A Collapse of Horses
By Brian Evenson
Published by Coffee House Press, 2016
I can only guess at what Brian Evenson is compared to, having never seen a review of his work (because I haven’t sought one out, i’m sure there’s plenty of terrible writing about him), but it’s hard to imagine it being names one finds alongside Stephen King in the airport section at whatever imaginary bookstore nobody but example-makers goes to anymore. Evenson’s work doesn’t telegraph reality in the way that what gets categorized as horror so often does—it’s just too weird a place for one to pretend that the people who populate his stories are the sort of people you might meet in life. They’re too determined to stop and talk to you, for one, they’re not readers, for another. They’re not “likable” in any sort of use of that term, but that isn’t to say that they’re hateful rogues—they’re just there, human detritus in full grown skin. It’s not often that you come across them expressing concerns about jobs, love, money. It’s all survival and fear, but most of all, it’s confusion: that’s the one most salient thread that binds these stories together, a confusion with the situations that the characters are presented with or drowned in, confusion that kills them, confusion that terrifies them. The language the stories are written in—an English that feels cut in leather and shape, sentences that end with a Beckettian immediacy and paragraphs that pulse with worry—is fast and muscular, but it isn’t masculine. These are stories that read like they were written by an animal, something with speed, a creature whose body evolved by design to perform a function. Nothing is left to decay by its leavings, the bones rest in the sun, stripped and ready to be bleached by time. It’s not a narrative. It’s an archive. Excellent work by someone who seems incapable of producing anything else.
-Tucker Stone, 2016