When Rudd Theurer, a high schooler whose father has committed suicide, embarks on a school project, he stumbles upon
a series of newspaper articles from the early 20th century chronicling a vicious murder committed by a grandson of Mormon
leader Brigham Young. Delving deeply into the Mormon ritual of blood sacrifice that seems the basis of the murder,
Rudd, along with his newly discovered half-brother, Lael, becomes swept up in the psychological and atavistic
effects of a century old ritual killing.
As the past and the present become an increasingly tangled knot, Rudd is found at the scene of a multiple
murder at a remote campsite, severly injured and comatose, but alive. When, months later, he regains consciousness,
Lyndi, the daughter of the victims, tries to help him recover his memory and, together, they find a strength
unique to survivors of terrible tragedies. But Rudd, desperate to protect Lyndi and unable to let the past be
still, tries to manipulate their Mormon wedding ceremony to trick the priests (and God) by giving himself and
Lyndi new secret names-names that match the killer and the victim in the one hundred-year-old murder. The
nightmare has just begun . . .
"Whenever I try to describe the resonant and disturbing literature
that Horror, whether acknowledged or not, lately has found itself
capable of producing, I find myself alluding to Brian Evenson, along
with Graham Joyce and a few others: of these splendid younger
writers, Evenson places himself furthest out on the sheerest, least
sheltered narrative precipice—narrative at the far edge of
narrative possibility—where he can speak clearly and plainly of loss, violence, and pain.
THE OPEN CURTAIN is, very simply, a stunning book."
"Brian Evenson is one of the most distinguished, probing, and courageous writers of his generation. His work has never flinched from addressing the most difficult, dangerous issues, and with The Open Curtain he leads us into a world few have lived in specifically, but resonates in all our lives. Family, secrecy, truth, anger, history, the desire to belong, the need to discover oneself—all these fundamentals are the grist in the mill of Evenson's marvelous, disturbing novel."
""The final fifty pages of Brian Evenson's new novel, The Open Curtain, contain some of the most stunning and virtuosic fiction I have ever read. Seriously."
—Andrew Ervin, in The Believer
"...one of the year's creepiest and most resonant thrillers."
—Time Out New York
"It bears remarkable similarities to Salman Rushdie’s masterfully dense novel of partitions, marriages and Pakistan, Shame.... It is a superbly well crafted thriller, which is not weighed down by pretension."
"The final section of The Open Curtain is a virtuostic tour-de-force. It may be the finest sustained piece of writing to come along in years.... If Jim Thompson were alive today he'd want to write a novel like this."
—Brian Lindenmuth, Fantasy Book Spot
"The Open Curtain is one of those books that you want to tell people about....absolutely riveting...."
—The Elegant Variation
"...wonderfully strange, mesmerizing, eerie page-turner of a novel... We watch and hold our breath as Evenson leads us down dark paths into the darker underbrush of the human mind."
—The Providence Journal
"You get the sense that Evenson could extract a horror story from the Rockette's Christmas Spectactular, but his latest novel, in which a Mormon youth becomes enthralled with a ritualistic murder, makes a highly engaging beeline for mayhem.... the coup is in the final act, in which the antihero's shapshifting sense of reality escalates into the year's most mindtweaking fit of writing."
—Michael Miller, Time Out New York's "The Best (and Worst) of 2006"
""[A] shocking novel of murder and madness... produces scintillating sparks.... As the action progresses, Evenson compellingly spells out what it means to be a truly lost soul. "
—The Washington Post
"Brian Evenson's worlds are so bleak that that word buckles like a steel beam in a collapsing building, wholly insufficient to bear the full existential, metaphysical, and literary weight of his achievement.... This is a tremendous, harrowing novel; an utter pleasure to be beguiled and terrified by. "
"...a writer so good you want to tell your friends about him, but don't because you're afraid of what they might think of you.... Evenson's sure hand with pacing allow[s] him to create gorgeous, disturbing scenes that generate a feeling of growing panic that never feels cheap or forced."
"...one of his generation's most arresting, invigorating and, yes, frightening writers."
—Time Out Chicago
"The terror evoked by this novel grew exponentially for me.... This novel is Lynch's Blue Velvet staged behind Provo [Utah]'s white picket fences."
"Evenson (Altmann's Tongue) explores some controversial Mormon history in this thoughtful thriller rooted in an actaul century-old murder case.... A contemporary gothic tale about the apocalyptic connection between religion and violence. "
"The Mormon angle is not what is most interesting about this uncompromising novel; instead, it's the convincing portrayal of a disturbed young man pushed to the breaking point by social isolation and religious extremism.... A stark portrait of teenage alienation for sophisticated readers."
"A very serious, very cold look at the issue of violence in Mormon history and its pernicious effect on a modern life."
"The writing is accesible, naturalistic on the highest level, and the imagery, depicting the various malignancies and altering states of interpsychic consciousness that Rudd experiences, is wholly idiosyncratic and yet clarifying. Indeed, very few contemporary novelists can take a narrative into such dark and ominous places and still give the reader a plot line that keeps him turning the page in the proverbial manner of a best-seller.... The Open Curtain is written with insight, multi-layered characterizations and linguistic mastery, all of which makes for a completely original work."
—The Green Integer Review