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Fugue State

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  455 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Illustrated by graphic novelist Zak Sally, Brian Evenson’s hallucinatory and darkly comic stories of paranoia, pursuit, sensory deprivation, amnesia, and retribution rattle the cages of the psyche and peer into the gaping moral chasm that opens when we become estranged from ourselves. From sadistic bosses with secret fears to a woman trapped in a mime’s imaginary box, and ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Coffee House Press
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As my first taste of Brian Evenson's short stories, I am impressed and eager for more. I finished this days ago and did not have time to write any type of review. I returned to the book to snag some of the titles to be mentioned here and ended up reading over half of the book again, simply because it was too easy to become lost, even in stories I already knew the ending of. This is a book I will return to.

Fugue State includes a variety of stories, dabbling in different genres. There are, I thin
M Griffin
Mar 28, 2012 M Griffin rated it it was amazing
The first time I remember hearing the term "fugue state" was in association with the David Lynch film Lost Highway, in which a character detaches psychologically from life he knows, loses his very self. He drifts on through life, encountering strangers who are vaguely familiar, and tripping over circumstances which seem tenuously related to the life and self-hood he knew before.

I don't know how much Brian Evenson was inspired by Lynch's film, if at all. The characters in Fugue State encounter my
Jun 01, 2012 Aya rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Some stories are really great and haunting. But in some stories there was a lack of psychological depth. What i mean by this is that the psychology was just too simplified and not realistic to me. And also after reading some stories i detected a kind of gimmickry in his writing that bothered me. But overal i give it 4 stars as i did enjoyed the dark and surreal stories and some concepts even inspired me.
Heather Shaw
Oct 30, 2009 Heather Shaw rated it it was amazing
Brian Evenson introduces his short story, "Girls in Tents":

"When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to build blanket tents. My sister and I would take as many blankets as we could find, rearrange the furniture in the living room, and then start spreading blankets from piano to couch, couch to chair and chair to banister, holding everything precariously in place with volumes from our family encyclopedia. Then we would get inside and make up stories and enjoy the way the light lit ea
M.P. Johnson
Apr 28, 2014 M.P. Johnson rated it really liked it
Thoughtful, Twisted Horror Stories

This collection winds through a truly unique and surprising bunch of short stories. It starts with the very subtle horror that kids face when a stranger appears at the door and there are no adults to answer it. It moves on to tales post-apocalyptic killer liquids and jerky, doll-fearing publishers. It culminates magnificently in an intense zombie story. This is how horror short fiction should be done.
Nov 11, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it
I've been a fan of Brian Evenson's fiction for several years now, and as much as I thoroughly enjoyed his earlier collections of short stories, Fugue State strikes me as being the single best assembly of his output to date. Evenson has always trafficked in themes dark, morbid, and surreal, and all of those elements are present in these new stories. But there is a softening in the contents of Fugue State that allows these stories to rely less on shock value and more on character development, albe ...more
Mar 20, 2010 Benjamin rated it really liked it
I liked this book/really liked a few of the stories in this book. I liked how the book would go from something like "Girls in Tents" (a story about two girls who make blanket tents and wait for their father ultimately learning a little something about life) to "Wander" (a story set in a post-apocalyptic world about an eyeball monster who melts flesh). Brian Evenson is a legitimately versatile writer who is able to morph his style to fit the plethora of moods and vibes in this bitch. My favorite ...more
Oct 02, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it
I'm giving this book four stars because a few of the stories are really something special, although the collection as a whole probably deserves only three stars. But three stars would have been a disservice to the stories that I really liked, such as "Desire with Digressions," "Fugue State," "Ninety over Ninety," "The Third Factor," and "The Adjudicator." Most of the other stories in the book are enjoyable, so it's worth checking out. Evenson's writing is cold, brutal, and powerful, and these st ...more
Adam Rodenberger
Evenson's "Fugue State" is part Kafka, part Poe, and part psychological suburban crumble. Having never read anything by Evenson before, I was more than pleased when I finished this collection. Many of the stories are of a fantastic nature without feeling too over the top or excessive. Most of the stories feel the right length as well. Out of the whole collection, there were maybe three or four that I didn't care for while the rest I would absolutely read over again repeatedly.

And the bass playe
Aug 29, 2010 Josh rated it liked it
"Mudder Tongue" was great, but I didn't love Evenson's overall style. It reminded me of French literature translated in the 1800s. Great concepts, though, and I can see why he has gotten good reviews here. The telling just didn't click with me.
Jon Carroll  Thomas
May 23, 2013 Jon Carroll Thomas rated it it was amazing
I borrowed this from a friend over a year ago and I just read the final story before bed last night. Restlessness and weird dreams followed. There might also have been some separation anxiety. Terrific stuff.
Feb 03, 2014 Dina rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Some good ones in this collection and others felt sort of like the author poked around in his scraps folder for filler. The title story and "Ninety over Ninety" were the highlights. After just reading Evenson's book Last Days I can see he favors certain motifs and themes like post-apocalyptic messiahs and amputations. So if you're down for some mild pseudo-Borgesian/Palahniukian spookiness, give this collection a shot. It's weird and sometimes philosophical, but not to any remarkable extreme.
Randolph Carter
Dec 21, 2013 Randolph Carter rated it really liked it
Kafkaesque assembly of stories covering the usual categories of the horror genre but generally done from so unique a perspective that you almost don't realize exactly that a particular story belongs to a sub-genre. You end up saying: "I guess that was a ghost story, or I guess this is a zombie story.". It doesn't really matter because each story is so fresh and unique that categories and genres don't apply.

