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The Open Curtain

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  466 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews

When Rudd, a troubled teenager, embarks on a school project, he runs across a series of articles from the 1902 New York Times chronicling a vicious murder committed by the grandson of Brigham Young. Delving deeply into the Mormon ritual of blood sacrifice used in the murders, Rudd, along with his newly discovered half-brother, Lael, becomes swept up in the psychological an
Paperback, 223 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Coffee House Press (first published 2006)
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The Backslider by Levi S. PetersonThe Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna BrooksThe New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna BakerThe Lonely Polygamist by Brady UdallRefuge by Terry Tempest Williams
Alternative Mormon Literature
24th out of 61 books — 32 voters
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Now That's REALLY Freakin' Weird...
280th out of 313 books — 412 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,098)
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Mar 11, 2016 Panagiotis rated it really liked it
Ο Έβενσον είναι ένα μικρό μυστικό μεταξύ των βιβλιόφιλων. Από 'κείνους τους συγγραφείς που παρότι έχουν σπάνιες αρετές, όπως ξεχωριστό ύφος και προσωπικό όραμα, λίγοι τους γνωρίζουν. Εγώ έπεσα πάνω του τυχαία μια μέρα, έπιασα το The Last Days, σαγηνεύτηκα από τις νοσηρές εικόνες του και έκτοτε έχει μπει στη λίστα μου όλη του η εργογραφία.

Δεν είναι διασκεδαστικός ο Έβενσον. Στο πρώτο βιβλίο που διάβασα είχα ανάμεικτα συναισθήματα τα οποία εκφράστηκαν με τρία αστέρια. Κάτι όμως με μαγνήτισε στον
Stephen M
I had some ideas about this book that I was pretty convinced were correct. Or as correct as an interpretation can be. That was until I read the author's afterword and sort of had the book spoiled for me. It was interesting to read the author's take on his own work but I felt let down that my way of seeing this book was not the way the author intended at all. In fact, it was the exact opposite. With friends, I've often discussed the significance of authorial intent in analyzing a novel. For us, i ...more
Sep 16, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Brian Evenson is a writer I've been meaning to read for quite some time but who I never got around to buying a book of until this past weekend's book fair. I don't think they are all like this one. By the back cover one might think this is a horror novel, or apocalyptic based on the blurbs by Peter Straub and George Saunders, but I think those are blurbs for Evenson in general and not for this novel. Although there is something kind of psychologically horror like in this book. Normally in my rev ...more
Oct 13, 2014 Maciek rated it really liked it
Brian Evenson wrote the excellent Last Days which was my introduction to his work and became one of my favorite novels; I still think about it and will certainly re-read it. It's October, the time of the year to read spooky novels, and my first pick for the season had to be another of Evenson's novels, one which I haven't read yet - The Open Curtain.

Brian Evenson is not strictly a horror writer; his work defies categorization. Last Days is a detective novel, a story of religious obsession and a
Apr 02, 2015 Annet rated it really liked it
Shelves: dark
Wew, this is a dark book. I mean, dark black....
I read some reader's reviews, 'read with the light on' and one about a bad dream... yeah, I can see that this book does this to you.
But the thing is, this book is very well written, and the story just gruesomely fascinating and you keep wondering, what's going on, who is who now... etc.. I got to know this writer, Brian Evenson, through his apocalytic book Immobility (highly recommended) and now I know this writer is good, though with its dark sid
Jan 20, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it
I am going to straight-up admit that after reading this book, the Mormon church kind of freaks me out, more than it already did. Honestly, all religions freak me out but the amount of secrecy surrounding the Mormon church provides that extra shiver factor which I could do without. Not that this book paints a negative picture of the LDS. I think it paints an accurate picture, an important distinction, especially considering the author's experience. Evenson states in his afterward that this book w ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Mar 06, 2016 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Brian Evenson’s psychological horror story is a convincing and unnerving portrait of mental disintegration. He brings together the life of Rudd Theurer, a disaffected Morman teenaged boy; that boy’s fascination with a 1902 murder involving William Hooper Young, who was a grandson of Brigham Young; and a social setting that allows the boy’s growing madness to pass unnoticed in an atmosphere that combines neglect, abuse, and denial. The book skirts becoming overloaded with complications and refere ...more
Jamie Grefe
Jan 19, 2015 Jamie Grefe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
Review coming... as soon as I calm down from how good this book is.
Po Po
Apr 25, 2016 Po Po rated it really liked it
So I finished this late last night. I thoroughly enjoyed this crazy-wild-ride-of-a-book.

