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I’ve spent several weeks working through You Might Sleep…but you will never dream, a new collection by Nick Mamatas. It’s a fine looking book, but the beauty is skin deep. What lies between the covers is unadorned and mean. It could be personified as a large, feral dog with a choke collar chained to a fence, and growling in its dreams of biting the hell out of the mailman. Mamatas writes as if he’d as soon take your hand off as look at you.

And so, yes, I’ve taken my time between stories, which are uniformly lean, but uniformly brutal and provocative. McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Nic Pizzolatto’s  From Here to the Yellow Sea, and Paul Tremblay’s as yet uncollected recent tales affect me in a similar fashion, although the authors’ styles and subjects bear scant resemblance to one another. Nonetheless, these gentlemen all write in the eat-or-be-eaten mode. I’ll leave the comparisons there -- Mamatas occasionally edges into the territory of classical authors, but his style isn’t readily pinned down except to say its pervasive wryness, its acidic commentary, sets him apart from just about everybody in the field.

You Might Sleep…collects twenty-two pieces of fiction that run the gamut of science fiction, fantasy, metafiction, horror, generic lit, to the realms of the effectively unclassifiable. Mamatas plays with form and structure, although he favors a stark, blunt prose style. Intellectually, as evidenced by his LJ essays, he’s one of the sharper knives in the drawer, and that keenness is on display in this collection. And a merciless display it is. He’s got a developed sense of humor, but the trick is to figure out when he’s laughing with you or at you.

Do I recommend You Might Sleep…? Without hesitation. This is upper echelon writing from sentence level outward. However, it’s not for the weak-kneed or the casual reader. Mamatas is going to challenge you, implicate you in his brutal and perverse scenario-making. He’s going to hit you where it hurts. And laugh.

You Might Sleep is available from Prime Books, Amazon, etc.    

You Might Sleep...


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 12th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
I'm about halfway through my own copy, and for the most part I agree. It's a strong collection, and nearly every story is horrific or disturbing, regardless of whatever other genre's trappings it may contain.
Sep. 12th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
But like Kafka, all I really wanted to do was tickle your funnybone. :(
Sep. 16th, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC)
Sweet! Thanks for the recommendation. Now I just have to find time to read this, the new John Skipp zombie anthology, and Bite Marks...

I love how Halloween means more horror in the store.
Sep. 17th, 2009 05:35 am (UTC)
Halloween is on the march...
Sep. 19th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
And our Halloween table is so bad for me. Two purchases, bought both Ligotti books we have in as well, and am eyeing a couple random horror books as well. -_- I might as well just live in the bookstore from now on...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


lee van cleef
Laird Barron


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