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Paperback The Insomniac Reader: Stories of the Night Book

ISBN: 0916397947

ISBN13: 9780916397944

The Insomniac Reader: Stories of the Night

Explore the dark side--literally and figuratively--of evening time with short fiction by Jonathan Ames, Todd Pruzan, Rick Moody, Richard Rushfield, Elizabeth Ellen, Davy Rothbart, Jonathan Lethem, T. Cooper, Monica Drake, Aimee Bender, Jeff Johnson, James Tate, Thorn Kief Hillsbery, Heidi Julavits, Michelle Tea, Dan Kennedy, Stacey Richter, Marshall Moore, and Dave Eggers (writing under the pen name "Lucy Thomas").

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

variety is the spice of life

It's not that frequent to read an anthology where each piece is unique but does not lose the integrity of the larger theme. Why do we sleep or not sleep? How does the world change under the cover of darkness? Is the only real difference the people you meet (beep beep)? A comfortingly disturbing collection that reminds us for every Deuce Bigalow there is a mad film student on the cusp of brilliance or destruction.

Not Your Usual Paint-by-Numbers Collection

The thing about most anthologies is they sometimes try too hard. They cover too much territory and lose focus of the real essence of the subject. The Insomniac Reader, while not literally being about insomnia, is a great unwavering collection of stories that all take place at night. D.E. Baker mentions something about kitsch in his review below but I don't see it. There's a darker sensibility happening in many stories--drugs and sex of course, but also lost friendship (in the Rick Moody story), hospital mayhem (in the Stacey Richter story), loneliness (Day Rothbart, Elizabeth Ellen, Monica Drake), and street hustling (Thorn Kief Hillsbery). I should also mention that there's some really funny stuff in here too. A few of the "big names" miss the mark but those pieces are the shortest. Overall, this is a collection with many moods and a consistently strong literary quality.

The Insomniac Reader : Stories of the Night

My eyes fixed on the names of the textually beguiling Aimee Bender and the hilarity plus Jeff Johnson. The next thing I knew I was gobbling up the Insomniac Reader like bulimic with choco-nilla ice cream over a toilet. I HAD to keep reading. Kief Thorn Hillsbury's story, an excerpt from his upcoming book, had the Hunter S. Thompson let's-get-f***ked-up-and-take-a-ride-together hypnosis. Unknown to me Monica Drake journals through a college girls night of appealing debauchery and self-doubt, Davy Rothbart of the fab Found magazine snaps a delightful photo of life as an adult living for 3 months with his recently widowed Grandma. The varied tones and drifting from fiction to non-fiction of each story read like the REM dream state on the page.

Better than No-Doz

Like the cover art depicting a blurry swervedriving ride down a dark freeway, this book will keep you on your toes with your hands tight on the steering wheel. There are a variety of styles and moods here. The disturbing stories are really disturbing. The funny stories are really funny. The odd stories are really odd. The editor, Kevin Sampsell, has been publishing small books on his own small press (Future Tense) for years and this is a good forum for his curating and editing skills. I think the best stories here are from Michelle Tea, Davy Rothbart, Elizabeth Ellen, and Heidi Julavits. If you feel like you don't get out at night enough, you could read this collection for a vicarious thrill.

Funny, Jarring, Creepy

I bought this collection for the Jonathan Lethem story, which turned out to be a funny tale about phone sex and call waiting. I was surprised by the variety of stories here. Thorn Kief Hillsbery writes a disturbing tale of street kids and the creeps that love them, Jonathan Ames offers another hilarious story about his night life, Stacey Richter writes with a strange drug-like tone that is highly charged, Richard Rushfield's story on a stalkers club manages to be creepy, funny, and weirdly honest, and Marshall Moore--a talented writer I hadn't heard of before--end the book with a deceptive little noir. A sort of suicide note with a twist. Ricky Moody has a nice, heartfelt story in here too. As does Davy Rothbart. Another name to watch out for: Elizabeth Ellen. Her story here is relentless. A strong and impressive collection.
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