Sunday, January 1, 2017

Review: A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson




   


I have just read a fantastic horror collection and am excited to tell you about it. After having read first Brian Evenson’s story Glasses in Ellen Datlow’s anthology Children of Lovecraft, then reading his story A Seaside Town in The Year’s Best Weird Horror volume 3, I realized there maybe a great writer who I have been overlooking. So I read up on what collections he has available and settled in on A Collapse of Horses. And I was correct. There has been a major author in the field that somehow I missed. There is something indefinite and not human about Brian Evenson's stories in A Collapse of Horses. Each story in this collection is a hymn to confusion and uncertainty. While I would almost say he is a bit experimental in his writing, it is an experiment in mood and theme more than say, how a Cisco or a Burroughs would experiment with form and prose style. He seems to be more influenced by Demons by Daylight era Ramsey Campbell then by the usual suspects Lovecraft and Ligotti. He takes familiar tropes, then reassembles them in such a way where you still recognize them, but know there is something just not right. Another thing about these stories is how drained of emotion they are. Now notice I did not say lack of emotion, I said drained. It’s almost like there was emotion there, which for some unknown reason, has been removed. What is left is a void of mystery and dread. I think Brian Evenson is to Weird Horror what Japanese Noise is to music. Everything is stripped down to its essential elements and what is left is this non human abstraction of horror. And it is somehow even more powerful for it. To see what I mean, try this little experiment, read A Collapse of Horses while listening to Haino’s album So, Black is Myself. Or maybe in the interest of your mental health you really shouldn’t. Now to talk a little of the stories contained in this tome. The title story A Collapse of Horses is absolutely one of the most malignantly disturbing stories I have ever read. A story full of obsessive images like a nightmare that just keeps returning. I swear, for the rest of my life I will be frightened of sleeping horses. A true masterwork of the form, A Collapse of Horses, like Ligotti’s The Bungalow House or Etchison’s The Walking Man, reading it you will know you are reading a master of Weird Horror, and you are not safe. What you are reading may harm you. BearHeart (™) is just fucked up and perverse. It ranks up there with Sturgeon’s The Professor’s Teddy Bear for stuffed animal horror.  Past Reno is a slow burn of inescapable delirium. And the last story in the collection The Blood Drip, ties in with the first story in a very unsettling and vertigo inducing way. You really may not be ok when you reach the end of one of his stories. Evenson’s collection A Collapse of Horses is a black nebula of abstract strangeness. I give it my highest recommendation. Horses? Houses? Horses? I just don’t know anymore.



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