Philosophy, Horror, and Denial: Brian Evenson on Uncanny Fiction

Brian Evenson

Brian Evenson isn’t an author that fans of Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, or Chuck Palahniuk typically know, but he certainly should be, as his work is every bit as apocalyptic, surprising, and haunting. For years, Evenson’s readers have been slipping copies of his books into the hands of friends, students, and family members. When travelling, I often keep a copy of Contagion (which Evenson graciously allowed my small press, Astrophil Press, to reprint) and drop it into neighborhood lending libraries, and I must admit that I find a little thrill in knowing that I’ve done my small part in introducing people to this pitch perfect collection of stories. I am not alone in this; many of Evenson’s readers border on evangelicals, spreading the dark word of Evenson. This enthusiasm for Evenson’s work is understandable considering his ability to publish tightly wrought, layered stories that often stick with us long after having read them. There are very few authors I can think of who have a catalog as strong as Evenson; his stories feel entirely new and each of his sentences feel entirely necessary. 

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Where Sounds Meet Spaces, Haunted by Memory: On Cynan Jones’s “Cove”

Cynan Jones’s books tend to rest on the intersection of the interior struggles of his characters and the exterior challenges the elements present. It is only through navigating the difficulties in the natural world that the characters are able to excavate the emotional dilemmas they’re unable to process—certainly, the elements, the land, and the creatures dying at the hands of the characters are symbolic of his characters’ moods, but there is always something else happening beyond Jones’s use of setting […]

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“I Realized the Text Should Lead Me”: An Interview With Jordan A. Rothacker

I first met Jordan A. Rothacker at the Astrophil Press/South Dakota Review booth during the AWP conference in Washington DC. He was carrying a copy of his novel, And Wind will Wash Away and I found it in my hands very quickly. At first, I was a little taken aback by his direct and spirited personality. It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that Jordan is a gregarious and kind man who, like so many of us, is just […]

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Another Side of Brian Evenson: A Review of “Reports”

When I consider authors that have inspired me over the years, there is perhaps no fingerprint more pronounced than that of Brian Evenson’s. It was, after all, upon seeing Evenson read “The Polygamy of Language,” that brought me upon the path that I’m on today as a writer, precisely, a writer of fiction. Evenson’s work showed me, in a way I had not encountered previously, that narrative could grapple with metaphysics and language, and it was as if the chair […]

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Ghosts of Many Worlds: A Review of Jac Jemc’s “The Grip of It”

There is at the core of the American writing tradition an interest in haunts, specters, and otherworldliness as they allow play, or what Hawthorne refers to as “a certain latitude” in fashion and form. Jac Jemc’s latest book on FSG Originals, The Grip of It, seems to me to honor this tradition while finding its own voice. On the surface, the book is a haunted house story—the story of a couple who move away from the rush and clank of […]

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“A Book Trapped In Thought”: A Review of M. Kitchell’s “Hour of the Wolf”

  One of the first books to come from the mysterious but promising new press, Inside the Castle, is M. Kitchell’s Hour of the Wolf. Deceivingly thin, Hour of the Wolf is a dense assemblage of an incredibly readable but decentering book. Kitchell divides the books between cycles (first, second, third, fourth, and final). However, before and after the reader arrives at the first cycle, Kitchell’s book begins a slow transition into the dark of dreamless nights. Beginning with a […]

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A Harrowing Empathy: Cynan Jones’s “The Long Dry,” Reviewed

The Long Dry by Cynan Jones is the third book that Coffee House Press has released in the United States and though it doesn’t have some of the mystery and action that provides a sense of urgency to his previous novel, Everything I Found on the Beach, The Long Dry is still a driving novel in its own right, which is due in some part to the slim chapters and clever sequencing of the book.

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“A Force in American Literature”: Matt Bell’s “A Tree or a Person or a Wall” Reviewed

Matt Bell has become a force in American literature and this is in no small part due to his flexibility in style. His latest collection of stories A Tree or a Person or a Wall is perhaps the most comprehensive example of his stylistic diversity. The collection begins with the title story “A Tree or a Person or a Wall,” which is a story about a boy that finds himself captive in a room with a rather temperamental albino ape. […]

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