Awhile back, Matt Bell told me The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories was a must have fiction anthology. I recently purchased it and (admittedly slowly) been working my way through it.
Today, I read "Two Brothers" by Brian Evenson, a shocking twenty-something pager in four sections that involves two brothers (obviously), a rough take on worship/religion, and some serious writing.
Here is a paragraph (p. 296):
Theron steadied Aurel against the side of the house and leveled the air rifle at the dog's head. the dog sniffed at the muzzle, licked the tip of it, tried to pass under it. Theron pushed the barrel flush against the dog's forehead. Closing his eyes, he shot.
I kind of felt like this dog after each section of this book. I also kind of felt like Theron as I turned each page. As I recollected the story, I kind of felt like Aurel, like someone had leaned me against the house and I was watching this all, replaying it in my mind.
For me, I felt like I had some idea, once the story got rolling where it was going, but I didn't seem to care and I certainly wasn't any less shocked when it went from scene to scene. Rather, I was completely engaged in the page.
This story is full of religion/worship metaphors. Missing eyes. Wandering in a large house. Getting naked. Evenson layers these things in such a way to not make them lame or too critical, but rather perfectly shocking and impactful.
I've heard quite a bit about Evenson, but I can honestly say this is the first piece of his work that I've read. I can honestly say it won't be the last.