Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How They Were Found” as Want to Read:
How They Were Found
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

How They Were Found

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  285 ratings  ·  51 reviews
"Reminiscent of Friedrich Durrenmatt's "The Winter War" in Tibet in its calm examination and unsettling embodiment of mental and physical extremes, "How They Were Found "is a dreamer's chronicle of the loss and partial recovery of a world given over to the wrecking ball. Fierce, unflinching, funny, "How They Were Found "is just the book we need right now, Matt Bell just th ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Keyhole Press (first published October 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How They Were Found, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How They Were Found

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,126)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a fantastic collection of short stories. Matt Bell shows a great deal of range in styles and settings -- from the OuLiPo influenced "An Index of How Our Family Was Killed," to the extended and subdued horror of "The Receiving Tower," from the fantastically rearranged story of Red Riding Hood in "Wolf Parts," to the nightmarish story of the Collyer brothers, historical hoarders extraordinaire, in "The Collectors." As a writer of short fiction, Matt Bell contains multitudes. The range of t ...more

(insert my usual preamble about my eh-ness about short story collections)

That said, again, this book has some of the problems I normally have with short story collections, but there is a difference. Where too many authors have story collections that end up blending into what is basically the same story just told a bunch of different ways with some different characters and things happening and they might all seem different on the surface they are just treading on the same ground. See for example
The burly man finishes his can of beer and wonders aloud why there’s a dead girl in the fridge. The wolf tells him what do you expect at this time of the year, sirloin? They continue to leaf through the latest catalogue of lawn furniture which arrived that morning.

No! – let’s for once resist the ventriloquial delights of cheap parody. Instead let’s say this collection has four great stories in it, which is four more than a lot of other books you could mention, and a sprinkling of ones which fra
Tanuj Solanki
Problems with Notes about 'How They Were Found'

1. 'How They Were Found' has been touted for its originality. It is not as original as it is in fact a search for originality. One can call it experimental, but its experiments are not the experiments of an wizened scientist. This is a young lad mixing chemicals in his basement lab.

2. The stories that deal with love, loss, and the responses to loss, connected the most with this reader. In the opening story, 'Cartographer's Girl,' written with a bala
When I read the last page of this book, I had to take a deep breath and say damn. This is the kind of book that is so perfectly executed it makes a writer want to put down her pen forever, and makes her want to start from page one again to see just how the author pulled it off. It's truly a spectacular collection.
Ethel Rohan
Read "Cartographer's Girl," the first story in Matt Bell's powerful debut collection, HOW THEY WERE FOUND, and I challenge you to stop reading. This modern day fairy tale moved me deeply, and sets the extraordinary tone for these fresh, inventive and deeply affecting stories.

From "Cartographer's Girl":

"The compasses are disappointingly true, pointing north over and over, when all he wants is for one to dissent, to demur, to show him the new direction he cannot find on his own."

"... and then she'
Ticklish Owl
The Cartographer’s Girl ★★★★
The Receiving Tower ★★★★★
His Last Great Gift ★★★
Her Ennead ★★★★
Hold On To Your Vacuum ★★★
Dredge ★★★
Ten Scenes From A Movie Called Mercy ★★★★
Wolf Parts ★★
Mantodea ★★
The Leftover ★★★★
A Certain Number of Bedrooms, A Certain Number of Baths ★★★★
The Collectors ★★★★
An Index of How Our Family Was Killed ★★★★★

If you liked this book, you might also enjoy:
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Pretty Monsters: Stories
Somewhere Beneath Those Waves
Edward Rathke
How They Were Found is a powerful collection crossing genres and styles, but always with a distinctness to it. It's not a writer trying to fit into different modes, but a writer applying himself to stories, bending genres and conventions to his will with extraordinary ease.

The title is rather apt in that each story, at some level, is about people searching for something or someone, whether it be themselves, their mother, their lost lover, their daughter, or just a reason to keep going, to keep
Robert Wechsler
This story collection is the unflinching work of a young master with an incredible imagination and an excellent, often rhythmical prose style. Reading most of his stories is painful, but it is a pain that is earned, that is experienced in the form and language of each piece. The violence in these stories is both kept at arm’s length through the stories’ formal structures and heightened and experienced in a fresh way.

