces by the author • Select local author events and festivals • Target outreach to publications and reviewers focused on debuts, literary fiction, genre and speculative fiction, immigrant and first-generation American narratives, and surrealism • Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Pride Month push • Influencer outreach in social media channels with early ARC giveaways

• Cover reveal on Astra House social media • National media campaign including print, radio, podcasts, and online coverage • Pitch for feature stories and profiles, as well as original pieces by...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781662602474
PRICE $26.00 (USD)
PAGES 240

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Average rating from 80 members


Featured Reviews

"Bestiary meets The Dangers of Smoking in Bed." Say no more. I'm sold!

This is a great collection of short stories. The prose is beautiful and with each sentence I never knew what was coming next. And I love that. I also love the titles of all these stories.

I'd definitely recommend this collection to fans of Ottessa Moshfegh or Hiromi Kawakami, because the stories and writing reminded me of them at times. I've never read this author before but now I'll read literally anything she writes.

Here are my reviews for each story and a rating out of 10.

Desiccation 9/10
I liked the pacing of this story, and how all the different elements were balanced. The world building felt unobtrusive. I liked the backdrop of ice skating competitions. I love how the story is subtle even though it's very visceral and surreal.

The Fig Tree 5/10
I think I might have read this at the wrong time. I was a bit unfocused and maybe thats why I was a bit bored at parts of this story. I liked the descriptions of the environment and themes of grief.

Leaving Things 10/10
WOW! Wolf short stories are a bit of a cliche, but this story is very unique and well done. I loved the opening scene. The story has a good balance of internal and external conflict/stakes. Usually I prefer shorter stories but this was an exception. This was excellent.

K 8/10
I found the main character to be very unhinged but in a good way, in an interesting way. It could have been a bit shorter I think.

In the Winter 10/10
This was really good. I love a short and sweet story that is very sure of itself. It's the kind of story you can read many times and glean more from it with each read.

Anomaly 9/10
There's a lot to take in at the beginning of this story, and I was a bit overwhelmed, but it pays off nicely. Dystopian-ish short stories aren't usually my favourite but I'm so impressed by the world the author created here. She's very talented.

Lemon Boy 9/10
The character voice is really strong. I loved the party setting. This was just really interesting and unique.

Supergiant 8/10
I loved the second half of this story a lot more than the first half. The author is really good at creating worlds. It's not easy for short stories.

Nip 9/10
Again, I love a brief story. This was wacky in the best way possible.

Natalya 10/10
WOW! This was crazy good. Like it's leagues above all the other stories in this collection so far and that's saying something because they've all been amazing.
This story is so special. It's one of those stories that shows just how awesome short fiction can be, and pushes it's limits and creates something amazing. The prose really shines in this story. It was noticeably much stronger than in some of the other stories. There's a lot of flashbacks, an unconventional amount, but it worked so well and felt natural, and it wasn't jarring at all. The author pulled it off so well. This is officially an all time favourite short story.

Persimmons 7/10
This is a good story. For some reason I just struggled to want to read it. There are some super cool paragraphs and imagery in here. I liked the ending.

A NetGalley ARC review

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If I could give this book 100 stars, I would. I had a fantastic time with these weird, horrifying short stories, that feature (sometimes) far too relatable characters dealing with loneliness and isolation. The prose was stunning and had me highlighting like crazy. I look forward to anything Puloma Ghosh writes in the future and will absolutely be picking up a hard cover to annotate when it releases . I don't even have the words for a long review because I have no criticism, this was perfect.

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Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC. This book was such a fun collection of weird and horrifying stories that were so entertaining. Not one was dull and the characters were all so fleshed out and crafted extremely well. The prose was beautiful and precise. A great collection of short stories, 5/5 stars.

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4.25 stars

Okay. I loved this. I truly did. Each story could have been longer to be honest and I would have eaten it up lol

Desiccation - 4/5 - what an opening!

The Fig Tree - 2/5 didnt love this one as thst opener but well written

Leaving Things - 5/5?????? Looooool I loved this. Damn I'd honestly read a full story of it.
K - 4/5?? Or 3.75?? I wonna know more. I wonn know wtf went on
In the Winter - same as above but maybe 4 because despite it being the shortest so far, I wonna know what the hell he was and what happened
Anomaly - 3/5 all of these could be an episode of Black Mirror but this one specifically felt like an episode.
Lemon Boy - same as above with the Black Mirror feeling 3.25 /5
Supergiant - 2/5???
Nip - this was a trip lol I reread it twice lol maybe 3.75??
Natalya - not my fave 2/5
Persimmons - 2.25/5

Overall the writing I adored. I loved how each story had something shocking, sad, disturbing, you name it, I'm so so so happy to have went for this to review. Wow.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC to review

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What a spectacular debut... Puloma Ghosh's Mouth is a collection of eleven genre-defying, poignant stories each connected by literal and metaphorical references to mouths. Although none of the stories take place in the world we know (there's always a surreal twist), each piece feels resoundingly familiar. Ghosh is able to go for the jugular, assessing the affect of the times with frightening clarity. Every story touches on what it means to experience loss, alienation, and loneliness—feelings that I know many of us can relate to, especially after the global pandemic.

In one story, a girl grapples with her place in the world after the government commandeers every man over the age of eighteen while she falls for a fellow figure skater with an appetite for rats. In another, a yellow-haired boy recounts the death of his girlfriend, her presence at a party, and the curious appearance of holes. In yet another, a woman decides to remain in a city on the brink of collapse as it becomes overrun by wolves.

Ghosh's stories are engaging, sapphic, creative, bizarre, and (at times) darkly humorous. The author's literary prowess is clear. All the stories compliment one another well and help illuminate aspects of one another. I read the collection in a single sitting. Reading these stories scratched an itch that I didn't know I had, I can't recommend it enough. Mark your calendars!

