cover image Windeye


Brian Evenson. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-56689-298-8

Both smartly referential and admirably distinct in voice, this collection of literary horror stories is also plagued by unevenness. The shades of Poe, Lovecraft, and the brothers Grimm are palpable, inflecting stories like “Dapplegrim,” about a boy and the supernaturally powerful horse he inherits, or “Tapadera,” a gruesomely literal “Tell-Tale Heart.” Chilling imagery—from the mysterious, possibly malevolent house in the title story to the pagan cave world of “Grottor”—bores under the skin and stays there. These are stories of madness told from the inside, and they often read like dreams; logic and time dissolve as the world distorts and narrows. The collection’s distracting inconsistency is forgivable, maybe even preferable, when it brings shifts in tone, from gothic to Hitchcockian, or fairy-tale to ghost story. But there are too often bewildering leaps and too many stories of lesser quality, such as the baffling “Bon Scott: The Choir Years,” in which a music journalist discovers the AC/DC singer’s Mormon leanings. Agent: Matt McGowan, Frances Goldin Literary Agency. (June)