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Song for the Unraveling of the World Paperback – June 11, 2019

4.5 out of 5 stars 462 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


Finalist for the 2019 Los Angeles Times Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction

Finalist for the 2019 Big Other Book Award for Fiction

New York Times, “Best Horror Fiction”

Washington Post, “ Best Horror Fiction of the Year”

NPR, “Best Books of 2019”

Entropy,“Best of 2019”

“These stories are carefully calibrated exercises in ambiguity in which Evenson (Windeye) leaves it unclear how much of the off-kilterness exists outside of the deep-seated pathologies that motivate his characters.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Evenson’s little nightmares are deftly crafted, stylistically daring, and surprisingly emotional.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Missing persons, paranoia and psychosis . . . the kind of writer who leads you into the labyrinth, then abandons you there. It’s hard to believe a guy can be so frightening, so consistently.” —The New York Times

“Evenson is one of our best living writers—regardless of genre . . . Song is a skillfully crafted, cleverly executed, and extremely entertaining collection.” —NPR

“Evenson renders the world as a place of infinite and paralyzing delusion. . . . In an Evenson story, a house isn’t inescapable because of its lack of doors and windows; it’s inescapable because it was built by an impressionable mind.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“To read Evenson is to be privy to a precise, vivid, brilliant unpicking of the everyday—and its others.” —China Miéville 

“You’ve heard of ‘postmodern’ stories—well, Evenson’s stories are post-everything. They are post-human, post-reason, post-apocalyptic. . . . in an Evenson story, there are two horrible things that can happen to you. You can either fail to survive, or survive.” —The New York Times

"[A] collection of short stories that deal with art, paranoia and the dark urges that haunt even the most normal people." —Los Angeles Times

“Brian Evenson is one of my favorite living horror writers, and this collection is him at his eerie and disquieting best.” —Carmen Maria Machado 

“Evenson . . . lures readers into each twisted tale by starting not at the beginning, but . . . somewhere else, creating a sense of disorientation and unease. As each tale unspools and each surreal world clarifies into a malformed sort of logic, the creeps set firmly in. . . . Readers of literary horror will not want to miss this one.” —Library Journal

“Evenson’s uncanny but accessible fiction can remind you of Edgar Allan Poe or ‘The Twilight Zone’ . . . an inspired, thoroughly entertaining book.” —Star Tribune

“I’m not convinced Brian Evenson is entirely human. His literary horror fiction is just too good, too immersive, and too alien for a mere mortal. This book has everything one comes to expect from Evenson—brief glimpses of dark worlds where no one is completely sure where they are, who they are, or what is real.” —The A. V. Club

“Evenson at his most intense and discomfiting . . . he makes our skin rise and crawl with the intimation that all, although outwardly normal, is certainly not. Why else are we paying attention so closely?” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Evenson is our most impressive explorer of the cracks in things that let in not the light, as Leonard Cohen would have it, but fever, chaos, and darkness.” —Vulture

Song puts Evenson’s staggering ventriloquism on display, incorporating elements of science fiction, horror, fantasy, translation, poetry, and myth, often within a single story.” —Epiphany

“[Evenson’s] latest collection offers readers a fantastic overview of his strengths as a writer, from tales of bizarre obsessions to forays into nightmarish bodies and worlds.” —Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Evenson goes to great lengths to undermine, to deterritorialize, to estrange us from our linguistic and ontological habitats. He breaks the iron grip of realism and peels back the monstrous underbelly of life.” Black Warrior Review

“These are stories to tell in the dark for adults, ones that creep up your spine in the middle of the night, urging you to turn the light on again just one more time, lest something be watching you.” —The Michigan Daily

"Evenson’s latest collection, Song for the Unraveling of the World, is more unassailable proof of why this consummate writers’ writer deserves a much larger readership to scare senseless." —Brazos Bookstore

“Mind-blowing, soul-wrecking literature of the highest order, the result of plain old damn good storytelling by an artist at the pinnacle of his career.” —Ink Heist

"Evenson understands both the precision of language and the gut-level appeal of the grindhouse, and the best of his work skates along the border between the two, combining aspects of both. . . . [A] perfect introduction to Evenson’s work for those who are looking to experience it for the first time.” —Tor

“In Song for the Unraveling of the World, Brian Evenson explores what it’s like to be unsettled in one’s own home and skin. . . . Evenson leaves readers feeling most disturbed and empathetic.” —The Arkansas International

“Brian Evenson’s bold and unique short fictions—equal parts surrealism, ontology, and dread—consistently lead the reader to truly shocking discoveries that are as disturbing as they are oddly beautiful. Song for the Unraveling of the World is a map of our paranoia- and anxiety-riddled, existentially challenged, pre-apocalyptic times.” —Paul Tremblay