Thank you to Astra Publishing House and Netgalley for a chance to review the ARC!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CzaQUc4rTn-/?igshid=MXJsbGk4bG5xNWxwcw==

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"Mouth" is unlike anything I've read. As soon as I finished I wanted to reread it. All of the stories are grounded in reality but have supernatural/sci-fi elements. All of the stories had me asking myself "what the hell just happened?", but in the best way! The stories are bizarre, horrific, sometimes sad, and always beautiful. My favorite stories were "Desiccation", "Leaving Things", "K", "Anomaly", "Nip", and "Natalya".

I especially loved that many of the stories were queer. The stories are grounded so much in the queer experience and Ghosh beautifully and uniquely presented it in all its pain and all it's glory.

Do yourself and favor and give "Mouth" a chance. I admit that this book may not be for everyone but I think if you take the time to sit with each story you will find the beauty in all of them.

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Puloma Ghosh's "Mouth" comprises eleven stories that defy genres, each intricately linked by both literal and metaphorical references to mouths. While none of the narratives unfolds in our familiar reality—each bearing a surreal twist—there's an underlying resonance in every piece. Ghosh fearlessly delves into the essence of our times, offering a chillingly clear assessment of its impact. The stories, though otherworldly, explore universal themes of loss, alienation, and loneliness, emotions that many of us can deeply connect with, especially in the aftermath of the global pandemic.

Ghosh's stories are not only engaging but also richly creative, bizarre, and occasionally darkly humorous. The author's literary prowess shines through, and the stories complement each other seamlessly, shedding light on various facets. I devoured the entire collection in one sitting; reading these stories scratched an itch I didn't know I had and got me out of a really bad reading slump.

I wholeheartedly recommend it

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I love a weird book and this one definitely hit the mark. There was not a single one of the short stories that I didn't enjoy. Bizarre, spooky, funny, disturbing, a great debut collection, and a pleasure to read. Looking forward to what comes next from Puloma Ghosh!

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This collection is SO right up my street, I think I have found a new favourite/auto-buy author? And that based on her debut?? Incredible. And finding a short story collection in which I *love* and the rest which I really enjoyed too, is like finding a pair of shoes that fit your feet perfectly. Walking on air.

Mouth is a collection of stories in various styles: ontemporary fiction with some heavy subjects that are dealt with beautifully, mystery, horror, intrigue, suspense, dystopia, science fiction - and all of it in short stories that are so elegantly composed that you get lost in them within sentences, and resurface with a feeling of amazement and wonder. Also: (some of) this shit is so weiiiird. Exactly the kind of weird that floats my literary boat.

Favourite stories (in order of appearance)
🌳 The Fig Tree
Touches upon grief, displacement and otherness so beautifully. I was transported and found myself moved by her journey, and I lovewd the mythological aspects.

🐺 Leaving Things
Intriguing! Dystoping! Transformative! I am obsessed with this story and the wolfish element in it, that had a surprising turn of events.

🎓 K
I was terrified reading this story and I was happy it was done but also so impressed with how scared I got over a short story.

🕥 Anomaly
This reminded me a lot of Loki (which I am currently in the middle of season 2 of) so needless to say I loved the dystopian/timeline narrative and g(h)osh does she write well to create a whole new world and make it so incredibly easy to get into in a short story???

🍹 Lemon Boy
I was as obsessed with the whole holes thing as they were.

📓 Natalya
This was EXQUISITE. Favourite story of the collection.

If I haven't convinced you to pre-order this book and keep an eye out for this author, I urge you to do so.

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Weird queer short stories! We love weird queer short stories! And these short stories were very good, and very weird, and very queer.

MOUTH is a beautifully done debut collection from an author to watch, full of stories which danced between literary fiction, speculative fiction, and horror with grace and style. I didn’t connect with every story, but I found a lot to appreciate even in the ones which didn’t make my “favorites” list. Ghosh's writing is beautiful; the stories are inventive and gorgeously crafted, the characters are compelling and layered, and every story had its own unique and extremely evocative atmosphere.

My personal top three stories: “Supergiant,” “Natalya,” and “The Fig Tree.” Highly recommended, and Ghosh is most definitely an author to watch.

Thank you so much to Astra House and Netgalley for the advance copy!

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I recently read Mouth by Puloma Ghosh and was completely blown away by the author's writing style. In her debut collection, Ghosh uses speculative fiction to push the boundaries of reality and explore complex themes such as grief, intimacy, sexuality, and bodily autonomy.

One of the things I loved most about this book is the way the author blends the bizarre and absurd with the truth. Each story in the collection is unique and captivating in its own way. For instance, in "Dessication," a teen figure skater with necrophiliac tendencies is convinced that the only other Indian girl at the rink is a vampire. In "The Fig Tree," a woman returns to Kolkata and is haunted by her deceased mother or a shakchunni, or both. While in "Persimmons," a girl comes to terms with her own community sacrifice.

The surrealism in Mouth is both intriguing and captivating. Ghosh's writing style is sharp, vivid, and wholly original. She blurs the lines between conventional reality and the otherworldly, giving fangs, talons, and singular sharpness to the otherwise ordinary, awkward, and unmentionable. The author's exploration of the everyday struggles of isolation, longing, and the aching desires of our flesh is both poignant and thought-provoking.

Overall, Mouth is an excellent debut collection that showcases Puloma Ghosh's unique voice and imaginative storytelling. The book is a must-read for fans of speculative fiction and those who appreciate writing that is both daring and original. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a surreal and thought-provoking read.

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Thank you NetGalley so much for the arc!!!

