Olsen reviews Evenson’s The Open Curtain

Lance Olsen has both kind and important things to say here about Brian Evenson’s new novel The Open Curtain:

…Initially, The Open Curtain seems a mimetic departure from Evenson’s earlier avant-gothic fiction. Toward the end of the first of three sections that comprise the novel, however, Rudd begins to experience unnerving blackouts and temporal disruptions that unhinge the apparently traditional narrative tactics at play. The second section jarringly changes point of view to Lyndi, a teenager whose parents have been murdered in a gruesome ritual killing in which Rudd seems to be implicated. As Rudd and she move toward marriage, the narrative further disrupts, and by the third section it becomes clear that each movement in its architectonics has essentially troubled and unwritten the preceding one. The final section flickers between realities, histories, and cleaving selves, transforming what at first may have seemed a traditional murder mystery into a mystery of ontology and epistemology, a novel about undoing “realistic” novels, and an extended investigation into the inexorable violence and blindness shot through Mormon culture.

We have returned, in other words, to all that makes Evenson’s fiction so engaging, accomplished, and consequential. In its impulse to investigate the rich possibility spaces between genres, that fiction transforms and extends our notion of what narrative is and what it can be and do. Its clean, understated, even rationalist prose is in constant tension with its transgressive content, its resonant irony and unexpected humor, its unblinking examination of psychological and narratological instability…

I’m looking forward to reading this myself.


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