“Terrifying, full of paranoia and delusion and at the same time haunting and beautiful.” —The Bibliophile Librarian

“[Evenson's stories] take us into intriguing if uncomfortable spaces where we’ve never been. Evenson’s stories can’t quite be said to occupy the genres that they play with, but genres occupy the stories, and he ties them into elegant little knots.” —Locus

"Evenson recalls Poe, as he finds the most frightening way to open another box of horrors.” —Brooklyn Rail 

"Song for the Unraveling of the World is a truly and deeply amazing collection of horror that has every right to be shelved in the same section of the bookstore as Clive Barker and David Foster Wallace, Ursula Leguin and Louise Erdrich. He is that freaking good." —Postcards from a Dying World

“Evenson walks the literary vs genre tightrope, uses minimalist prose to great effect, and has a sharp eye for application of conventions.” Signal Horizon

Praise for Brian Evenson

“Some of the stories here evoke Kafka, some Poe, some Beckett, some Roald Dahl, and one, a demonic teddy-bear chiller called ‘BearHeart™,’ even Stephen King, but Evenson’s deadpan style always estranges them a bit from their models: He tells his odd tales oddly, as if his mouth were dry and the words won’t come out right.” 
—New York Times Sunday Book Review 

“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 

“Admirers of Evenson (
Windeye; Altmann’s Tongue) applaud the edge he maintains between the unexplained and the intimate. This latest collection continues to explore that line, and for how much is left obscured, an eerie emotional echo remains. . . . Evenson’s journey along the boundaries of short fiction make for an eye-opening dissection of the form.” —Publishers Weekly 

“You never realize how deep his fiction has wormed its way into your brain until hours, days, even weeks later, when you’re lying in the dark and Evenson’s images come flooding back, unbidden. 
A Collapse of Horses will stay with you for a long time . . . whether you want it to or not.” —Chicago Review of Books 

“While each piece in 
A Collapse of Horses stands alone as a tale that combines 'literary' and 'horror' elements in novel ways that blur genre distinctions, the collection intensifies as recurring motifs flow through the various narratives, settings, and fictional psyches: bodily and mental disintegration, the ambiguities of human physicality and consciousness, and the permeable borders between self and other.” —Los Angeles Review of Books 

A Collapse of Horses is a perennially dusty, dark, haunted house of atmospheric dilemmas whose plots continually reverse a reader's expectations.” —The Collagist 

“Evenson is interested in philosophy and semiotics, the impossibility of ever truly knowing or naming the world, and our fundamental, helpless dependence on what our senses tell us. . . . . [His stories] are a wonderful feat of the uncanny.” 
—Los Angeles Review

About the Author

Brian Evenson is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes and has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the World Fantasy Award. He is also the winner of the International Horror Guild Award and the American Library Association’s award for Best Horror Novel, and his work has been named in Time Out New York’s top books.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Coffee House Press (June 11, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1566895480
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1566895484
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 462 ratings

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Praised by Peter Straub for going “furthest out on the sheerest, least sheltered narrative precipice,” Brian Evenson is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes and has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the World Fantasy Award. He is also the winner of the International Horror Guild Award and the American Library Association’s award for Best Horror Novel, and his work has been named in Time Out New York’s top books.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
462 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best collection of weird fiction I've ever read.
By Michael Baughan on September 19, 2019
I buy a lot of story collections and anthologies but I almost never read them cover to cover, usually choosing instead to sample, savor, or discard at my own pace. By contrast, this coal car descent through a Jungian shadowland lured me in and dropped the restraining bar on page one, leaving me no choice but to see it through until it ended. The stumbling remnant of me that emerged topside a couple days later wants you to know it was well worth the admission price and then some. Evenson is an absolute master at evoking the radioactive unease and faceless dread that haunts our postmodern periphery. He does so not with violence or spectacle, but with deceptively simple premises and unadorned, almost clinical prose. I might be projecting my own favorite precedents onto a style all its own, but hiding between the lines of these stories (and looking on with admiration) I thought I spotted the Shades of Robert Aickman, Paul Bowles, and Flannery O'Connor. Whatever its true sources or analogs, contemporary Weird Fiction doesn't get any better.
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Top reviews from other countries

Des Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars This tantalising brain-fly of a book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 10, 2021
gabriel magloire
3.0 out of 5 stars Just ok
Reviewed in Canada on May 30, 2020
Robert Reid
5.0 out of 5 stars paranoia
Reviewed in Canada on April 13, 2022
Kevin Edward Proulx
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre Works By Masterful Storyteller
Reviewed in Canada on March 30, 2021