I went into this collection without really knowing what I'll encounter, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really liked the prose, the concept of the stories and not knowing what will come next. I liked the skillful way Puloma Ghosh used dark humor and body parts and fluids in her stories to reach the most inner emotions of the reader.

A pleasant surprise and I will be picking up more Ghosh in the future, can wait to see what will come next!

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Puloma Ghosh weaves several haunting tales in her first book, Mouth. Each story, whilst separate, is connected by the key theme - body horror - or more specifically - mouths. The stories range from speculative to bizarre, each provoking thoughtful questions, and cover topics such as vampirism, existentialism, self and other.

My favourite of the bunch was the second, Leaving Things, and I wish there was more of it to read. Each of the stories could be made into a novel and I would read (and adore) every single one. Ghosh’s use of language was very refreshing and would love to read more from her in the future.

An incredible debut book.

3.75/5 stars

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Short stories have a tendency to leave me wanting more because they don’t feel fully fleshed out. Puloma Ghosh does not suffer from this problem, even the shortest of the stories included gives you a complete idea of the world it’s set in. The prose is beautiful, and leave you feeling intrigued. You want for more, not because the writing was lacking but because the story is so interesting you don’t want to leave it yet.

The lowest I would rate any of the eleven stories would be an 8/10… however most are 9s or 10s.

My favorite stores are Desiccation, The Fig Tree, & Leaving Things.

Desiccation is set in a dystopian world, where there is an unseen war and government whisking everyone away… but also a girl who may just be a vampire.

The Fig Tree follows our lead going back to her homeland after her mother dies, feeling disconnected from her family but confronting a spirit at her old home.

Leaving Things is wild ride from start to finish. Wolves are dragging off the women of her small town, and yet when our lead finds a dying pregnant wolf she attempts to save her. The wolf dies but cuts at the belly to save the baby, only to remove a human baby. She decides to raise him.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I went into this not knowing what to expect, and I was surprised! I actually really enjoyed this. The stories in this range from existentialism, to stories covering the topic of the self, a plethora of questions most times quite bizarre in nature, and even vampirism. It was a very fascinating read I highly recommend!

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Listen, if you had told me I would be intrigued by a book full of short stories that all shared the theme pf consumption would make me feel absolutely insane, I would’ve believed you. I mean, you did read that, right? there is absolutely no way I could’ve escaped this book, even if I wanted to.


“Mouth” by Puloma Ghosh had me wrapped around its finger, with stories set in different worlds, none of them the same as ours. In one, we learn about a woman living in a town that it’s been killed by wolves. In another, a man shares the story of the death of his girlfriend, and the weird appearance of of holes in his life. All stories in this book are correlated to theme of being consumed and consume in return, and although they do not happen in our world and there is always something supernatural going on, it manages to connect with us through things that all of us humans go through: loneliness, finding our own place in the world, heartbreak and grieve.

There is no part of me that expected this to be THIS good. Not only was it fascinating, it was also a very fun and quick read. It made me anxious to see what Puloma has to offer us, and excited for what’s coming next from her. I can’t wait!

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

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I am blown away. This is an absolutely incredible collection of short stories. And it's a debut?! It is so well written and captivating. It is weird and unusual but in the best ways. I can't wait to read more from this author!! I'm so thrilled to have read this. Thank you, NetGalley, for the copy to review.

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An amazing short story collection! With human sacrifices, autopsies of ex lovers and humanoid creatures this collection ranged from creepy, to funny, to sad, to strange. Really impressive debut and I will definitely be checking out the authors future work as well.

My favorite short story collection I've read this year.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Astra House for the ARC

Mouth - story individual rankings
Desiccation
- hot ! five stars

The fig tree
- fun ghosts, slow pace. my Engl profs would love teaching this one, and I think I’d like it more in discussion

Leaving things
- Marie de France would be proud with how the Bisclavret tradition has become
- Also Freud
- My favie so far

K
- “be careful with words that aren’t yours”
- ending was yummy, the narrator was kind of flat and sour

In the winter
-

Anomaly
- confusing, “romantic?,” can absolutely see this happening.

Lemon boy
- Good story,, weird ending? Could’ve been more conclusive imo

Supergiant
- sexual, but in a clinical way. It’s easy to find meaning in a love curated for the shell of your old self

Nip
- I’m not so sure abt this one. A little too abstract, but beautiful nonetheless

Natalya
- Obsessed with this form of an autopsy report amongst lovers

Persimmons
- EAT

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC to review!
All the stories were deliciously eloquent and there was a substantial amount of twists through that blew my mind. These stories are engaging and morbidly humorous and I simply couldn’t get enough. As i’m writing this review, each one of these stories are on the top of my mind and I don’t think I will be able to forget them.

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Short stories tend to be a harder sell for me - by the time I find myself invested it usually ends and leaves me questioning the point. The author does an incredible job here of fully fleshing out entire worlds within each of the stories, creating surreal backdrops for bizarre things to happen that still feel familiar and even make sense in twisted ways. I loved the common theme of devouring and being devoured in return present throughout each story, and they were all distinctive while remaining cohesive. This is a collection that I think will stay with me, and I’m excited to see what’s next from the author.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the ARC!

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This was such an amazing short story collection. The writing was beautiful and lyrical - I highlighted so many quotes that really resonated with me. Each story was unique but there were similar themes of love, grief and of course mouths. I loved how each story was set in a world similar yet different to our own. It was surreal, weird and sometimes sad but I absolutely loved reading it.

My favourite stories were:
The Fig Tree - A great display of grief. Tender but with a sliver of weirdness too.
Anomaly - Such an interesting concept and beautifully told.
Natayla - I loved how it was told as an autopsy report. Heartbreaking.

