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How They Were Found Paperback – October 5, 2010
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"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."
"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
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.
Top customer reviews
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.
<em>How They Were Found</em> is a collection of thirteen short stories by Matt Bell.
There doesn't appear to be any unifying theme to these stories other than that there written by Bell and perhaps that Bell is showing how much he enjoys playing with form. Perhaps a sense of loss, might unify the stories, though the title of the collection rather denies this connection.
Typically I don't care for stories that feature form over storytelling, but one of my favorite stories in this collection is "An Index of How Our Family Was Killed" which is pretty much just what the title implies ... an index, or a list, of how people were killed. Somehow, through the dispassionate method of a simple list we get a sense of the resignation and despair of a dead family. A thought-provoking 'story' and one of the few times that the uniqueness of form actually worked to tell the story.
"Dredge" also stood out for me, but then I tend to like the more macabre stories and the idea of preserving dead bodies certainly is macabre.
On the other end of the spectrum were stories like "Mantodea" in which - well, how do I put this? ... a man has an adventure with the mouth of a lady at a bar. I got nothing from it and was really just annoyed at the time I spent reading it. And "Wolf Parts" which was a re-boot of the Little Red Riding story. Fairy Tale re-tellings are popular and there are too many people doing them, and typically much better than this.
The rest of the collection falls somewhere in between these which makes this collection a very average, uneven read.
This collection contains the following:
"The Cartographer's Girl"
"The Receiving Tower"
"His Last Great Gift"
"Hold On To Your Vacuum"
"Ten Scenes From A Movie Called Mercy"
"A Certain Number of Bedrooms, A Certain Number of Baths"
"An Index of How Our Family Was Killed"
Looking for a good book? If you like stories than play with form more than tell stories, and have an edge to them, then <em>How They Were Found</em> by Matt Bell is a collection you might enjoy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgally, in exchange for an honest review.
Matt Bell's unique voice is present in each of his stories and makes his work stand apart from even other pieces of contemporary fiction. Some people have described it as 'spellbinding', which seems the most apt way to express its quality. Bell's sentences flow into one another almost poetically and pull the reader through the narrative. The collection contains a story titled 'Her Ennead'; in it a pregnant mother compares the child in her womb to a tumor, a seed, a thunderstorm, a knife. The language used is repetitive. One paragraph starts each short sentence with the same two words. The repetition gives the prose an almost lyrical quality. In the final story of the collection, 'An Index of How Our Family Was Killed', the narrator recounts the deaths of his family members. However, all of his thoughts are in alphabetical order. Sentences at the beginning of the story start with the letter 'A' and the final lines start with a 'Z'. Most of the phrases are short, again reminiscent of literary fiction and its lines that say more than what is on the page. Bell’s experimentation with subject and form push the boundaries of what is considered ‘literary’ and offer a truly unique experience.
Most recent customer reviews
Do I dare write about Matt Bell's book? I mean, he's not just a colleague--he works for my publishers!Read more