Disturbingly creepy, macabre and intense. This left me totally unsettled and extremely uncomfortable. A suspenseful story that kept unveiling (ha!) some new freakish horror at every turn.

What kind of twisted mind comes up with this stuff, and even more distressing, what kind of mind revels in reading this depravity?!

* * *

Would I appreciate this story as much IF:

(1) it didn't revolve around strange Mormon ritu
Amanda Davidson
Jul 21, 2007 Amanda Davidson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ex holy rollers
the writing is cold, plain, tense, clean, disturbing. a week after i read it, i had a bad dream. there is no bloat, nothing extra in the prose, nothing pretty. as i read it i felt that i was absorbing a lesson about how to write sparely.

i read the author's afterward, about how the novel investigates the integral relationship between mormonism and violence. this idea is dramatized in traumatizing detail. i'm interested in how evenson uses and questions religious symbolism on so many levels. mark
Jeff Jackson
Sep 05, 2011 Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it
'The Open Curtain' is a strong suspense novel, but given the rapturous praise it's received I was expecting a bit more. For the first two sections, the prose is a bit pedestrian and plodding. Also it's hardly a Spoiler Alert to say that you realize Rudd is schizophrenic early on and everything that follows is predictably the result of this condition. Throughout there are a number of creepy moments, haunting narrative ellipses, insightful and indelible descriptions. But the book really burst to l ...more
Chris Cangiano
Mar 19, 2014 Chris Cangiano rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, literature
Brian Evenson crafts another excellent tale which chillingly combines the concepts of identity, possession, Mormonism, history, mental illness and murder. Rudd, a troubled Mormon teen, rediscovers, as part of a school research assignment, an early Twentieth Century murder committed by one of Brigham Young's grandsons. He quickly becomes obsessed with the crime and an enigmatic figure named Elling, who Young's grandson claimed was the actual killer. Simultaneously, Rudd also becomes obsessed with ...more
Paul Eckert
Nov 09, 2010 Paul Eckert rated it really liked it
I think the best word to describe this book is...creepy. Throughout the entire story, I just had an uncomfortable feeling. Great writer that he is, Evenson draws you into it slowly, and at some point, you have to look back at what you've read to see where the insanity really began.

I don't want to say much about the premise so that nothing is given away. Here's the most spoiler-free blurb I can think of:

Rudd is a young Mormon boy living with his mother in Utah. His father is dead, and while he
Wu Ming
Dec 29, 2010 Wu Ming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WM2: E' molto difficile parlare di questo libro senza rovinare ai lettori il piacere della scoperta. Non perché la trama sia un susseguirsi di colpi di scena, un meccanismo perfetto che non bisogna svelare. Il fatto è che il racconto cambia pelle almeno cinque volte nel corso di 280 pagine e ogni volta ti ritrovi a pensare che il romanzo non è più come lo immaginavi, che le tue aspettative erano sbagliate e che dovrai fare i conti con qualcosa di diverso. Eppure, mentre superi lo choc, capisci c ...more
Vaughn Entwistle
Jul 29, 2012 Vaughn Entwistle rated it it was amazing
It’s not often that I stumble upon a writer who blows me away not only with his/her storytelling, but also with his/her prose style. Recently, however, I discovered the short stories and novels of Brian Evenson.

I just finished the THE OPEN CURTAIN and am currently reading through two of Evenson’s short story collections: FUGUE STATE and WINDEYE. Evenson’s fiction is classified as Horror, but this is not the horror of shambling zombies with a bad case of the brain-munchies, or sparkly vampires w
David Bridges
Sep 07, 2014 David Bridges rated it it was amazing
Just finished Brian Evenson's The Open Curtain and I can definitely say Evenson is one of my favorite writers period. This is the 5th book I've read by him and I can't really choose a favorite because I like them all. I have read Immobility, Last Days, Windeye, Baby Leg, and now The Open Curtain. I will say that if you want to read Evenson The Open Curtain would be a fine place to start. This book was apparently very personal to him and you can tell by how amazing the characters in this book are ...more
Apr 27, 2014 Stan rated it it was ok
The best part of this book was the author's afterword, in which he discussed his upbringing in Mormonism and his eventually breaking with that religious group. He mentions an undercurrent of violence that he feels characterizes Mormonism. The story centers on a Mormon teen who, after doing a research paper on an old murder possibly motivated by a Mormon "blood atonement", gradually loses touch with reality, probably as a part of a more general psychosis. The first third of the book was creepy, m ...more
Mar 10, 2007 Ryan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Mormons who kill
Mormon murder mystery. Evenson wrote the first two-thirds when he was a younger writer, and it shows. The thriller elements all fall into place and it's actually pretty predictable.

