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Fugue State Paperback – 1 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press (1 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566892252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566892254
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.8 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 527,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

"Brilliant...Evenson manages to capture madness with a masterful tone. The specific genius o"f Fugue Sta"te rests in subtlety, in Evenson's ability to maintain suspense, dread and paranoia through utter linguistic control.""--Time Out New York""""19 satisfying and surreal stories...packed with subtly hilarious sentences."--"Cleveland Plain Dealer""Brian Evenson is one of the treasures of American story writing, a true successor both to the generation of Coover, Barthelme, Hawkes and Co., but also to Edgar Allan Poe."--Jonathan Lethem"The stories in this collection will thrill, unsettle, and captivate. Like lanterns in dark rooms, paper boats carried down on subterranean waters, they lead the reader into mysterious and perilous territory. Read at your own risk."--Kelly LinkIllustrated 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 from a post-apocalyptic misidentified Messiah to unwitting portraitists of the dead, the mind-bending world of this modern-day Edgar Allan Poe exposes the horror contained within our daily lives.Brian Evenson is the author of the Edgar and International Horror Guild award-nominated novel "The Open Curtain." Visit his website at

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DRFP on 2 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
From my reading experiences horror is probably the toughest genre to succeed in. It's much more suited to a TV or cinema screen where you can combine emotions with visuals and sound. I can count on one hand the number of times literature has genuinely managed to unnerve me (and that's not quite the same as scaring).

To be honest, I don't think much of the likes of Ligotti, an author who gets touted as the best writer of horror currently in existence (though perhaps only because Ligotti's collections seem so hit and miss from the ones I've read). None the less, Evenson, even if he doesn't match Ligotti when he's at his best, still gives a good showing here. These stories are uniformly pretty good. I don't think any in particular stand out as stronger or weaker than the rest, they're all solid. None of them made me uncomfortable when reading them but Evenson creates a good atmosphere throughout each and his prose is nice and direct.

Nothing revelatory then but I think Evenson does a good job with a very tough genre and I wouldn't mind reading more of his output.
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Format: Paperback
"I had, Bentham claimed, fallen into a sort of fugue state, in which the world moved past me more and more rapidly, a kind of blur englobing me at every instant."

The most mature work from Evenson to date, the stories nestle against each other perfectly. Less shocking horror, more haunting, these tales are comic, bizzare, cathartic but always chilling. Connected through a theme of dissociation these 19 stories are shot through with isolation, jarring events and the disintegration of self. One of my favourites deals with two sisters and one insignificant childhood event, forgotten by one who just cannot understand why the other is so traumatised. Evenson's expertly crafted language ensures this simple tale is deeply evocative. However it is in complete contrast to my other favourite: Fugue State, a cold, clever ,circular tale with an arresting plot that superbly epitomises its title. A highly recommend it for all fans of dark tales.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
among his best 31 July 2010
By C. Manucy - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ever since I read "Mudder Tongue" in McSweeney's quarterly, which is included in this collection, Brian Evenson has been one of my favorite authors. I've since read the story collection Altman's Tongue, and two of his novels, The Open Curtain, and Last Days.

His stories are often grim or violent, yet not gratuitous, and leavened by a quirky sense of humor. From the first sentence, he can grab the reader and pull them into a hypnotic world--which lingers after the story is done. Evenson has an amazing ability to take a very good story and turn it into a great story within a paragraph at the end, as he does in "The Accounting". His collection, Fugue State, is highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A literate, fascinating, unsettling, and eerie successor to Edgar Allan Poe 10 Nov. 2011
By Josh Mauthe - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Evenson's work ever since reading the surreal, nightmarish Last Days, and Fugue State is just another reminder why that fandom is justified. Describing Evenson's beautiful and oddly unsettling prose is hard to do - it's like some fusion of Cormac McCarthy and Edgar Allan Poe, with emphasis on Poe's unreliably fractured narration and the psychological turning of the screws he so enjoyed. Fugue State is, in some ways, the "easiest" of Evenson's collections I've read; the stories are generally more straightforward, but even so, reality is hard to come by in Evenson's work, and sanity even harder. The stories here take on everything from a reluctant post-apocalyptic cult leader (the pitch-black religious satire "An Accounting") to a plague of amnesia (the unsettling and surreal "Fugue State"), and whatever the subject, Evenson has a way of provoking responses from the reader you'll never expect. Look, for example, as "Invisible Box," a story about a woman whose one-night stand with a mime leaves her convinced that he's left his invisible box at her house. The story sounds like it should be funny (and, to be fair, parts of it made me laugh out loud), but Evenson manages to take the situation and craft a story of a woman losing her mind out of it, ending on a creepily ambiguous note that sucks all the whimsy from the situation. Others, like "Alfons Kuylers," feel like a Poe story he never wrote, all the way to the chilling slow burn as both the reader and the character start to understand exactly what's going on. With his perfect prose, psychological games, and unsettling imagery, Evenson is a literary horror writer like no other, and it saddens me that so much of his work goes without notice right now. It's unlikely you'll ever read much like Evenson; if you haven't started, jump in now.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ambitious, intelligent and resolutely weird 30 Mar. 2012
By M. Griffin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 mysteries, and in most cases undergo some kind of shift or dislocation of personality. Sometimes the characters are lost, while the reader is allowed insight into the character's plight, and at other times the reader is equally mystified. This obliqueness is intentional, not a matter of poor craft, of stories lacking somehow. When an author gives the reader such a large helping of absurdity, of disconnection and illogic, the reader must determine whether the effects are in the service of a coherent artistic intention, or if the storyteller is himself lost, or just goofing around. Evenson's stories always convey not only willful intention, but consummate craft.

There may be no more than a thin line between the pointlessly nonsensical and the profoundly obscure, or resonantly absurd. Storytellers like Kafka and Borges, not to mention David Lynch, manage to test the limits of what their audience may consider meaningful without every straying over that aforementioned line.

These stories vary dramatically in length, from 2-page snippets to the 30-page title novella. Fugue State straddles the boundary between experimental literary fiction and genres such as weird fantasy, horror and slipstream. The writing here has the flavor of edgy-yet-mainstream literature, but in these stories weird things occur as in Poe, Kafka and the like. Just as with the other authors I've mentioned by name, Brian Evenson's work is not for everyone. These mysterious and intelligent fictions don't always give answers, but rather stimulate some hidden, unknowable aspect of the subconscious. Those who like this kind of thing - Kafka, Borges, even David Lynch's Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive - will love Fugue State.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great bunch of short stories 15 Nov. 2011
By P. Duval - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be dark and interesting. Themes of paranoia, amnesia, and loss abound. Lots of fun. Also, the short stories provide a lot of flexibility if you don't have a ton of time to read, while maintaining a constant theme throughout.
Thoughtful, Twisted Horror Stories 28 April 2014
By MP Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
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