Be warned: To read Adrianne Harun’s A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain is to subject yourself to a constant sense of subdued terror and simultaneous wide-eyed wonder. Harun is a master storyteller and Mountain reads like folklore. She delivers blaringly real characters and setting mixed with carefully metered out magical realism and stark-cold evil. Her characters are desperate, the setting is chillingly beautiful, and the devil is walking among them.
For Mountain, Harun takes inspiration from true horror: women and girls disappearing along the infamous “Highway of Tears.” Daughters, mothers, and sisters lost. The friends, families, and very environment that suffer these hemorrhaging losses are the subjects of Harun’s story. These are the people who live and work with the “stolen sisters” before they vanish; this is the unnamed town they leave behind.
Harun’s narrator, Leo, tells us “here’s a place where a singular story won’t suffice, if one ever could.” And it is a good thing, for it is as a short story writer that we know Harun best and those skills shine through here. Mountain is peppered with small vignettes, eerie folk tales, and sing-songy side stories. Like the citizens of the nameless town, each of her cleverly crafted asides is independent of, yet integral to, the whole.
Mountain is worthy of the committee’s attention because we become willingly lost in the haunting small town Adrianne Harun lures us to. Though we know evil surely awaits us, our hair standing on end under her tightly controlled tension, we continue to walk forward into the dense forests, abandoned logging roads, and hardscrabble life of her forsaken characters. We keep moving forward because we simply cannot resist. Harun’s prose is just so lovely. Her sentences are complex without being obnoxious; she is wordy in all the right ways. She is sparse and illusive when she should be. Harun writes so that we remember. Somehow, she takes an ugly story and turns it into a beautiful book.
– Tina Ontiveros, bookseller at Klindt’s Booksellers in The Dalles, OR, PNBA Award Committee member
Members of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award Committee are sharing what they loved about the 2015 shortlist on nwbooklovers.org. For 2015 PNBA Award coverage, click here.