An exploration of death

Exquisite Corpse - Poppy Z. Brite
This book is hardcore in terms of violence and lust. The only comparable books I have read, ones as graphic and disturbing with vivid descriptions of dismemberment, disembowelment and bodily waste would be 
Frisk, by Dennis Cooper and In the Miso Soup, by Ryu Murakami.
 
Exquisite Corpse is told in first and third person. The first person narrator is Andrew Compton, a British serial killer who escapes prison by faking death. How he manages this is somewhat vague, magical and shamanistic, but we expect some suspension of disbelief in fiction, and this isn't too much of a stretch.
 
In this way the narrative and plot reflect each other as Exquisite Corpse is an exploration of death both of the narrator's own self and of others. Not only the violent murders that follow prolonged torture, lovingly described, but also more subtle and normal deaths. Death by disease - the AIDS epidemic has badly hit the French Quarter of New Orleans, and the deaths of relationships - familial and lovers, represented by Tran, the exquisite corpse of the title.
 
A lot happens in the story. Yes, it is shocking and grotesque, but it is also poignant and sad. Exquisite Corpse is by far the best book by Poppy Z Brite that I have read so far.