Ben Marcus assigned this story to me when I took a class on the short story with him while studying at Columbia. I read it all on the long subway ride from my apartment in Brooklyn uptown to campus. It is a uniquely terrifying and beautiful story, such that I audibly gasped on the 1 train when one of the bloodiest and horrifying incidents occurs (there are many). Evenson grew up a devout Mormon, and his stories and novels are filled with the grisly imagery and language of frontier America, and of the foundation of Mormonism. The situations are Biblical – there is blood sacrifice, patricide, incest – combined with the surreal sense that the house the two brothers inhabit will not let them out. Evenson’s books can be hard to find, but I urge you to please seek out his work.
Originally published in Contagion. Collected in O. Henry Award: Prize Stories, 1998 and Altmann’s Tongue, 2002, University of Nebraska Press