cover image The Open Curtain

The Open Curtain

Brian Evenson, . . Coffee House, $14.95 (223pp) ISBN 978-1-56689-188-2

Evenson (Altmann's Tongue ) explores some controversial Mormon history in this thoughtful thriller rooted in an actual century-old murder case. When Rudd, a disaffected, fatherless Mormon teenager living in an unspecified part of Utah, discovers he has a half-brother, Lael, in suburban Provo, the two meet and embark on a strange friendship. While researching a school project, Rudd learns from a series of stories in the New York Times about a murder committed by William Hooper Young, a grandson of Brigham Young, the Mormon pioneer. In 1902, William Young was tried for, and convicted of, the murder of Anna Pulitzer. The crime cast a dark shadow on the Church of the Latter-Day Saints by exposing such arcane, perhaps doctrinal concepts as "blood atonement," a disturbing idea about the saving of a Mormon soul by shedding someone else's blood. This macabre backstory, coupled with Rudd's increasingly fractured mental state, results in a contemporary gothic tale about the apocalyptic connection between religion and violence. (Oct.)