In his debut collection How They Were Found, Matt Bell draws from a wide range of genres to create stories that are both formally innovative and imaginatively rich. In one, a 19th-century minister follows ghostly instructions to build a mechanical messiah. In another, a tyrannical army commander watches his apocalyptic command slip away as the memories of his men begin to fade and fail. Elsewhere, murders are indexed, new worlds are mapped, fairy tales are fractured and retold and then fractured again.
Throughout these thirteen stories, Bell’s careful prose burrows at the foundations of his characters’ lives until they topple over, then painstakingly pores over the wreckage for what rubbled humanity might yet remain to be found.
Contains the story “Dredge,” selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2010.
“Body toll notwithstanding, How They Were Found is anything but bleak. For one thing, there’s the prose: generous, urgent, rhythmic.”
“Reminscent of Friedrich D?rrenmatt’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