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The Wavering Knife StoriesHe boy and the butterfly are exactly the same Or the possibility that neither pin butterfly or boy ever actually existedOr said a different way Brian Evenson writes with the cool intellectual acceptance of the darkness and absurdity inherent in humanness as well as anyone since Franz Kafka But then again he is Poe than Kafka Witness the title story The Wavering Knife In this one a narrator is obsessively studying the papers of deceased writerphilosopher Eva Gengli He is allowed access to these papers in exchange for taking care the papers of deceased writerphilosopher Eva Gengli He is allowed access to these papers in exchange for taking care Gengli s decrepit executor referred to throughout the story as the benefactor As Narrator S Obsession With Gengli Deepens narrator s obsession with Gengli deepens s condition worsens nobody breaks apart a human body like Evenson until both are physically and mentally ruined The dark tone the creepy first person narrator the parallel of an old man s physical decay with his supposed caretaker s mental undoing The Wavering Knife is nothing if not an update of Poe s classic The Tell Tale Heart Which is not to say that Evenson is derivative While the psychological terrain may be familiar Evenson s attack the calculating violence of his language and imagery feels jarringly new Brian Evenson is an American master of the macabre in the making Evenson s stories are superbly constructed but I felt this collection grow a little repetitive When ou grow accustomed to the grotesue it ceases to be shocking There s a lot going on here of course but towards the end of the collection I started to find it tiresome The characters are pretty much al religious nuts or regular nuts This review first appeared in issue 62 of The Cincinnati Review It s maybe the most fun I ve had thinking about a bookRegarding Fleshknives1 This is the paragraph in which I overlay the subject of this review the finest book I have read in the past twelve months Brian I wish I had written this book Dark methodical these stories wiggle their way into Hummer your brain and stay there for a long long time like little cerebro literary worms 44 Brian Evenson The Wavering Knife contains Barcode Jesus one of the finest American short stories of the last sixtyears Samuel R Delany his 50 literary pillars The Wavering Knife by Brian Evenson Among the writers we read there are some who entertain us some we can appreciate but don t feel any particular affinity with some we intensely dislike and some we admire so much we d like to be them And then there is a small category that transcends all the categories above the writers we are simply in awe of I had such a feeling when I read Th Mann or Maurice Blanchot And now reading Brian Evenson s The Wavering KnifeI should say that I didn t like all the stories in this collection in fact I disliked some of them because of their violence and cruelty though this violence makes me think of Georges Bataille since in many of the stories it s directed against the first person narrator that is against the author s alter ego and is therefore a very different kind of violence that the one in say Hollywood E 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 In White Suare the representation of humans by dimly colored shapes confirms our feeling that something lies behind these words while seeming to mock us with the futility of seeking it Evenson's enigmatic names Thurm Bein Hatcher Burlun placeable landscapes and barren rooms all combine to create a sembl. .

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Ovies One could say that the dismembering of the narrator s body a leitmotif in many of these stories is akin to the falling apart of language and its meaning sorry for the clich but it s hard to put into a language that doesn t sound ridiculous the experience of reading these stories Or one could say exactly the opposite that in order for language to be born the writer has to experience a kind of death language being the only thing worth living or dying over from One Over Twelve Evenson s descriptions of the various mutilations of the body are for me among the most authentic expressions I ve ever come across of the attempt to capture a lost sacredness of language again the word sacredness should be taken here in the sense given to it by Bataille or Blanchot Another author in whose work I felt a similar authenticity is the poet Gh rasim Luca not by accident are both Luca and Evenson praised by Gi Though the first couple of stories in this collection didn t wholly win me over their humor and dark tendencies set enough hooks in my flesh to keep reading The collection opens up after that into a world of rural religious zealots dwelling in moral ambiguity With Baited Breath (Warhammer 40,000) you can almost see the Trump signs in the background obsessed narrators twisted psychological dramas bizarre vignettes of violence and torture tales that recall Kafka s In the Penal Colony but ratcheted up about tenfold The title story was one of my favorites reminiscent of Thomas Bernhard as it follows a scholar