Evenson's prose is spare in a way that reminds me of Ligotti or sometimes Hemingway. The l
Kevin Taitz
Jun 21, 2015 Kevin Taitz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fires on all cylinders

Tight collection of stories. Superb writing, pacing, characters. Builds tension and atmosphere with the best of them. Up there with Laird Barron.
Nov 07, 2012 Jon rated it liked it
Shelves: just-for-fun
The first few stories are amazing. I took time to research some of the mental illnesses the characters were experiencing (at least the ones I inferred that they were experiencing) and it was a lot of fun. After a couple of the middle stories, that I felt were lacking, I stopped researching. At that point, the stories started to bleed together into one big, psychological gumbo. Some of the stories were great on their own merits, others I thought, failed. Overall, it was a fun book and I'm a big f ...more
Fugue State is another worthwhile collection of Evenson’s brilliant, angular, and disconcerting takes on fiction. He uses short fiction in way very few contemporaries do, Ligotti definitely comes to mind though. Beckett’s desolate spaces and comic narrators, Poe’s diseased and obsessive minds, the suffocating traps of Kafka are Evenson’s peers, but his collection of mutilations, plagues, amnesiacs, liminal spaces, and bizarre rituals are distinctly his own voice. Zak Sally the cartoonist and for ...more
Quinn Irwin
Mar 09, 2015 Quinn Irwin rated it really liked it
Overall, I enjoyed Evenson's collection Windeye a bit more, but several stories are outstanding--my favorite "Ninety Over Ninety," a story that any somewhat snobish reader of fiction will find hilarious and disturbing.
Jun 05, 2012 Sidney rated it really liked it
A while back, I let this slip aside with a few stories yet to read, but it's an excellent collection of literary horror, and I'm happy to have picked it up again and finished it. My favorites are the opening story, "Younger," about a traumatic incident in the lives of sisters, and "Ninety Over Ninety," the tale of an editor in a challenging relationship with his boss.

A few stories remind me a bit of Paul Auster, while others deal with post-Apocalyptic landscapes, but even with a few familiar tr
Dec 15, 2015 Tobi rated it liked it
Some very interesting (and some very spooky) short stories here. One or two were very 'slipstream'. I really enjoyed the title story and also the last one dedicated to Peter Straub.
Jan 31, 2016 Tammy rated it really liked it
Very good and highly recommended book of short stories. I predict I'll be scarred forever by the mime story.
Jul 04, 2014 Mii rated it it was amazing
This book is a great read!
Aug 23, 2010 Renee rated it really liked it
I wish I could give this 3 stars but some of the stories and the illustrations were amazing. I am not a short story book fan as I always feel cheated...I want the whole story not the slice they deliver. Some of these stories were real teases as they have tremendous potential to be more...but even as a glimpse they are good. Some fell flat some were amazing....typical short story book in that regard. The oddness of the writing is intriguing and I will keep my eye on Brian Evenson.
Dec 09, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: stories, 2014
Not as bowled over by this collection as I was by The Wavering Knife or Altmann's Tongue, but still full of great stuff. There's a handful of stories in here - "Girls in Tents" and the opening story - that deal with the psychological horror of very domestic situations, namely being a kid who has to act like an adult and be in charge. "Ninety Over Ninety" struck me as too insider-y and more than a little bitter, but I'm still thinking about it.
Aug 04, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
These stories are some of the eeriest I have read in a while, and that's a good thing. Reality is a dark, abstract phenomenon that eludes a complete description in the worlds of Evenson. Whether it's insanity in the city, or on some post-apocalyptic homestead, the narrator's point of view can never be trusted, and there are always questions afterwards. Good stuff!
May 08, 2013 SmarterLilac rated it liked it
Just okay. The author's style isn't really my favorite--he ties up the narrative pull with huge slabs of prose--and although he can write a decent sentence, I found the subject matter to be dry, even dull. For some reason, stuck this in the horror fiction category--it's not! I can't go much 'scarier' than heavy psychological realism here.
Dec 07, 2013 Byram rated it liked it
This book was fine. The writing overall was good, but the quality of the stories was variable and sometimes a little predictable. But they were fun stories and provided a little pathos, humor, and spookiness for some light reading. I would certainly recommend this book, but nothing groundbreaking, just good, solid reading.
Nov 10, 2015 Kellyann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Labeled as "weird" fiction, but I'd describe it as disturbing and unexpected. Most had me saying "now where is this going?" a few, strange paragraphs in. Creepy in ways that make you begin to doubt your own perceptions.
woody fanon
Jan 03, 2015 woody fanon rated it liked it
Took me more than a month to finish this collection of short stories. Not that they were terrible (because they weren't), it was more like reading a book for a University class that you sorta like but eh, forgettable.
Apr 28, 2012 Reacher rated it liked it
a nice variety of stories here. three stars instead of four only because the quality between them varies considerably. standouts for me were: Mudder Tongue, Invisible Box, An Accounting, and Helpful.
Dec 17, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
This is collection of stories that will shake you. They are often strange, haunting and frustrating, making their place where you are uncomfortable, where you cannot bear to look any longer.
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“There is, in every event, whether lived or told, always a hole or a gap, often more than one. If we allow ourselves to get caught in it, we find it opening onto a void that, once we have slipped into it, we can never escape.” 29 likes
“Anything can happen: anything. Or nothing. Who can say? The world, monstrous, is made that way, and in the end consumes us all. Who am I, administrated or no, to have the audacity to survive it?” 14 likes
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