I cannot recommend this enough!

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What a debut! This short story collection is for all those who love the absurd and bizarre.
It's very impressive how eloquent each single story was and how atmospheric they were. I would definitely read something by the author again.

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A stunning short story collection! Fantastic world building and characterization, something that always feels impossible to pull off in a short story but Ghosh makes it look breezy. Every story felt new and fresh while the collection still felt like a whole piece.

My only complaint is that a few of the stories would have benefited from a longer length. Because these stories have are so rich in world building, the short lengths made the stories feel more like ideas. I think some of these stories could be incredible novellas or even full-length novels.

Very strong collection overall and I’m so excited to follow Ghosh’s career.

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What an INCREDIBLE short story collection and debut author! I don't give out such compliments lightly, but Puloma Ghosh to me is on the same level as Han Kang, Otessa Moshfegh and Lisa Taddeo when it comes to writing raw, poignant, relatable and hard-hitting stories.

I loved all of these stories, though my absolute favorites were the fig tree (it perfectly captures what it feels like to be grieving and to feel disconnected from your home town), leaving things (it reminded me of The Vegetarian by Han Kang and this is the biggest compliment I can give a book honestly), supergiant (how unique!), anomaly (one of the coolest stories I have ever read, blew me away, pure perfection), & Natalya.

I will gush about this book for the rest of the year OMG!

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hooooly moly, new fav alert!!!

I was utterly obsessed w/ this collection of stories. these stories were dark, weird, captivating, sapphic and surreal. I kept being so satisfied with each story, waiting to lose interest as the stories progressed, and I never did! I loved the topics explored, a lot of magical realism, grief, heartache, and dystopian themes. seriously devoured this and will devour anything else ghosh puts out into the world. a seriously incredible debut <3

thank you net galley and astra house! I will be thinking + talking about this one for a while.

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I included this wonderful collection in a round-up article on books I am looking forward to in 2024 at Michigan Quarterly Review. Here is what I wrote about it:

"Beautiful and unsettling, creepy and so deeply human: this collection delights with the unexpected, in the gorgeous prose, in the unbound imagination in the stories, and in the formal play. It presents us with ghosts, bottled infatuation, teen figure skaters with a necrophilic bend, and a story in the form of an autopsy report. All while interrogating lies, truth, and what is real in the vivid description that brings the world Ghosh creates alive."

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I don’t normally tend to gravitate towards short stories and I find myself asking questions and not getting into the story by the time it ends but these 11 short stories all felt very fleshed out and descriptive. These were all creepy, dystopian and captivating in the best way and I’ll definitely be reading future work by this author!

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Each story in Puloma Ghosh's debut, Mouth, gnawes its way to your brain with its sharp teeth of prose. Sucking you into its dark holes of worlds. Worlds that are a little too bizarre but modernly original. In Natalya, you intimately dissect her cadaver, her warmth once memorized. In Persimmons, you witness a martyr's welcoming embrace for the state of ruination. A dystopia awaits in Leaving Things, raising a boy wolf into a man. These are just three of the eleven mouth-watering stories of surrealism, queerness, grief, and sometimes ambiguous loss. Truly a feast of tangy endings.

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I loved this collection of strange, often horrifying stories. Each was immensely enjoyable, and I felt drawn into the worlds immediately. If I could think of a connecting thread it would perhaps be loneliness? Though in their strangeness alone there's a connection there. These were great, and I'll read anything Ghosh writes next.

Thanks to the publisher for the e-galley!

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THIS. OMG. THIS. I am forever grateful to Astra House Publishing for sending me an advanced copy of Mouth: Stories before it hits shelves on June 11, 2024. I know this is a ways away, but yall need to have like pre-ordered this one YESTERDAY or something because, HOLY FRIGGIN CRAP, that was amazing.

This is Puloma Ghosh's first novel, but you'd hardly be able to tell because the writing is so exquisitely scrumptious, leaving me craving more after every story. There were narratives of all shapes and sizes, covering most sapphic angles and breaching into monstrous territories. Overall, there were continuous themes of Body Horror, and I just ate these stories up. From sacrificial persimmon trees taking first-born daughters, to ghosts of roommates' past coming for a visit, and even vampiric figure skaters taking what they're owed... there's something here for everyone.

PRE-ORDER IT NOW!

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Love that we are getting more weird girl fiction. Every short story is odd, unsettling, and bizarre. Some involved beautiful exploration of vampires, sapphic love, and dystopian I love the way Puloma Ghosh writes about grief, sexuality, and mothering, I found myself re-reading some of the hauntingly beautiful stories in the novel like "Leaving Things" and "K". I can't wait to own the physical copy.
Thank you Netgalley and Astra house. It was a privilege to read this.

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Thank you Netgalley and Astra publishing for ARC in exchange of an honest review.



Mouth

11 Stories by Puloma Ghosh

- **Dessication**

> Ma always told me we had to accept the logic of the world we were given and learn to live in it. Maybe she would have let that logic swallow me like it swallowed my father, his warm hands, the buttons on his cuffs that were once larger than my fingernails.
>
> Our world shrank, but after the initial shock and a few transi-tional years, most people in our town became comfortable. If there was unrest anywhere, we couldn’t see it. Some even argued things became better for women, as the world was seldom good to them before, but that might have been propaganda fed to us by the Bureau. Even as a child, I wondered what was “good” about being left behind.
>

Story of Meghana, an Indian girl in foreign country who's asked by her mother to befriend another Indian girl, Pritha. Pritha is well, something totally unbelievable.

- **The fig tree**

> Ankita sees how a room can be oppressive, how idleness can be hypnotic.
>

Story of a grieving woman Ankita, who comes back to her country for her mother's last burial rituals but Haunted by something beyond her imagination.

