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A stuffed bear’s heart beats with the rhythm of a dead baby, Reno keeps receding to the east no matter how far you drive, and in a mine on another planet, the dust won’t stop seeping in. In these stories, Evenson unsettles us with the everyday and the extraordinarythe terror of living with the knowledge of all we cannot know.
Praise for Brian Evenson:
"Brian Evenson is one of the treasures of American story writing, a true successor both to the generation of Coover, Barthelme, Hawkes and Co., but also to Edgar Allan Poe." Jonathan Lethem
"One of the most provocative, inventive, and talented writers we have working today." The Believer
"There is not a more intense, prolific, or apocalyptic writer of fiction in America than Brian Evenson." George Saunders
“Brian Evenson is one of the few who will still be read a hundred years from now: either by our grandchildren, or by the machines who have killed our grandchildren.” Hobart, “An interview with Brian Evenson”
"Packed with enough atrocities to give Thomas Harris pause. . . . Not many writers have the imagination or the audacity to transform what looks like salvation into an utterly original outpost of hell." Bookforum
“Evenson’s writing is something to be read in short intervals, like a good tea that you want to savor to the last drop.” Twin Cities Geek
Praised by Peter Straub for going "furthest out on the sheerest, least sheltered narrative precipice"
Brian Evenson has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and is the World Fantasy Award and the winner of the International Horror Guild Award, the American Library Association's award for Best Horror Novel, and one of Time Out New York's top books.
|Publisher:||Coffee House Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Brian Evenson: Praised by Peter Straub for going “furthest out on the sheerest, least sheltered narrative precipice,” Brian Evenson has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the World Fantasy Award and the winner of the International Horror Guild Award, the American Library Association’s award for Best Horror Novel, and one of Time Out New York’s top books. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and three O. Henry Prizes, Evenson lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he directs Brown University’s Literary Arts Program.
Table of Contents
A Collapse of Horses
The Blood Drip
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.5 stars, rounded up (generously) to 4 stars I always think I'm going to like Brian Evenson's short stories more than I actually do. As an author, Evenson ought to be one of my favorites: winner of the ALA Best Horror Novel and International Horror Guild awards, finalist for the Edgar and Shirley Jackson awards. It may be significant that all of these honors derived from his novels The Open Curtain and Last Days, as I tended to prefer the longer stories in this collection. In fact, my top five included the two longest stories: "The Dust," a classic science fiction tale, at 33 pages and "Click," the 21 pages of which could have made a terrific Twilight Zone episode. Rounding out my top five were "The Punish," about revenge; "A Collapse of Horses," in which the reader is trapped inside a collapsing mind; and "Bearheart™," which would fit quite nicely on the creepy toy shelf with Stephen King's "The Monkey." Other influences include Franz Kafka, who could easily have been the author of "A Report." What made this collection only somewhat-better-than-average for me was the same thing that bothered Goodreads reviewer Figgy, whose words I have taken the liberty of borrowing: "These stories don't have a solid resolution, leaving it up to the reader to decide, but often to a point where this reader was left wondering what the point of many of them even was." Maybe this uncertainty was "the point," but I like my horror to rest on more solid ground. This review was based on a free ARC provided by the publisher.
"Black Bark" ushers us into the collection, introducing us to Sugg and Rawley, two men on the run in the old horse American west. Sugg took a bullet in the leg, and is holding out hope for a cabin waiting just around the next bend in the trail. Instead, they settle for a cave, where a "good luck charm" has good missing from a bloody boot, and a story is told in the flickering light of a campfire. The story of black bark, found in the coat pocket of a man who had no idea how it got there. Then, later, another story is told. "'Doesn't matter much one way or the other,' said Sugg. Then he opened his mouth wide and smiled. It was a terrible thing to watch. Rawley began to be very afraid." "A Report" reminds me of Kafka (which makes sense, considering Kafka's influence on a young Evenson, something I found out well after making this comparison), only better, soaked with the terror of imprisonment without reason, without end, and - possibly the worst part - without explanation. The tricks the mind plays, and the victims becoming the instigators. "The Punish" explores the enduring power of childhood trespasses, performed in secret, away from adult eyes and rules, and how these actions can shape the rest of a person's life, for good and for ill. This is a tragic tale of never being allowed to forget the past, and the power of karma. In "Cult," one cannot help but think of religious compounds, which include those founded on LDS teaching, that litter the western hinterlands of the United States. The weakness and indecision of our protagonist in dealing with an ex had me seconds from screaming at the page. Reads like a price of slightly spooky contemporary fiction, wrapped tight in personal lamentation and religious critique. Excellent. "A Seaside Town" is - simply and crudely put - one of the best pieces of uncanny and weird fiction I've ever encountered. It reads like Ligotti on a Victorian holiday, and makes the mundane into something unsettling, threatening, dangerous. I have no idea why this story scared me so much, why the activities in the courtyard filled me with such disquiet, but they did. All of them. Stories don't frighten me much, but this one did. A masterstroke of the uncanny that left me scratching my head in grateful awe. "The Dust" is realistic science fiction Noir, with the situation being very relatable to any locality on any planet. An insidious dust is wreaking havoc on a mining operation, quickly becoming the last of the small crews' problems as they deal with depleting oxygen and the death of one of their own. This is a longer work, a murder mystery novelette buried within a survival tale set on some nameless rock floating in the cold, airless reaches of space, and I couldn't stop turning the pages. "BearHeart (tm)" is as harrowing tale of parenthood cut short, and the copping mechanisms employed by the grieving couple left spinning in the wake. You can see what's coming, but you don't turn away, because you can't. "Scour" explores the delicate nature of life, the and the long, unending concept of death. The drudgery of the afterlife. If death came for you, would you recognize it? Would you know that you're dead? Once again, dust and grit play a central role "Past Reno" might be the second-best story in A Collapse of Horses, as it gins up dread in ways that you never thought possible, including through the unlikely vehicle of a diner bathroom mirror. Evenson at his best.