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FICTION

ALTMANN’S TONGUE: Stories and a Novella by Brian Evenson (Knopf: $22; 239 pp.) The word “Stories” in the title is misleading. With several exceptions, Brian Evenson’s unusual first collection consists not of narratives but of moods. Black, brutal moods, relentlessly bleak, stark in content, surreal in form: A son kills his father by stuffing angry bees down his gullet, for example. There is a talent here, an eldritch one, oozing without remorse from the subconscious of the author--who, curiously is a pillar of the Mormon church, a bishop, father of two, a teacher at Brigham Young University. The writing is cryptic but satisfying, and probably Evenson’s calling, once the macabre in him has melted down.


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