- **Leaving things**

> I was born only to become my mother’s silhouette against the oval window of our front door, watching another man walk away.
>

This is story of a vet doc who is living in a small town which has been emptied under government orders as something sinister is happening but she choses to stay and comes across something which is beyond anyone's imagination. This is kind of a story that I will always remember.

- **K**

> There’s a truth, no matter how buried, no matter how many better, more appetizing truths have been spun around it.
>

> I learned the best lies are half- truths.
>

A young girl, an apparition of another girl K that appears in her room often. In her dreams too. There's a mystery and there's something strange that marks the end of the story. Another story which made an impact on me.

- **In the winter**

> In the winter I’m pretty because the loneliness makes my face slack, my eyes intense. There are no stories without loneliness.
>

Is this a werewolf story?? I think it is. Short yet powerful.

- **Anomaly**

> Predictably, humanity couldn’t invent anything without fucking up the environment and commodifying what was left.
>

> You would think the introduction of time travel and extratemporal diplomats and stealthy timeline disrupting agents would give every one a new perspective on life. Our species was allegedly on the cusp of evolution, spies sweeping in from other timelines to influence us, but people were still as corny and boring as ever.
>

This story felt like a black mirror sci fi. If you want to enter anomaly you might come across someone you don't want to but in reality you want to like a confrontation with a dead ex lover.

- **Lemon boy**

> There was something horrific about facing a party alone. It made you both invisible and vulnerable at once.
>

Do you see holes around you? I started seeing few after reading this story.

- **Supergiants**

> Even if I showed up at my own mother’s door, she wouldn’t recognize me. There’s barely anything left of the person who grew in her womb, just a bit of organ tissue, a few nerve endings. I’m so utterly free it’s paralyzing.
>

A popular celebrity but what they lost in the process nobody really knows. There's always a cost for everything.

- **Nip**

> “Colors can feel; that’s why they make us feel. If I love a color enough, it can love me back.”
>

This might be the hardest story to explain. Where to even start? There's something totally unexplainable about this story. I have no words. A story of what complete overt obsession can result into.

- **Natalya**

> “You can’t choose the things you remember, The important things will find you.”
>

> I don’t know if I loved you, yet you linger within me like an appari-tion.
>

> You have to be afraid to live.
>

One of the stories which I liked the most. The protagonist is suicidal, currently performing an autopsy on someone he had relationships in the past - an ex- lover.

- **Persimmons**

> Uma always thought fate was a choice.
>

There's a tree, there's a girl and there's a purpose until only one remains. It is about a girl's coming to terms with what society expects from her.

The stories are eerie, absurd and allegorical and leave an everlasting impression on reader's mind. I would not recommend it to everyone although I totally enjoyed reading them. They have a shock factor as well as some gore which many readers can find uncomfortable to read. In all stories the reality is stretched beyond imagination, the creatures like vampires, werewolves and some even that I'm not able to explain are given life. These short stories explore sexuality, grief and happiness, isolation and loneliness and longing to be with someone you loved and even necrophilia.

Highly recommended who like this kind of gore subjects.

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My mind is blown over this incredible debut collection of weird horror! I only wish I had read it with a friend or two to talk out each story, share reactions to the awesome connections and explore the surreal vibes!

The writing is hypnotic and captivating. The relationships between the 11 stories are secretly flawless. Mouths: stories is an instant favourite. Fans of Julia Armfield will love this!

Picking favourites felt easy at first but when I went back to quickly review them, I realized how incredible each of them are for different reasons.

My 5 ⭐️ favs are; Lemon Boy, K, Leaving Things, Natalya and The Fig Tree.

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I didn’t know Puloma Ghosh at all before picking this book on Netgalley, I was just intrigued by the cover art. This “strategy” has sometimes backfired for me in the past, but this time it didn’t. Intriguing might be the right word for the whole collection, because each of the stories was unexpected and strange in some wayd.

Sometimes it’s an alternative world or a dystopia, sometimes it goes into horror territory. It’s often dark, almost always weird. It reminded me of Kelly Link’s stories, but I must confess it’s been a while since I read Link. Ghosh is a young Indian-born American woman, and some stories allude to immigrant experience or travel back to India, but it’s not the main point of these stories.

I enjoyed Leaving things most, as it starts in a town that inhabitants are slowly deserting because of a dark menace around wolves. It’s maybe a werewolf story, but it would be too easy to classify it only like that. Another story I loved is Lemon Boy, a boy that the narrator meets at a party and who tells her about strange holes where people disappear. The Fig Tree is a slightly more traditional haunting story of a young girl who recently lost her mother and is traveling to her native country with her father. The first story of the collection, Desiccation, took me a while to get into, because at first you’d think it’s a realist story of an immigrant girl who is supposed to befriend the only other immigrant girl in town, except that the second girl is… let’s just say uncanny to not spoil anything? and the town they live in is in a world without any adult men.

All stories are very atmospheric, but sometimes I found that what was supposed to happen was a bit too vague for me. It’s been a while I was looking for the right reference that this collection reminded me of, and I finally got it: 2 years ago I read Life Ceremony, a collection of weird short stories by Sayaka Murata. Although Murata’s stories are precise in a very Japanese way, they both share something of surreal mixed with horror. I’m glad I discovered Ghosh and would gladly read other stories by her.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley. I received a free copy of this book for review consideration.

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I loved every story in Mouth, this debut novel of short stories. That rarely happens with me. I appreciate that not every one will be for me but I was seduced by the imaginative stories and writing. This collection of speculative fiction starts with the ordinary lives of people but soon becomes haunting, surreal and evocative. Even if you don't like all the stories, I think you will enjoy most of them. Definitely a book to reread at different stages of your life to appreciate them from a new perspective.

