If you’re like me, whenever you start to read a new story or novel, a slick-haired-pressed-shirt-energy-drink-sipping Hollywood agent in your brain sits down behind an over designed desk made of glass and stainless steel, listlessly listening to the pitch while tapping away at a Blackberry, occasionally barking into the Bluetooth in his ear. If he doesn’t hear the 5 crucial elements of storytelling within the first 5 minutes then he gets bored and annoyed and pushes a flashing red button on the underside of his desk, which causes you to throw the book across the room or delete the text file and move on to something more interesting. I don’t know if this comes from being an editor for the past three years and having to sift through a lot of bad writing, for which I have little tolerance. But the agent has become something of a problem when I sit down to read an author like Brian Evenson.
Evenson forces the agent to slow down. He swats the Blackberry out of the agent’s hand, flicks the Bluetooth from his ear, dumps the latte out on his head. Not in one swift motion though, it’s a slow assault. One by one. When Evenson starts telling a story he plucks the agent from his high rise corner office and drops him into a dark labyrinth, where the only choice he has is to follow Evenson, and the only certainty is that it’s going to get darker.
This makes Fugue State a maddening read at times. Evenson plays on a reader’s expectations and natural desire for a clear storyline by sending them on an inwardly spiraling journey into insanity and paranoia. The characters often don’t know that there’s an irreversible, life-altering change chugging toward them like a freight train, until it’s too late. Characters trade places, become the people that they despise and fear most. They let darkness take hold of them until they forget who they are and who they were. If you’ve ever know anyone who’s lost their memory you know it doesn’t get much more terrifying than that.