Review: A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell – Luke Tarzian

Review: A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell – Luke Tarzian

A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell: (Or, an Account of Catastrophe by Stoudemire McCloud, Demon)A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell: by Luke Tarzian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘A Cup of Tea…’ is a clever, at times surreal, hard-hitting exploration of grief. If you have ever experienced loss, you may see yourself reflected in Lucifer as he deteriorates over a missing kettle. A kettle given to him by his mother. It is often small, surprising things, that drag us back into our grief: a Christmas card, a certain drink, the passing thought “I bet they’d love this” that jars us into remembering that person is gone. Tarzian has expressed this perfectly within A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell.

It feels almost odd to offer praise for such a raw and vulnerable piece of work. It becomes very personal as Tarzian explores specifically his own grief and mental state following the sudden loss of his mother. It feels perhaps crass to say “well done!” when reading through such intimate thoughts and experiences. I can only hope a review goes some way to counteracting the heavy imposter syndrome Tarzian speaks of that is so synonymous with creative pursuits.

There is no real resolution because grief doesn’t have a real resolution. Tarzian talks about his ongoing recovery from loss and the use of Lucifer and his kettle shows that loss can surprise us and take back over. It is inspiring to see the truth laid out bare in this novella both as an exercise in recovery and as a confirmation that we are not alone in how grief can derail us. As someone who lost a grandparent this year, I found ‘A Cup of Tea…’ to resonate strongly with my experiences and I found this somewhat of a comfort to see some reflection of my losses in Tarzian’s words.

Whether it’s through the dreamlike, chaotic sequences in Hell or the raw, unbridled, journal-like entries from the author that follow; A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell will take you on a journey through grief. At 90 pages, it is a short and impactful story that I certainly recommend as a window into grief and the toll it can take on us mentally, physically & spiritually.

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