Thank you NetGalley and Astra Publishing House, Astra House for a copy of this ARC to review.

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The stories that are sticking with me the most from this are the last story (Persimmons, about a sacrifice), and the second to last story, Natalya, which marries a love story with an autopsy of a corpse in a really fantastically woven story. This is the first I've heard from this author, and just from what I've seen here, I'm absolutely interested in what she does in the future.

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I read sooooo many short stories. I’ve spent the last six years reading a short story (almost) every day, and I appreciate a truly original, gripping tale. Puloma Ghosh’s debut collection, Mouth, with its well-crafted, weird, female-centered stories, filled me with joy.

I was won over by the opening story, Desiccation, about a strange, shut-off town, where men go "missing" when they reach a certain age. There’s another odd town in Leaving Things, which has been overrun by wolves, but one woman insists on sticking around.

I loved Anomaly, where a woman goes on a date with someone to a weird wormhole thing. The theme of holes in the universe is continued in Lemon Boy, where a girl meets a boy with lemon-colored hair at a party, where he thinks he's seen his dead ex.

The final story, Persimmon, was probably my favorite. A girl prepares for her last day of freedom, before she is sacrificed to a tree.

There is such a wide variety of imagination on display here. All the stories in Mouth are truly original and exciting.

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I'm absolutley here for the weird and wonderful - and this one definitely landed in that category! A disturbing collection of short stories and a brilliant debut! Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for the EARC x

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wow! puloma ghosh's debut book consists of eleven chilling stories that explore themes such as love, sexuality, grief and longing. i have had my eyes on this book for some time and had the honor of getting to read it earlier than its release date (june 11, 2024). each story had me in shock and sometimes really creeped out; my favorite being "the fig tree". really enjoyed the nuances of the characters in the stories and how much wonder this book had me feeling. if you're into horror and into tales with chilling twists this book is for you! i'm thinking of adding this one to my physical library

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Finished this yesterday but was on a plane and exhausteddddd so never reviewed. These were really cool this second queer short story collection i’ve read this week but this was more fantastical and i actually really liked that. i’m normally not a fantasy person or short story person so it was a pleasant surprise. thought the story about the holes was the strongest but there were so many cool ideas explored here!

thank you to netgalley and astra for the arc!

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Thank you NetGalley and AstraHouse Books for this eARC copy of Mouth, out June 11 2024

Mouth is a collection of 11 short stories featuring dystopian, sci-fi elements along with queer exploration & horror that leaves you hungry for more. Puloma Ghosh creates these small worlds where young women engage in their every dark desire, we meet a man haunted by his dead ex, couples traveling through rips in time and werewolves seeking out mothers.

Each story is such a unique experience and there were moments that truly shocked me but I was mesmerized from the start. Ghosh’s writing style has this gentle lull but underneath is a darkness I absolutely enjoyed exploring.

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This was a really solid collection of stories! Very weird, often queer, and beautifully veering from literary into speculative fiction. I enjoyed reading these stories, my favorites being Lemon Boy, Persimmons, In the Winter, and Natalya. The descriptions in these stories really take you in using all five senses, especially (as the title suggests) taste. Highly recommend.

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This short story collection portrays the various experiences of womanhood in raw and vulnerable ways. Ghosh does a lovely job of crafting diverse stories, characters, and character experiences, all while staying consistent with the theme of womanhood. Many of these stories take a deep dive into female friendships, romantic relationships, and family relationships.

The strongest stories are “Leaving Things”, “Lemon Boy”, and “Natalya”. In “Leaving Things”, a woman living in a dystopian small town finds a wolf who, before dying, gives birth to a half human half wolf boy. In “Lemon Boy” the protagonist searches for an anchor in her life and meets a boy at a party, Lemon Boy, who tells her about his ex and the holes she sees. “Natalya” depicts an intimate and vulnerable autopsy of an ex lover.

Ghosh’s collection is strong and succinct. One critique I can offer is the repetition of shedding skin or inhabiting a set of skin. Though, if the collection is examined from a feminist perspective, the inhabiting and shedding of skin certainly makes sense and offers a great critique of modern womanhood.

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I’m keeping an eye out for more work from Puloma Ghosh after this. The curse of short story collections is how hit or miss they can be but there are strong elements I loved even in the stories I was less fond of. Would love to read a full novel by Ghosh in the future! Highly recommended for fans of “weird books for weird girls” booktok heads. 3.75 ⭐️
Thank you to NetGalley and Astra House for the e-ARC!

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Ahhh this short story collection was so good! The stories in this collection were all very weird and visceral. It was plainly written, but it had a strong voice all throughout. My favorites from the collection are Desiccation, Nip, Natalya, and Persimmons. I found that each story differed greatly from one another, which made it very exciting to see what the author had come up with next.

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Puloma Ghosh’s debut anthology featuring 11 short stories focusing on desire, sexuality and loneliness.

An incredible debut with some creepy and well-written stories, it’s hard to believe that this is the first book this author has published! There were plenty of different horror elements included such as body horror, creature features and ghost hauntings so there’s definitely something to cater for everyone!

The standout stories for me where:

Desiccation: 4/5⭐️ a teenage ice skater with necrophiliac tendencies believes that the only other Indian girl at the rink is a vampire - this contained an strange smut scene with some blood drinking 👀

Leaving Things: 4/5⭐️ a town has set a nightly curfew due to wolf attacks and a vet raises a half wolf half human being

K: 5/5⭐️ the ghost of a university student haunts the current student living in her dorm room - the new student discovers the truth behind her disappearance. i found this one to be the creepiest!