Bell’s stories (these are my first encounter with Bell’s writing) bear a resembl
A solid of first collection of stories, ranging in influences from science fiction to true crime to historical fiction. The last two stories were among the best: "The Collectors"--a re-telling of the end days of the Collyer brothers, hoarders extrordinaire, crushed by their self-made nightmare; and "An Index of How Our Family Was Killed," which tells about just that, in the form of an index--a constraint nicely tackled. While the voices vary from story to story, the overarching theme is inescapa ...more
First off, I want to say I was familiar with Matt's work coming in, having hooked up on the social sites (we writers be pimpin' yo!) and downloading a free sample of his short story The Collectors which was probably the best short story I've read in aa while- then came these stories.

Not every story in the collection caught my emotion. The apocalyptic story about the dimmed older soldiers at the receiving tower was written with pin point precision and I could feel how cold it was by the descripti
Jennifer Spiegel
How Who Was Found?
A book review of Matt Bell’s How They Were Found

Do I dare write about Matt Bell’s book? I mean, he’s not just a colleague—he works for my publishers! Shouldn’t I avoid it? Isn’t that kinda dangerous?

Alas, that’s what I do. I write. I share. I say stuff. So, here I go.

Remember this: I’m living on the edge.

I’m not much of an experimentalist. I’m not much of a postmodernist. I read some Experimental Fiction and roll my eyes in disdain. Some of the prose I’ve literally thrown ac
Matt Bell's short story collection, How They Were Found, is dark, disturbing, creative, experimental and imaginative. Some of them will make a reader feel highly uncomfortable, which only stands as a testament to the power of the writing.

Despite being slightly unimpressed with the first story in this collection, The Cartographer's Girl,* I found the rest of the stories far more enjoyable. The stories that stand out for me as being worth re-reading are The Receiving Tower, His Last Great Gift, Ho
Charlie L
It took me a while to get into this book, but when I did, it was completely rewarding. There are two reasons for this. First, the book presents alternative realities that are perfectly believable. "The Leftover" is the best example of this, as the science fiction in the story is secondary to the character changes that are going on. The characters are real; the only thing that is unreal is what happens to the characters. Thus, this book is a perfect example for me, as that describes exactly the k ...more
Adam Rodenberger
I've been on a kick recently, trying to find short story collections by little-known authors or those better known on the far outskirts of the literary canon, people pushing beyond just pure narrative and reconfiguring text to suit their own needs. Matt Bell's "How They Were Found" sounded like something I would enjoy immensely, if only for the imagination and possibly not for the writing. As far as I'm concerned, he delivered on all counts.

The majority of the collection (13 stories total) are l
Matt Bell, you brilliant bastard. If he's not already your favorite new writer, you might want to fix that. The genre-defying author of Cataclysm Baby has done the world a favor by combining all of his best, previously published short stories into a single collection. Not a complaint can be said about the whole bunch. Every story bleeds originality and leaves an indelible mark on the reader that borders between child-like wonder and green-eyed jealousy. For me, Bell's prose is simply inspiring. ...more
downloaded audio by Iambik for review

Listened 3/8/12 - 3/15/12
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of wicked sharp short fiction
Audio Download (approx 6 hrs)
Publisher: Iambik / Keyhole Press
Narrator: Mark F Smith

Matt Bell's How They Were Found was one of those books that sat on my to-buy list near forever but never really jumped out at me from the shelves as I was roaming the aisles of bookstores looking for something to buy.

