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Fugue State

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  602 Ratings  ·  70 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, 205 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
May 05, 2011 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
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, dark-strange
Wow! This author's writing caught me from the first paragraph. Naturally, some stories were better than others, but the strong writing always carried me along. The earlier stories were better than the later ones but the book managed to maintain an utterly compelling atmosphere throughout, with some surprisingly dark humour thrown in.

My favourite ones were, in no particular order: 1) A Pursuit 2) An Accounting 3) Mudder Tongue 4) Ninety Over Ninety. Will definitely be reading more of Brian Evenso
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Όσο προχωρώ στην βιβλιογραφία του Έβενσον πιστεύω πως πρόκειται για μια πραγματικά σπάνια περίπτωση συγγραφέα. Δεν εντάσσεται εύκολα κάπου σύμφωνα με τις σημερινές τάσεις, πράμα για το οποίο δεν φαίνεται να σκοτίζεται ιδιαίτερα ο ίδιος. Ωστόσο του στοιχίζει μια μεγαλύτερη αποδοχή που θα μπορούσε να βρει και θα του άξιζε.

Οι ανησυχίες του εστιάζουν στον τρόμο: στο αλλόκοτο, στο εφιαλτικό που εδράζει πίσω από τις λοξές γωνίες υπό τις οποίες προβάλει τις διάφορες πραγματικότητες στις ιστορίες. Και π
Sentimental Surrealist
Brian Evenson is great in small doses. Take the short story "Altmann's Tongue." It might seem like I'm damning him with faint praise by declaring his best piece a paragraph-long microstory, but that paragraph has beguiled me since 17. If the nonetheless-true "quality over quantity" cliche isn't enough to placate you, this collection's title story is magnificent in its creepiness, and there are a number of other good ones around here, too, from "Pursuit's" implied comeuppance to the eerie display ...more
Nov 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another incredible collection. Ranks up there with Wavering Knife.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mike by: Amina
Evenson writes from an extreme distance, which works with the post-apocalyptic settings and the paranoia/schizophrenia mindset of some of the stories--it's compelling (while reading, but not terribly memorable) stuff, chilling, very well written. But that same distance results in a lack of vividness for me (all the stories merge into one another, into a sort of grey streak) and a complete lack of characterization. Not a fault really, as it's certainly intentional, but the result is that the stuf ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was blown away when read Evenson's collection "Windeye" a little over a year ago. That collection was published about three years after this one and I think the stories in "Windeye" are more accomplished and show a more matured style.

That said there's still a lot of great work here. "Alfons Kuylers," "The Adjudicator," "Girls in Tents," "Fugue State," and "Ninety Over Ninety" are all excellent stories. "The Third Factor," "In the Greenhouse," "Bauer in the Tyrol," and "Younger" are quite good
May 08, 2012 rated it 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.
M.P. Johnson
Apr 28, 2014 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.
Heather Shaw
Oct 30, 2009 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
Nov 11, 2011 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
Randolph Carter
Aug 08, 2012 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
Mar 14, 2010 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
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
Sep 03, 2009 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 23, 2010 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
Jan 11, 2013 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.
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2009
Shifting identities, blindness, plagues, and altered perceptions -- and perhaps the most sinister story about mimes ever written.
The Literary Chick
Uneven collection, but when he strikes home he's mind blowing.
Steve Mayberry
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Great in parts. Loved the first story, liked that he included a graphic short-story in the middle to break things up... but overall the collection sagged. He revisits settings, tropes, characters, etc and rather than feeling like variations on a theme, they start to feel repetitive. Exacerbated by the fact that a few of the stories -- the driver being chased by three ex-wives, the Alzheimer-zombie apocalypse, maybe one other -- go on well beyond what is necessary (and then the second-to-last was ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was glad to have finished it so that I could begin to enjoy it. Several tales were genuinely artful; stitched together, to however ambiguous an end Evenson deemed suitable. Some were too obvious to grab me, a couple managed to get me clutching the cover in wonderment. A mixed bag, for sure. In fee stories did Evenson's style propel the plot, but more often than not, I caught myself thinking how poorly it fit, how could I keep reading in good faith.
Sunil Kumar
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Brian Evenson is interested in the limitations of human understanding and our futile attempt at trying to understand the world around us using our primitive faculties that are woefully inappropriate for the job. All of the stories are based around this fundamentally human, but ultimately very limited thematic material. So it's not a surprise that Evenson runs out of things to say towards the end of the collection. It's still pretty amazing though.
J.R. McLemore
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Based on the synopsis, I was expecting some stories that delved deep into dread and paranoia, leaving me feeling unsettled. Unfortunately, the stories weren't very interesting and the ones that were didn't have enough substance to counterbalance the stories that didn't. My biggest gripe is that Evenson had some good ideas that were, in my opinion, very poorly executed.
Seda Ozaltan
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Evenson is clearly a genius. Especially his short stories on little children have impressed me so much that I'm about to make a short film inspired by them.
Tucker Stone
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book.
Bradley Ernst
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fugue State by Brian Evenson
Brian Evenson

Ever broken floss between your molars and not been able to get it out? Tried with more floss, but just bungled up the thing a bit more? That's how uneasy Fugue State made me feel. The unicorn of the psychological world. As interesting a pathological phenomenon as our brains can conjure—and Brian Evenson captures it.

Here is a collection of short stories designed to make one feel unbalanced. Some seem futuristic, others are dystopian, yet others complete whacko disconnects that seem
Aug 07, 2012 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
Feb 09, 2011 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
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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.” 34 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?” 15 likes
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