Natalya: 5/5⭐️ an autopsy report of an ex-lover - the pathologist examines each of the corpse’s body systems while reporting on their relationship history (TW: self-harm)

Thank you to netgalley and Astra Publishing House for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Full rating: 4.5 stars rounded up

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC!

In her debut collection of short stories, Puloma Ghosh invites readers into a labyrinth of visceral narratives that traverse realms of desire, transformation, and existential inquiry. Each story, a constellation of its own, beckons the reader to delve into its depths, where sapphic yearnings intertwine with surrealist landscapes and existential ponderings.

With "Dessication," Ghosh sets the stage for a journey into the depths of desire and disillusionment. Through the lens of a sapphic romance tinged with vampiric undertones, Ghosh explores themes of existential longing and the ephemeral nature of existence. The narrative brims with evocative prose, frenetic pacing, and atmospheric tension. In "Leaving Things," Ghosh invites readers to witness the process of rewilding—a metaphorical journey of feminine transformation and empowerment. Through the lens of environmental justice and personal growth, Ghosh crafts a narrative that is both introspective and illuminating. With "Anomaly," Ghosh ventures into the realm of temporal distortion and existential inquiry. Through the eyes of an enigmatic narrator, Ghosh navigates themes of identity and belonging with nuance and complexity.

What sets "Mouth" apart is its remarkable cohesiveness. Ghosh demonstrates a keen thematic focus, with recurring motifs and threads that bind the stories together seamlessly. It's a rare feat to find a short story collection that feels so unified in its exploration of diverse themes.

Overall, "Mouth" is a testament to Ghosh's talent and creativity. Her ability to blend sapphic narratives with elements of horror and surrealism is both mesmerizing and thought-provoking. As we emerge from the depths of "Mouth," it's impossible not to be moved by the kaleidoscope of emotions and experiences that Ghosh has crafted. Through stories that transcend genre and convention, Ghosh invites readers to confront the complexities of the human experience with empathy and introspection. “Mouth” is a testament to Ghosh's prowess as a storyteller and a provocateur of thought.

In conclusion, "Mouth" is a triumph—both a testament to Ghosh's prowess as a writer and a captivating exploration of humanity. With its evocative prose and haunting narratives, this collection leaves an indelible mark. Puloma Ghosh is undoubtedly a writer to watch, and "Mouth" is a compelling showcase of her talent and vision.

📖 Recommended For: Advocates for LGBTQ+ Representation, Feminist Readers, Seekers of Surreal and Provocative Narratives, Fans of Carmen Maria Machado's "Her Body and Other Parties."

🔑 Key Themes: Exploration of Desire and Disillusionment, Feminine Transformation and Empowerment, Existential Inquiry and Identity, Reflecting on the Human Experience.

Content / Trigger Warnings: Sexual content (moderate), death of a parent (severe), animal death (moderate), gore (moderate), cancer (minor), drug overdose (minor), drug use (minor), self harm (severe, especially in the story ‘Natalya’).

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Mouth is a collection of eleven short stories that explore grief, sexuality and desire, bodily autonomy and the intimacy of humanity all while blurring the lines of reality.

It is very rare to find a short story collection that works as cohesively as Mouth does. It’s clear Puloma has themes she’s very interested in that appear in some way in every story. Death and disappearing are two themes that are heavily featured in this collection. Lemon Boy, Nip and Natalya all showcase the exploration of grieving someone in such a beautifully haunting and visceral way.

Another large theme within this collection is desire. There is a lot of yearning written in such visceral detail, and not all of it is sexual desire. A lot of deep animalistic desires are explored here as well. Giving into the beast inside you in the most horrific ways possible.

The title Mouth is so fitting for this collection. It’s wild it’s weird it’s absurd and I ate it UP! I would love to have a discussion with Puloma so I could see how her mind works. She is definitely a writer to watch.

Mouth is out June 10 2024. Thank you Astra House and Netgalley for this digital arc.

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This is Puloma Ghosh’s debut collection of short stories. There are 11 unique and haunting tales all connected by some type of mouth reference. They touch on loss, loneliness, grief and heartbreak. Each story was an immersive experience! It was like having a fever dream each time and I totally gave myself to it. I really appreciate how Ghosh was able to highlight the human condition in fantastical, creepy, bizarre yet very compelling ways.

My favorite stories without giving too much away were: The Fig Tree which touched on grief, Leaving Things which includes a half wolf/half human baby and Persimmons that tells of the ultimate community sacrifice. If you like stories that challenge you and make you say “what did I just read?” then this collection is for you! I look forward to reading much more from this author!

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This may be the best book of short stories I have ever read. So many of them felt like I could read a whole book of just that world/story

Every story was so unique with some lit fic, horror, and sci-fi

Would highly recommend for anyone who liked night bitch or my year of rest and relaxation

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Short story collections are a hit or miss for me, but when they are building little dystopias or giving me a sense of unease I tend to love them. This one definitely fell into the hit category. Overall I found Ghosh’s approach to exploring hard topics really compelling. I also really appreciated the world building she accomplished in the short space. There are quite a few stories that I honestly didn’t want to part with and wished were full novels. As with most collections, some of the stories in this one resonated more with me than the others. My favorites from this collection were Desiccation and Leaving Things.

Thank you Astra House for the ARC!

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Mouth is a collection of eleven weird and sometimes wonderful short stories. Many of them involve interactions between humans and animals and otherworldly occurrences. A young woman finds herself enamored by a fellow figure skater, who may or may not be human. Another goes to a party and meets a man with yellow hair who sees emerging holes in the world that already have taken his girlfriend. A physical and metaphorical autopsy of a previous girlfriend and their relationship are detailed. While short story collections are a mixed bag, this was rather strong, and a few stories in particular stood out. In Leaving Things, a woman is living in a town where most of the population, including her boyfriend have fled as wolves have taken over. On her way home, she encounters an interesting creature and brings it home to unexpected results. In Supergiant, we meet a popstar after her last performance. Why can she not touch anyone except her assistant? The world that Ghosh builds in Persimmons is fascinating and I wish it could have been expanded out further. For fans of weird and interesting short stories, I would recommend this collection.