The last third, however, is out of control. You can tell it's more mature writer, who's interested in doing things wayyy differently. Totally makes the entire endeavor worth it. Go Mormon murderers.
Dec 03, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it
I have perhaps become spoiled by my time splashing in the shallows of genre fiction, seduced by the promise of easy entertainment and little cognitive output. This is not to say that either fantasy or science-fiction are, on the whole, mindless. Of course not. We have seen over the past decade (or a bit more), the ascension of Tolkien to literary classic, and, if sci-fi remains somewhat ghettoized, it nonetheless has shown its potential for inspiring scientists and technologists and raising ques ...more
Jan 16, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
Evenson says that this is his last novel about Mormonism--we shall see. Very readable account of this world he knows so well--both in contemporary terms and in historical background. Not as wildly innovative perhaps as some of his other books but an excellent read, very well done.
J. Sanders
May 29, 2015 J. Sanders rated it it was amazing
In THE OPEN CURTAIN Brian Evenson brings the contradictions and barbarities of blood atonement to the surface as a conscious act of criticism of Mormonism and its history. Peter Kerry Powers argues that fiction “can textualize the ethnic cultural memories that are elsewhere ritualized, embodied, disciplined, and maintained through religious traditions. Fictions provide a discursive space wherein the counter-memories of ethnic religious practices can be articulated and can resist the universalizi ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Samuel rated it liked it
A genre book, a crowbar against the walls of narrative, a historical essay, a Mormon anti-tract at once.

Literary horror that begins as James, leans Poe, spirals into . . . Barthelme? And explicitly religious, the bald-faced questioning of Graham Greene. Psychological, interior the way only fiction can be. Evenson's brave enough to follow through on his premises. Results in a book unique against almost any fiction I've read.

Something obviously, deeply personal, with the contradictions and unfini
Donald Armfield
May 30, 2011 Donald Armfield rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror-thrillers
Peter Straub said it best "A Stunning Book"

Kristen Schrader (Wenke)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zach Zane
Aug 09, 2016 Zach Zane added it
Shelves: 2000s
Horror: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay
Terror: a state of intense fear
Sin: an offense against religious or moral law

I think I read Brian Evenson mentioning horror being about sin, in some interview somewhere, responding to his work in The Open Curtain. It makes sense, in the way that the plot will center around (1) anticipation surrounding something awful, (2) that awful thing, (3) and the response--it centers around this awful thing, though not necessarily made up wholly of it. I’m i
Dec 09, 2010 Mariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: course-books
Not sure where to begin with this one. As other reviews have pointed it out, it has a much better set up than ending, but that's not where the real trouble is. It's too messy of a novel; messy in theme, content, and character. Predictable story, This book didn't capture me and take me just made me want it to be over.

2 stars instead of 1 on this one because Evenson really is a fairly skilled writer. Better than Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer certainly, so he deserves that credit. And li
Jared Silvia
Sep 16, 2012 Jared Silvia rated it really liked it
Rarely does an author achieve the type and extremity of tension displayed prominently in these pages. Evenson writes honestly and from experience about the challenges of young life within enclaved Mormon community, and deals frankly with extremely difficult subject matter. The psychological challenges of Rudd and Lael in this book are vivid and Evenson's approach to the topic is fresh and realistic. One might call his take on the concept an "inevitable" one. Although the plot of this book is nev ...more
Feb 27, 2011 Clumsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brian Evenson racconta nella postfazione che questo libro segna anche simbolicamente il suo reale allontanamento dalla Chiesa mormone. Ne La colpa vengono mischiate realtà e fantasia per raccontare la storia di Rudd, diciottenne della provincia dello Utah, il cui padre, uomo di chiesa, si è appena suicidato. il romanzo analizza in profondità la crescente ossessione di Rudd per un omicidio avvenuto in seno alla comunità mormone di New York a inizio Novecento, ma racconta anche il difficile rappor ...more
Taylor Wingo
Sep 08, 2016 Taylor Wingo rated it really liked it
Original, thought provoking, and unsettling.

Changes tempo halfway through which was hard to get used to. At this point the suspends builds until you realize something very horrid is going to finally come together although it was very hard to keep up with towards the end. There are a lot of symbols relating to religious ritual and violence centering around Mormonism.

Overall, I loved the subject matter. I'm a fan of creepy done right.
Feb 02, 2015 Leann rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best pieces of fiction I've read in years. Evenson's creates characters that keep the reading guessing. His use of changing perspective creates a supernatural narrative that will make your head spin, but keep you on track the entire time. He has lots of surprises right till the end.
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