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How They Were Found Paperback – October 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"Body toll notwithstanding, How They Were Found is anything but bleak. For one thing, there's the prose: generous, urgent, rhythmic." --The Believer

"Bell knows how to keep his world in check, his every word balanced against another, delicately, like a system of weights."
--The Rumpus

"Bell has built a national reputation completely outside the support system of New York publishing, on the strength of his stories and novellas. He is that rare sort of writer the reader would recognize even if published anonymously." --HTMLGiant

"The characters are doomed. The stories are bleak. Yet they are written so beautifully that they become something else: an exuberant example of the power of language to transport and transform." --Shelf Unbound

"Bell, here, at the start of his career, displays the kind of intelligence, self-awareness, and care with regard to his prose that suggests he may become a major talent." --Jeff Vandermeer

"Reminscent of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Winter War in Tibet in its calm examination and unsettling embodiment of mental and physical extremes, How They Were Found is a dreamer's chronicle of the loss and partial recovery of a world given over to the wrecking ball. Fierce, unflinching, funny, How They Were Found is just the book we need right now, Matt Bell just the writer."
—Laird Hunt, author of Ray of the Star

"How They Were Found offers a world with shifting rules, described with a lovely and deceptive simplicity. This guide shows you thirteen different types of wilderness, and you can spend all day exploring before you realize you are lost."
—Amelia Gray, author of Museum of the Weird and AM/PM

"You're a robot if the stories in Matt Bell's debut collection don't exhilarate, frighten, and unalterably change you. His wild manipulation of form and genre makes the bulk of contemporary fiction feel bloodless and inert in comparison, but it is Bell's recurring arrival at something sturdy and true about human behavior that makes the stories in How They Were Found so rewarding and resonant."
—Matthew Derby, author of Super Flat Times: Stories

About the Author

Matt Bell is the author of How They Were Found, published in October 2010, as well as three chapbooks, Wolf Parts, The Collectors, and How the Broken Lead the Blind. His fiction has appeared in Conjunctions, Hayden's Ferry Review, Willow Springs, Unsaid, and American Short Fiction, and has been selected for inclusion in anthologies such as Best American Mystery Stories 2010 and Best American Fantasy 2. His book reviews and critical essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, American Book Review, and The Quarterly Conversation.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Keyhole Press (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098215125X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982151259
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matt Bell is the author of the novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, a Michigan Notable Book, and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, and the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of two previous books, How They Were Found and Cataclysm Baby, and his next novel, Scrapper, will be published in September 2015. His stories have appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Fantasy, Conjunctions, Gulf Coast, The American Reader, and many other publications. He teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By RK on October 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When reading Matt Bell's very fine new collection of stories, "horror" and "suspense" writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King often come to mind; yet like Brian Evenson's work, there's rarely a moment in Bell's writing that strays from what would be considered literary (in style or in depth of meaning) although elements of what we consider "genre" fiction are apparent on every page--mystery, horror, suspense, sci-fi.

These stories are heavy, they are beautifully written, they are deep, they are bold, formally and thematically, yet, no matter how form busting or experimental they can be, they are always page turners in the best sense.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By gonzobrarian on August 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Not at all a typical collection of short stories here. Matt Bell delivers a set of blueprints and indices with the utmost tender caress of detail to the psychological degredation festering among family, compatriots, combatants and the disaffected in his work How They Were Found. Read closely enough and you'll find elements of fantasy and sci-fi, but what you'll really discover is pure introspection amid the onslaught of grief and the bizarre, futile attempts of disassociation from it.

Stylistically the stories are wildly dissimilar, though all build a slow momentum to conclusions that are anything but. Stories that involve the best intentioned investigators who can't help their attachment to the evidence, wild impromptu trysts of self-devouring in barroom lavatories, the story of sibling hoarders and their blind pursuit of each other buried within their castle, the detached indexing of the slow and gruesome disintegration of a family, and a priest's obsession with the potential salvation of a new, steampunked Virgin Mary. Lingering stories that keep the readers guessing as to the characters' interweaved histories.

Bell's strength is evidenced by his incredible knack for manifesting a measured though chilling terror, but also for his unorthodox unlayering of the circumstances revealing the disturbing states in which his characters find themselves. Some of the stories suffer slightly from overcomplexity but there's no doubt about their powerful themes and Matt Bell's potential. A quality read.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steven Gillis on October 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Matt Bell! Readers of literary fiction have known for several years that Matt Bell is a voice worthy of praise. With his first full collection, 'How They Were Found,' Bell has culled together a wonderful example of his virtues as a writer: his strength and sensitivity toward characters large and small, his ability to tease the reader with beautifully yet subtly rendered details. Each work long and short in this collection show clearly that Matt Bell is a writer worthy of our attention.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Review on December 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
I devoured Matt Bell's collection in one sitting. There was an age when authors were called dream spinners, where the tales they wove could make you forget time passing, as if the voice of the clock had stopped. Matt Bell is a dream spinner, and though the yarns spun here are toned in darker shades, they are enthralling, alluring, captivating. From "Wolf Parts," a glittering gem of a retelling of the classic fairy tale, "Little Red Riding Hood" where each paragraph is a distinct facet of a story you thought you knew to the shock and sympathy evoked as Homer and Langley Collyer smother beneath the weight of their precious possessions in "The Collectors"; from the chronicle of the piteous drowned heroine destined perhaps to never rest in peace of "Dredge" to the alphabetical account of "An Index of How Our Family Was Killed," which packs a wallop in its simplicity and austerity, this book is one in which to lose your way, led astray by a master storyteller, a magician of words, a conjuror of worlds and I can't wait to discover where he'll take us next.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alec Bryan on March 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
13 Stories, as if the total itself speaks of not being afraid of tackling superstitious subjects. How They Were Found is a stroke of genius in a time when the small presses are inundating the industry with talent. Matt Bell may very well take the title as King of Small Press fiction. His prose is both terse and compelling all in one. His medium is unique, his subject matter well chosen, and his wit cannot help but be noticed as he compiles story after story, and each story begs the question: What is this story telling me. A mixture of fairy tale, theology gone awry, and straight forward mystery and gore, Matt Bell has written a book that should be read by all those considered literati.
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