Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: Immobility by Brian Evenson

Immobility by Brian Evenson

253 Pages


A few years back I went a reading at powells in Portland, one of the authors who read was Brian Evenson promoting his bizarro horror crime noir hybrid The Last Days. The reading won me over and I bought the book. I loved that short and gritty novel. I considered it one of the best reads I had in 2009. Evenson has done it again because Immobility is without a doubt of one my favorite reads of 2013.

Evenson is an author who writes mostly horror but has mostly escaped the genre ghetto in fact he is shelved in the lit fiction section at powells. He is a heck of a writer, so I understand why he would be considered a higher class of genre fiction. This novel is both Speculative fiction and horror but more than anything it is a post apocalyptic story.

The story of Josef Horki who wakes up disorientated in a world he doesn’t recognize. His memory is shot, but in better shape than his legs which are basically dead. He is told that in his former life that he was a fixer, and after 30 years in a deep sleep storage the survivors of the collapse have a mission for him. Travel across the wasteland and get a frozen vial of seeds. His Transportation are mules – that is what the twin humans engineered to be beasts of burden will carry him on the mission.

This is a strange and unsettling novel, that is so powerfully written it has a spooky feeling throughout. It is all done with a subtle tone, and no wasted words. Evenson is not so in love with his words and never overwrites, he writes with a tight control rarely since in genre work that is also considered “high lit.” It doesn’t remind me of any other book immediately but if pressed to make a comparison I would have to say a cross between Cormac McCarthy’s The Road with a little bit of a THX 1138.

More than just a story about the travels across the wasteland Evenson explores what it means to be human, and what effect humanity has had on the world. On personal note ¾ of the way through the book Evenson tips his hand a bit with a great exchange that of course I personally loved. A character talks about the possible death of humanity “Were a curse, a blight. First we gave everything a names and then invented hatred. And then we made the mistake of domesticating animals- almost as bit of a mistake as discovering fire.” Is this misanthropic point the bottom line of the novel. It is hard to argue after the powerful and disturbing ending that is anything else, but that could also just be this reader reacting to it.

Immobility is a powerful and thoughtful, highly recommended.

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