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A Collapse of Horses: A Collection of Stories Kindle Edition
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“Evenson’s fiction is equal parts obsessive, experimental, and violent. It can be soul-shaking.” —New Yorker
“Evenson’s stories, small masterworks of literary horror, are elegantly tense. They operate in psychological territory, never relying on grossness or slasher silliness to convey their scariness. . . . For the Stephen King fan in the house: an author as capable, if a touch less prolific.” —Kirkus Reviews
“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
“There is not a more intense, prolific, or apocalyptic writer of fiction in America than Brian Evenson.” —George Saunders
About the Author
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- ASIN : B018Q0XARU
- Publisher : Coffee House Press (January 18, 2016)
- Publication date : January 18, 2016
- Language : English
- File size : 1534 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 240 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #129,619 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Some of these shapes were well formed and after they died left a peculiar stain wherever they were, a residue for the man to think upon, later in the dark. Other shapes didn't exist at all, never forming from the moment they were seen, for is that not what changes a thing into existence, when it is observed? Those things never existed.
So, if you didn't like this review, you won't like this book.
I enjoyed every story to one degree or another but a few that stuck with me the most were "The Dust" which appears to be set in some type of factory during a period of time where it is not safe to go outside. Like a lot of Evenson stories the history and context are scant. For whatever reason they cannot leave the facility willingly and their oxygen supply begins to dwindle leading to madness. "BeartHeart" is another great little short about a couple who put an ultrasound recording of their stillborn babies heart into a Teddy Bear that haunts them. Another creepfest is called "Any Corpse" which is some type of post apocalyptic cannibal story. Many of the stories deal with a form of altered mental status or an unknowing of reality. Brian Evenson is a master of giving the reader just enough imagination rope to hang themselves with.
All in all another great book by Brian Evenson. I look forward to continuing my way through his back catalog as well as anything he releases in the future. I wouldn't suggest a reader who has never read Brian Evenson start with A Collapse Of Horses. They should go read one of his novels or earlier collections first but eventually make their way to this. Established fans should get into it immediately though.
His characters are plagued by self doubt and the kind of questioning that could only be someone who has struggled with what reality is. They are so subsumed by their own subjectivity that the true horror they face is their own minds.
Other themes: dust (or sand) and horses.
These stories are classified as horror, but they are not. Those arent the feelings that develop. I finished each story with a sense of cognitive dissonance. (Theres no way to turn that phrase into a snappy marketable genre title.) The unplesant feeling of holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time. Why is that a good quality of this writing, you ask? Because good literature makes me feel things. Great literature transcends feelings and messes with my head.
Standout stories: blackbark, bearheart, collapse of horses.
Top reviews from other countries
Reading CoH made me think of that Steve Wright gag that goes something like; "The other day somebody stole everything in my apartment and replaced it with an exact replica."
Evenson’s characters often find themselves faced with a similar challenge to their perception of reality; nothing's changed, but everything’s changed. Whereas most of us rely on spouses and friends for our reality-testing, Evenson’s protagonists tend to be isolated, lonely and suffering from a heightened emotional state that might be the result of a knock on the head, a medical operation, or near-starvation, or a life-time of murderous resentment, or a diminishing oxygen supply. These people aren’t quite thinking straight, but you get the feeling that Evenson thinks they’re seeing a fundamental truth about the world and their sense of self.
Interestingly, for an author who relies on open-ended, mysterious endings, lack of closure, and withheld information, quite a lot of these stories return to the same theme; the cost of evasion, the price to be paid for not looking at something squarely. (Or, maybe the impossibility of seeing anything even if you’re looking at it squarely. It’s hard to say anything with any certainty in an Evenson story ) This correspondence of theme and form creates echoes that multiply in all directions, and made it, for me, a hugely exciting read.
The gothic drama is undercut by the simple clear prose. (but he can still give you a sentence like this with all it’s alliteration; “He watched the sunlight slide up the side of the slope and disappear, leaving the air suddenly chill, the papery bark of the trees slowly greying in the fading light.”) He will often underplay, or look obliquely, or clinically, at moments of real physical horror, eg the amputation of a finger. Whereas, he’ll give ordinary, everyday interactions a deep menace and drama. For example, how in Past Reno does he make the prosaic image of a customer hungrily eating a bowl of soup so sinister? In Past Reno, the horror is in all the parts that have been left out. As a story, it’s like a Jenga tower that’s still standing despite having most of itself removed. (Hmmm, not sure if that metaphor works a 100%) Nowhere in the story is cannabilsm mentioned. The closest we get to it is, I think, a mention of the meat of ‘large animals’. So how does he do it? It’s like a magic trick involving suggestion, sleight of hand. It also has one of the best openings for a story ; “Bernt began to suspect the trip would turn strange when, on the outskirts of Reno, he entered a convenience store that had one of it’s six aisles completely dedicated to jerky.”
This is a truly amazing collection. Geniuinely original and unnerving.
The cover image by Sarah Evenson (that can only be seen properly when four new and reissued Evenson books are placed next to each other) is brilliant too. Another quality product from Coffee House Press