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A Collapse of Horses

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,284 ratings  ·  201 reviews
A stuffed bear's heart beats with the rhythm of a dead baby; Reno keeps receding to the east no matter how far you drive; and in a mine on another planet, the dust won't stop seeping in.

In these stories, Brian Evenson unsettles us with the everyday and the extraordinary—the terror of living with the knowledge of all we cannot know.
Paperback, 220 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Coffee House Press (first published January 18th 2016)
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Johnathan I definitely don’t know the significance of the black bark, but it seems to me that it is like many things in these stories: something that is never e…moreI definitely don’t know the significance of the black bark, but it seems to me that it is like many things in these stories: something that is never explained, and therefore scarier because it’s a mystery. However, I did think that the story of the black bark (how even when he tried to throw it away, it ended up in his pocket) bore a striking resemblance to the creepy teddy bear in “BearHeart.” (less)

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T.E. Grau
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I recently attended a Brian Evenson reading held at Skylight Books in the appropriately understated, enduringly cool east Hollywood enclave of Los Feliz. During the Q & A session after he read his latest collection's titular piece, Evenson shared a personal story that had occurred in a parking garage just days before. As he was walking to his car one afternoon, he noticed a fluttering object up ahead of him, trapped in the corner of the structure, that appeared to be a distressed bird most likel ...more
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
5 word review (not counting these words here, hidden in the parenthesis, but these stories were so weird and disturbing and burrowing, yes, burrowing, inside, inside you.)

Loved it. And blurbed it.

Here's my blurb!

“Brian Evenson's collection A Collapse of Horses is equal parts Franz Kafka, J. G. Ballard, Sam Peckinpah, and George Miller's Mad Max. His apocalyptic and paranoid stories are as ontological as they are disquieting, creating a remarkable unity of effect, a timeless yet recognizably tw
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've made no secret of the fact that I love Brian's work; both his non-fiction and his fiction. I've published his work myself not once, but twice. I've only had the chance to meet him in person once, many years ago, but have had correspondence with him off and on for a long time now. He even let me have the honor of accepting the International Horror Guild Award on his behalf when he couldn't make it to a convention I was attending. So I might be a little biased. But only a little; even if he a ...more
If Children of the New World: Stories is reminiscent of Black Mirror, A Collapse of Horses is more of a slightly grown-up, less-resolved version of the Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark stories many of us enjoyed growing up.

There are few, if any, stories in here that would be unsuitable for teenage readers, and somehow we are offered a collection that is both predictable and confusing at the same time. These stories don’t have a solid resolution, leaving it up to the reader to decide, bu
David Agranoff
I once went to Powell's in Portland with the purpose of bringing home several Brian Evenson books. I had gone to reading he had done at Powells a few weeks earlier and didn't have money that night. I went to the horror section and couldn't find it. He had done a reading there the week before, you think they would have it. So I looked him up on the catalog. Literature. I'll be damned. I mean anyone reading my blog knows that I feel the genre ghetto is really a false wall, but I was surprised by t ...more
G. Brown
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of literary horror, surreal horror, atypical bizarro
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: latent schizophrenics

I don’t read short stories as often as novels, and I don’t really know how reviewers typically go about analyzing them. But I do remember an assignment in a personality psych class for which we (the students) each had to choose ten pictures (from magazines, newspapers, etc.) ‘at random’, and write a very brief story about each one. After we’d done this, we were to read over the stories and decide if there were any common themes or ideas that we hadn't been aware of while writing. Sure enough the
Autumn Christian
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, literary
A quiet, panicked take on horror - Brian Evenson's short stories are filled to the brim with dark water - possibilities spilling out past the corners of the pages. His stories are the kind that produce short-breathed, cosmic questions, and are masterful at provoking anxiety by not answering them. Favorites were 'Black Bark', 'The Dust', "BearHeart(TM)', 'A Collapse of Horses,' and 'The Blood Drip'
Ben Loory
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Black Bark," where have you been all my life?
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brian Evenson's astonishing new collection from Coffee House Press, A Collapse of Horses, coincides with the re-release of three previous works: the much heralded novels Father of Lies, Open Curtain and Last Days. Each cover depicts an illustration of part of a creature that when taken together form a beast that doesn't exist.

There's an apt metaphor here, but a misleading one. While these stories have all the earmarks of Evenson's fiction with varying degrees of violence, horror and dread, A Col
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Solid collection of strange stories, mostly of the quiet but unsettling kind. Ambiguity abounds. There were a couple stories that I didn't get at all, but overall I really enjoyed it.
Claire Phillips
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and disturbing, Evenson's latest is a textbook example of "the uncanny" and "fantastic hesitation." This collection successfully expands upon the familiar trope of the double through the bookended stories "Black Bark" and "The Blood Drip:" tales of a guilty descent into insanity for two men on the run. Characters suffer from mental afflictions such as hallucinations, paranoia, social anxiety, schizophrenia, brainwashing, and Capgras Syndrome. "Past Reno" and "Cult" are psychologically ...more
Steven Peck
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Simply one of the best short story collections I've read in a long time. Deeply uncanny. These unlocked places in my mind that have not been traversed before and twisted some well-visited places in such surprising ways. There was not a miss in this collection, and some of them greatly unnerved my sense of comfort. In short, I'll be reading more Evenson. I did not think Logotti had any contenders on my horror short story list. It does now.

P.S. 'The Dust' is worth the price of the book alone.
*Just the title story.*

On the surface seemingly about paranoia, perception and Schrodinger’s cat. Hints of the narrator being trapped, suffocating in his own mind after an accident or breakdown. Also (maybe) an unreliable narration. This effects an overwhelming sense of a freefall, a lack of anchor.