Thank you to Astra House via NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.

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I'm somewhat averse to short stories. They can be an endeavour to pick through shallow ponds and hope to find something worth your time. An author's particular flavour of storytelling permeates each story, whether the genre or the plot changes. That is to say, if I don't like how the author displays their craft in one story, I may not be able to consume the others wholly.

But this collection, Dude. I cannot believe this is a debut. Each story shifts between something lush and surreal to silent and haunting - pulses of cultural dynamics bleed into storylines that are often genre-bending. The ways their words lay across their stories are filled with so much talent. K and the Fig Tree were my standouts in this collection - eerie and chilling but filled with so much to stay. Ghosh speaks of displacement, lineage, and trauma in her stories, blurring the lines between reality and fiction, putting the uncanny into the visions of the everyday.

I highly highly recommend this one. This would be perfect if you're a fan of Mariana Enríquez and Bora Chung.

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These stories were very interesting and cohesive, with repeating themes, however the formatting on this ebook was pretty distracting; it was a little bit of a challenge to know when each new story was starting and there were unfortunately quite a few typos.

These factors took away some of my enjoyment of the stories, but I still think this is a beautiful and haunting collection that focuses on loss, grief, and disappearing people and feelings. LEMON BOY was probably my favorite story, just wow. I would not be hesitant to pick this one up as a finished physical book, and I’m excited to see what this author does next! 3.5 stars rounded up.

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5/5

These stories centered a lot around womanhood; relationships one has with their bodies, with other bodies, with no bodies; desire and grief, etc. Ghosh has a way of capturing the swing of panicked anxiety to calm acceptance. Lately, I have been feeling like the “unhinged female lit” books have been lacking (in the way that they could push it a little bit further but seem to always be stopping short), but Ghosh’s works did not disappoint.

This is my new favorite collection of short stories of all time. 6/11 of the stories were 4-star or above, with one even reaching 6-Star Status for me. Even the ones that I didn’t rate as highly were still good, just less my cup of tea if that makes sense. These stories can bring the ugliness of grief, peace of acceptance, horrors of humankind, and gentleness of animals all to the table to gorge ourselves sick.

I would be so insanely interested if she ever decided to make a full novel out of one or multiple of these short stories. I can’t wait to read more of her works in the future!

Desiccation: 5
The Fig Tree: 3
Leaving Things: 5
K: 4
In The Winter: 2
Anomaly: 3
Lemon Boy: 3
Supergiants: 6 – please make this a full-length novel!!!
Nip: 5
Natalya: 4
Persimmons: 3

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

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The perfect book for anyone who enjoys the topic of female rage.
These though provoking shorts really reminded me of why I love feminist art, this completely encapsulates what it feels like to be a woman and what that means.
Some very extreme and possibly triggering themes.

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Mouth is an eclectic and mind bending collection of stories that looks at humanity and its interactions with paranormal/supernatural beings/events as they converge with reality. This is really just the bare surface of the stories. This collections goes far deeper into discussing themes of trying to find connection with anything, discovering what love actually means, and facing parts of ourselves that we hide deep down hoping no one will find if we don't let them close enough.

I thought this collect was so well done. Every story had its own voice and flavour. They were all very entertaining, yes I did like some more than others, but overall I thought this was a very powerful collection. I would highly recommend for anyone into horror/gore literature who is looking for some really fantastic short stories. I give Mouth all the stars!!

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4.5/5

“I always felt like the odd one. I was sad often. Maybe this was because of my father or my mother, or the books I read or the songs I listened to, but for my whole adolescence, my insides squirmed. Threatened to pour restlessness out of my mouth and ears.”

Mouth is a collection of 11 surreal short stories. A debut collection, Puloma Ghosh uses speculative fiction to push her characters farther than traditional fiction would. Mouth explores grief, sexuality, loneliness, intimacy, and the aching desires of our flesh in a sharp and captivating way. Similar to the themes in Thirst, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, and Cursed Bunny - Mouth is a short story collection where I didn’t dislike any of the stories.

I wished some of the stories within this collection could have been more fleshed out, just because I could’ve read whole novels on most of them. Puloma Ghosh’s writing is unique and captivating. When I started a story, I couldn’t put it down. I read this as an ebook arc, so I don’t know the names of most of the stories I read, which is disappointing because I want to tell you which ones were my favorite, but I am definitely getting a physical copy of this book when it comes out. I feel like I could go back to any one of these stories over and over again without getting bored. It was a mix of literary fiction, horror, sci-fi, queerness, and surrealism which made the collection feel like a mixed bag of amazing weirdness that I couldn't get enough of, mesmerizing me from the very beginning.

“Was I lonely back then? Of course I was. Who wasn’t lonely ‘back then’. In the winter I’m pretty because the loneliness makes my face slack, my eyes intense. There are no stories without loneliness.”

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Woo, this is a weird book! It revels in the strange, uncomfortable, sometimes squirmy feeling as the stories range from supernatural to fantasy to sometimes just a little creepy. The themes of loneliness and sexuality - especially for characters that are outsiders - are present and I think are woven in each of the stories. I can tell this is a debut because sometimes the sentences feel a bit unsure of themselves but generallly, I think this is a really strong debut and I would be very excited to read what this author produces next ! Definitely not a book that everyone will love or "get", but I think for those that do it will be a very special read.

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