Horror lit writer Brian Evenson has often been compared to Franz Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe — nods to his ability to craft grimly comic tales that burn with psychological intensity and chill with graphic violence. A practicing Mormon, Evenson was forced to leave a teaching position at Brigham Young University in 1995 over Altmann’s Tongue, his debut book of short stories, which a college spokesman described as having “extreme, brutal, sadistic, and violent depictions of violence.” His editor at Knopf, New York über-literati Gordon Lish, came to his defense, claiming that Evenson “will produce himself as one of the major writers of the 21st century.” Evenson went on to write “Mudder Tongue,” published in McSweeney’s Quarterly and anthologized in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2007, and
The Open Curtain, a 2006 novel that mines the murderous history of the grandson of Mormon prophet Brigham Young. Evenson has told interviewers that the violence in his books is neither glamorous nor gratuitous but exists to show how we as humans participate in the moral decline of the world. As Kline, the dismembered detective protagonist of Evenson’s surreal mystery novel Last Days, says, “Truth cannot be imparted. It must be inflicted.” On Thursday, March 25, Evenson, a Lannan Foundation writer in residence, gives a free reading at 7 p.m. at the LTC Auditorium at the Institute of American Indian Arts, 83 Avan Nu Po Road, 424-2300.