I smiled all the way through imagining meaning, so many off-shooting possibilities. There seems a danger of trivialising or breaking it down into functional parts, not stepping back far enough to see
David Bridges
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As far as I am concerned Evenson is one of the greats. In my book not many can write such consistently dark thought provoking literature either in the form of a novel or short fiction. A Collapse Of Horses is no exception. There is no point in comparing Brian Evenson to other authors but I guess I can compare this book to some of his previous works that I have read. A Collapse Of Horses seem to have less in your face violence (though the violence is still there) and tread more on unsettled bewil ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite short story collection by Brian Evenson, who is also one of my favorite writers.

The "pièce-de-résistance" in A COLLAPSE OF HORSES is a 50-pages murder mystery featuring space miners titled The Dust where a condemned crew are turning into one another. It's one of the many man-against-nature fatalistic pieces in this collection. Others I enjoyed were: Past Reno, The Blood Drip and Scour, which all pit defenseless protagonist against the collapse of their environment. Another story I re
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-lit
Some people say Evenson is the new Lovecraft, a modern heir to Poe, the best psychological terror writer in decades. Well, I think that even after a full creative writing program at Miskatonic University he would not be allowed to clean the master's boots! This book is a collection of highly irregular short stories, some of them pretty good (e.g "The Dust", "Bear Heart") but the majority is just a series of shallow suspense exercises with reasonable plot ideas but that should be much more worked ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
There's a certain type of Emily Dickinson poem (I Heard a Fly Buzz when I Died, I Felt a Funeral in My Brain) that explores the edge of consciousness, of articulation--of life, sanity. The mind strains to wrap itself around the text even as it wonders whether this is such a good idea, whether the exhilarating effort to make sense of the page won't result in the very opposite: sense falling apart.

That state of mind--that vertiginous, upsetting verge--is where Evenson has chosen to pitch his tent
Text Publishing
‘Evenson’s fiction is stark and often jaw-droppingly funny…Some of the stories here evoke Kafka, some Poe, some Beckett, some Roald Dahl, and one, a demonic teddy-bear chiller called “BearHeart™” even Stephen King, but Evenson’s deadpan style always estranges them a bit from their models: He tells his odd tales oddly, as if his mouth were dry and the words won’t come out right.’
New York Times

‘There is not a more intense, prolific or apocalyptic writer of fiction in America than Brian Evenson.’
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What a wonderful collection of short stories. They manage to be thought-provoking, engaging and entertaining.

Overall they were quite disturbing, exploiting the darkest corners of the human mind, and really got under my skin. Some struck me as almost psychedelic and/or nightmarish. They were not only quite philosophical but also just plain insane and my oh my there were so many types of insanity.

As in all anthologies there were stories I liked better than
M Griffin
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Collapse of Horses is yet another impressive book by Brian Evenson, a writer whose every book seems to be a must-read. These are stories of the confusion of cause and effect, the bewilderment of misplaced or altered identity, and the slippage of what's real. The obvious point of reference here is Kafka, but I think I sense a bit of Donald Barthelme and more than a little Russell Edson. Everything Evenson does is fantastic, so just buy all his books and read them all.
Venus Maneater
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Horror to ponder on. To discuss with friends. To dream about. If you value traditional storytelling, this collection might not be your jam.

But if you're open to explore horror outside of the standard narrative; try this. I find the scenarios described thrilling and scary and exciting. Wanna read MORE
Teresa Cervera
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Favorites: seaside town, the dust, Bearheart, past Reno, Click, black bark, the blood drip
Pedro Proença
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Saying Brian Evenson is the new HP Lovecraft is an insult, to Evenson.
He's so much better than ol' Howie lol
Benjamin Bryan
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the tone of these stories. Evenson has a distinctive voice that efficiently carries your mind to dark and mysterious places. My only complaint relates to some stylistic issues in the text. Particularly with dialog tags and italicized thoughts. Was a bit distracting . . .
Matt Lewis
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What works about Evenson's unique approach to horror is the fact that his stories exist as elegant contradictions. They all occupy the same plane of unease on which the writing of Lovecraft use to be, in a time before there were cthulu stuffed animals and coffee mugs. Unlike Lovecraft, however, the creeping unknown which haunts the characters is not defined as an ancient, utterly alien outside force. Evenson's characters are haunted by a primal anxiety that is all too familiar, something each of ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Few things are as distressing as uncertainty and Brian Evenson, author of Windeye and Last Days, is a master of asking just the right kinds of terrifying questions. The protagonists of most of the stories in this collection are caught up in unbearable struggles between their fragile reality and their betrayed perceptions. Is the narrator of “Past Reno” getting closer to his foreboding destination or driving in circles? Are the narrators of “A Report” and “Scour” trapped in the same prison, where ...more
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i was already an Evenson fan before this, but A Collapse of Horses sends him into a different level for me. He's the writer that makes you want to write. Scour your brain for ideas and breathe them onto paper. I'm not exaggerating when I say he's a crucial voice for our generation. Devoid of politics, religion, and social norms, he crafts stories that are just that. Stories. Universes on their own. There are things he writes that I don't understand and some that I understand all too clearly. My ...more
Caleb Ross
A Brian Evenson collection is unlike any other. You're looking for something new, something to move you, something that makes you feel uncomfortable yet in doing so reminds you just how human you are. You're looking for a Brian Evenson story.
Ryan Bradford
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stunning and frightening. Who would've thought one of the scariest books I've read in a long time would also be the most philosophical? Complex ideas on memory and the self make their way into about every one of these stories. But that doesn't keep them from being utterly unsettling.
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