Lit Seen: Max G. Morton’s Apocalypse Junkyard; Brian Evenson on Last Days

Talking magic and the morning after with a New York exile; The Brotherhood of Mutilation returns.

Evenson—whose spare, measured prose style belies his often gruesome subject matter—was inspired to write Last Days while reading pre-Chandler noir by Dashiell Hammett. Rather than the classic "tough guy, who's soft on the inside," Hammett's early heroes were "a little more brutal, a little more confused," says Evenson, who recognized something of his own work in books like 1929's Red Harvest. "Things that are happening go just a little more over the edge."

Evenson's edge, of course, is a bit further out than Hammett's. In Kline's room at the Brotherhood's compound, a gory pin-up hangs, her body "little more than a torso," wearing a banner that reads "Miss Less Is More." A stripper at a Brotherhood amputation party sheds not clothes but body parts, egged on by "a dull thumping, the sound of stumps beating against one another."

"There's something about people or characters in extreme situations," Evenson says, "where they start to reveal things about themselves and about what it means to be human." Readers of his work are not exempt to this sort of trial. Ideally, he says, "You experience a book in the same way you'd experience an event in life." He pauses, then adds grudgingly: "With limitations, obviously."

Where are the rich-girls-on-acid of yesteryear? Morton in NYC
Daniel S. Neuner
Where are the rich-girls-on-acid of yesteryear? Morton in NYC

Brian Evenson will read from Last Days at Solas, 232 East 9th Street, February 19, at 7:30 p.m.

zbaron@villagevoice.com

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