The Wavering Knife by Brian Evenson
Trade paperback format.
Winner of the International Horror Guild Award for a Short Fiction Collection
Brian Evenson’s fifth story collection constructs a human landscape as unearthly as it is mundane. Replete with the brutality, primordial waste, and savage blankness familiar to readers of his earlier works, Evenson’s Kafkaesque allegories entice the mind while stubbornly disordering it.
In the title story an obsessional consciousness folds back on itself, creating a vertiginous melange of Poe and Borges, both horrific and metaphysical. Here, as in “Moran’s Mexico,” and “Greenhouse,” the solitary nature of reading and writing leads characters beyond human limits, making the act of putting words to paper a monstrous violation opening onto madness. Evenson’s enigmatic names — Thurm, Bein, Hatcher, Burl — unplaceable landscapes, and barren rooms all combine to create a semblance of conceptual abstraction, as though the material universe had come to exist inside someone’s head.
Small wonder that Evenson’s work has attracted so much attention among philosophers, literary critics, and other speculative intelligences, for it continuously projects a tantalizing absence, as though there were some key or code that, if only we knew it, would illuminate everything. However, the blade of discernment wavers, and we are left to our own groping interpretations. This is a collection to be read and reread.