Yet when I recently saw that Iambik had recorded it, I knew this was
Matt Bell has found a fan in me; his stories are original and exciting, touching and inspiring. In one story, about an isolated sociopath, Bell manages to maneuver the reader into empathy, making monstrosity beautiful and sad. In his novel retelling of the Red Riding Hood tale, he turns ancient weakness into modern empowerment. His writing is crisp and colorful, and his stories are bright--they massage emotions and they push boundaries; they shine and they haunt. I highly recommend this collecti ...more
Bell brings us everything: symbolism, futurism à la David Ohle, devastation, surrealism, scenic energy, fractured fairytales, consumption, struggle, claustrophobia, and family decay. But this is not to say How They Were Found spreads itself too thin or is too chaotically varied; Bell knows how to keep his world in check, his every word balanced against another, delicately, like a system of weights...[read the full review at The Rumpus: ]
One of the few short story collections I have had trouble putting down. This puts it in line with Drown and Interpreter of Maladies.
This is a very strong collection. Stories that really stood out include "The Cartographer's Girl," "The Receiving Tower," "Dredge," The Leftover," "The Collectors," and "An Index Of How Our Family Was Killed."
Won this book from First Reads! There are times when I enjoy reading short stories. This is one good book. I felt like I had completed a book after each story. Even one that was an award winning story.
Visceral, scalpel sharp placing of words to create people on the edge. Wolf Parts, The Collectors (previously in chapbooks), Dredge, and Her Ennead were particular faves.
My book bounty continues! Just received this today and I'm going to start reading it
Nov 02, 2010 Jim is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
About 100 pages in. "The Receiving Tower" my favorite story so far...
Marlin Jenkins
Since meeting Matt Bell at Saginaw Valley State University at a reading a few years ago, I’ve read a lot of his work in literary journals and thoroughly enjoyed much of it. I’ve been meaning to read How They Were Found since, but never got around to it until this summer. I expected it to be very good, but how much I enjoyed it exceeded my expectations.

One of Bell’s most impressive feats in this collection is range; the stories vary greatly in length, form, and aesthetic approach. In the same col
What Bell accomplishes in just one of these stories is jealousy-inducing. As a whole, Lord! This guy is sickeningly talented.

Bell excavates the human experience without sacrificing character development or plot for the sake of fancy-pants word-naningans. Even crossing genres as deftly as he does, this never feels like a "wacky for wacky's sake" experience. In simpler terms, Bell respects his reader. There are one or two points where things tend to go too long or too short, but the emotional grav
Annette S.
It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a collection of short stories as much as I did How They Were Found. Matt Bell is a wonderful writer: his stories are varied in topic and style, but he never fails to find the voice of each of his characters, making them real, even when the world they inhabit is very different from any we might recognise.
Take the opening story, The Cartographer’s Girl. Here we are introduced to the cartographer, who is drawing detailed and annotated maps of the city in
I have added this book to my "To Read" list and am looking forward to it solely based upon the review by Jennifer.

Okay - first sitting - I have read one and a half stories which I am enjoying but I think maybe this book should have been subtitled 'Stories of Hopelessness and Despair'

Finished - Here is my review:

In deciding upon this book to read I discovered the term "Experimental Fiction".

Some of the stories take the form of a type of poetry - beginning each section with the same words (Her ba
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 37 38 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Fugue State
  • In the Devil's Territory
  • The Physics of Imaginary Objects
  • May We Shed These Human Bodies
  • What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us
  • Scorch Atlas
  • Understories
  • Tongue Party
  • This Is Not Your City
  • The Ones That Got Away
  • Daddy's
  • Normally Special
  • Unpossible and Other Stories
  • The Weather Stations
  • The Universe in Miniature in Miniature
  • Pee on Water
  • The Great Frustration
  • Look! Look! Feathers
Matt Bell is the author of How They Were Found, a collection of fiction from Keyhole Press. His fiction has been anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories 2010 and Best American Fantasy 2. He is also the editor of The Collagist and can be found online at
More about Matt Bell...
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods Cataclysm Baby The Collectors Wolf Parts How the Broken Lead the Blind

Share This Book

“The compasses are disappointingly true, pointing north over and over, when all he wants is for one to dissent, to demur, to show him the new direction he cannot find on his own.” 2 likes
More quotes…