Brian Evenson is an evil man. “Las Days” is the first book I’ve read that makes me feel dirty for liking it (and not *sexy* dirty, but like I had eateBrian Evenson is an evil man. “Las Days” is the first book I’ve read that makes me feel dirty for liking it (and not *sexy* dirty, but like I had eaten something from the trash), and yet I can’t help but feel that this is a remarkable piece of fiction. I hate you Mr. Evenson. Where were you when I had to explain to my mother what this book was about without making her think about all the things she had done wrong regarding my moral education? And how could you blame her? I mean, really, how sick do you have to be to enjoy a story as twisted and disturbing as the one narrated in “Last Days? And how do you tell a loved one that your current source of entertainment involves a smart mockery of religious hierarchy that makes you want to read it and bleach your brain at the same time?
That was a distinct feeling I got while reading “Last Days”: a growing sense of disgust mixed with the knowledge that I couldn’t stop reading, not even if I wanted to. In case you’re still curious, the book begins with the ineffective attempts of a private detective to survive a case of severe depression, generated by a rather unfortunate confrontation with a “gentlemen with the cleaver” that led to the chopping of his right hand. In the middle of this personal crisis he’s approached by two… hum… “Peculiar” men, who seem to believe that the detective’s misfortune makes him uniquely qualified to take care of a mystery their brotherhood is facing. The personal characteristics of these two individuals, added to the nature of the group they belong to and the hesitation of our protagonist to get involved with them, make for a very compelling read that also presents a strong comment on the evils that religious fundamentalism can unleash on the world.
A part of me wants to talk long and deep about the many, many factors that made “Last Days” so disturbing for me, but I don’t want to rob anyone of the chance of discovering them for themselves. There is a lot to feel uncomfortable about in this novel (I’ll never think about the idea of a strip-tease in the same way again) and I think that it has a lot to do with our sense of self-preservation, and our refusal to even consider other lifestyles that would willingly harm it. What made it all worse for me, however, was realizing that groups such as the ones depicted here could actually exist; there are already so many people willing to take their faith to new and crazy heights by means of interpreting religious texts in rigorous ways that, well, the possibility of a real “brotherhood of mutilation” doesn’t require such a stretch of imagination, and that's a pretty scary thought.
In conclusion, I don’t regret reading “Last Days” at all, even if now I’m forced to wash down the unpleasant images it left on my mind with tons of fluffy romances and happy endings. Brain Evenson has won a fan and I plan to read more of his books in the future, with a good dose of pretty unicorns and kitties on the side. ...more
I came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a tryI came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a try and what would you know? That little investment turned into a couple of hours well spent. The stories in “Fierce as the Grave” are short, twisted, and greatly increased my desire to read some of Hornor’s longer work.
“Verrata”, the first tale, takes place in futuristic New Orleans that is far from being ideal. Hornor takes ghosts to the next level here, and introduces lots of elements that were confusing at first but made “Verrata” memorable in the end.
“Heaven of Animals” is a mix between zombies and the Wild West. It was my least favorite, perhaps because I needed a few more pages to really feel something for the characters. If you happen to like zombies, however, this one is definitely for you.
“Bone China” is the story of two women, a birthday celebration and a family reunion. It’s by far my favorite tale from this book; it’s set in the South and the atmosphere really shines through the text, which just makes it all that much creepier.
In “Sneaking in” a small town kid learns that every action has a consequence. This tale marks the end of the collection and it left me wanting more, which I guess was Hornor’s intent from the beginning. The creepiness here, to me, lies not in the supernatural element, but in the protagonist’s system of beliefs, that justifies abuse as long as you can get away with it.
Overall, “Fierce as the Grave” is one solid collection, and if you have the time to spare, a great read. ...more