studying a philosopher s papers under stultifying conditions Evenson moves into metafictional territory with Moran s Mexico A Refutation by C Stelzmann a fascinating excursion into the uestionable translation of a travel guide complete with amusingly dry footnotes provided by the translator Near the other end of what is a fairly wide spectrum here One Over Twelve pitches the reader headfirst into a drug induced hallucinatory nightmare and is by far one of the darkest bleakest stories I have ever read Evenson s writing feels strongly steeped in the dark tonic of his progenitors engendering a wholly new imagination set loose into the wild fields to run amok I m fully on board with him at this point and will be reading soon I am unsure how to uantify my appreciation of this book THE WAVERING KNIFE is a short story collection so there were stories that were intriguing and mind bending in a way only Brian Evenson is capable of There was no bad story to speak of here but there are some I didn t understand Stories like MORAN S MEXICO A REFUTATION BY C STELZMANN or BODY for example But some of these stories man They re special WHITE SUARE is as much of a challenge to the reader than it is to its protagonist andou find SOME of the answers somewhere else in the book so ou have to remain patient and alert INTRICACIES OF POST SHOOTING ETIUETTE is both hilarious And Eerily Humane VIRTUAL humane VIRTUAL probably my favorite story of the entire book which is about faith and obsession Loved the book It defeated me at times but I loved it nonetheless. Ance of conceptual abstraction as though the material universe had come to exist inside someone's headSmall 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. An excellent collection of short stories dealing
With Themes Of Obsession Horror 
themes of obsession horror other miscellaneous oddities tied together by Brian Evenson s malignant preoccupation with the theme of human distortion Just like the title suggests Brian Evenson loves creating a wavering effect between the grit of humanity and the illusions that often come to define us He gives us chaos and characters thrown into that chaos on some kind of uest to uncover the truth Characters become art objects or uncontrollable menaces ou can t uite define A character s humanity stripped away t uite define A character s humanity is stripped it is in that absence that the true value of humanity is properly realizedThroughout these stories ou will find a beloved wife s death turned into an art installation The Installation disembodied narrators One Over Twelve and Body an imaginary baby Virtual uests for religious salvation The Prophets and Barcode Jesus the deadly imitation of art and life and its effect on the psyche The Wavering Knife and Moran s Mexico and attempts to seek the truth behind rules and promises Promisekeepers and House Rules Evenson churns humanity through the meat processor of fantasy distorting what it means to be human not merely for the sake of grisly imagery but as a means for making sense of why we love lie rule kill procreate worship inspire and liveMy favorite pieces in this collection are Virtual The Wavering Knife One Over Twelve Moran s Mexico House Rules and my all time favorite The Installation Most of the stories are riveting The shorter ones tend to be pretty obliue on first read Garker s Aestheticals The Progenitor Stockwell Calling the Hour but upon subseuent read throughs ield alot of literary heft Most of the stories contain the themes outlined above The only strike against this collection would be that a couple pieces Promisekeepers and The Gravediggers feel like dark comedy sketches and are a little out of place amidst the heavyhitters hereBrian Evenson is a fantastic writer and this collection is an excellent example of that The typeface in this book is the ugliest shit I ve ever seen Yes that impeded my enjoyment I did like about six of these nineteen stories but that s not a very good ratio I got a pretty heavy Paul Auster vibe off this guy granted I ve only read the New York Trilogy but I feel like that s enough to get an Auster vibe off another author in that these aren t really stories they re like ideas of stories I m reminded of what Dave Kehr said about A Woman is a Woman Godard s idea of a musical is just that an idea of a musical If that s our thing have at it I wasn t in the mood this review originally appeared in Art VoiceBrian Evenson observes violence He is the man behind the counter selling pins to boys who will push them through butterfly brains But it s not so much Does the butterfly die Or Why does the butterfly die Or even How does the butterfly die Evenson is all about dissecting the painstakingly generic transactions that brought the pin to the butterfly brain He is also about why in the end 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 Kafkaesue allegories entice the mind while stubbornly disordering it In the title story an obsessive consciousness folds back on itself creating a vertiginous mélange of Poe and Borges both horrific and metaphysical Here as in Moran's Mexico and Greenhous. .

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