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The Open Curtainby Brian Evenson
Synopses & Reviews
When Rudd, a troubled teenager, embarks on a school project, he runs across a series of articles from the 1902 New York Times chronicling a vicious murder committed by the grandson of Brigham Young. Delving deeply into the Mormon ritual of blood sacrifice used in the murders, Rudd, along with his newly discovered half-brother, Lael, becomes swept up in the psychological and atavistic effects of this violent, antique ritual.
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 with minor injuries and few memories. Lyndi, the daughter of the victims, tries to help Rudd 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 . . .
"Evenson (Altmann's Tongue) explores some controversial Mormon history in this thoughtful thriller rooted in an actual century-old murder case. When Rudd, a disaffected, fatherless Mormon teenager living in an unspecified part of Utah, discovers he has a half-brother, Lael, in suburban Provo, the two meet and embark on a strange friendship. While researching a school project, Rudd learns from a series of stories in the New York Times about a murder committed by William Hooper Young, a grandson of Brigham Young, the Mormon pioneer. In 1902, William Young was tried for, and convicted of, the murder of Anna Pulitzer. The crime cast a dark shadow on the Church of the Latter-Day Saints by exposing such arcane, perhaps doctrinal concepts as 'blood atonement,' a disturbing idea about the saving of a Mormon soul by shedding someone else's blood. This macabre backstory, coupled with Rudd's increasingly fractured mental state, results in a contemporary gothic tale about the apocalyptic connection between religion and violence." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A taut literary thriller investigating the contemporary aftermath of Mormonism's closeted and violent past.
About the Author
BRIAN EVENSON is the author of seven books of fiction, most recently The Open Curtain (Coffee House) which was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an IHG Award and was among Time Out New York's top books of 2006. He lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island, where he directs Brown Universitys Literary Arts Program. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection) and The Brotherhood of Mutilation. He has translated work by Chrstian Gailly, Jean FrEmon and Jacques Jouet. He has received an O. Henry Prize as well as an NEA fellowship. A novel, Last Days, and a new collection of stories, Fugue State, are forthcoming in 2009.
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