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Sleep Has No Master by Jon Konrath
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Sleep Has No Master (edition 2012)

by Jon Konrath

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421,664,912 (4.75)None
Member:yrchmonger
Title:Sleep Has No Master
Authors:Jon Konrath
Info:Paragraph Line Books (2012), Paperback, 234 pages
Collections:Kindle eBooks, Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fiction, bizarro, short stories, satire, humor

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Sleep Has No Master by Jon Konrath

Recently added bydrmom62, oddbooks, Raven9167, yrchmonger
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Jesus Christ, Konrath and I should never be in the same room together.

I think ultimately what makes this book so fucking good is not that it clearly ripped off all of my memories and crammed them into a short story collection. It is so good because Konrath knows how to take the irritations of just being alive and turn them into something that some might call Kafkaesque, but I won’t because I fear hipsters showing up and yelling at me for being so lame as to use the term. Nevertheless, Konrath has a keen eye for the details of mundane life and how they just absolutely suck. I recall Robert Crumb saying that he tended to blank out urban blight – like how electricity poles looked and the way urban streets were laid out – and he had to take pictures of such places and objects in order to reproduce them accurately in his drawings. Such things are visually unappealing but a drawing of a city street would be incomplete without them. Konrath is intimately familiar with blight – the eternal cosmic noise and pop culture references and memes and endless, almost Tarantino-esque conversations that make up the lives of the ordinary and often completely insane modern man. He finds a pathos where other writers might find ennui. He creates humor where others might find disaffected annoyance. To make the small indignities, random events and looming horrors of this life so very funny while maintaining a genuinely absurdist edge is its own genius. Konrath is, in his own unsettling way, a weird hero.

I cannot state emphatically enough how funny this book is. It was funny on a soul level, so specifically funny that it really did ring my paranoia bell until my increasingly diminishing common sense kicked in.

I say read this. Read it now. Now now now! Read and let me know what references Konrath stole from your brain. I cannot file a class action lawsuit on my own, you know.

Highly recommended.

You can read my entire discussion here: http://ireadoddbooks.com/sleep-has-no-master-by-jon-konrath-2/ ( )
  oddbooks | Jan 29, 2014 |
REVIEW ALSO ON: http://bibliomantics.com/2012/11/04/bizarro-blursday-cassie-la-reviews-sleep-has...

This is one of those books you need to read all the way through, starting with the hilarious multi-page disclaimer full of every warning already known to mankind. Konrath apologizes for “Resemblances to actual persons living, dead, or undead…” makes note to readers that, “This book should not be considered a legitimate historical document,” and that it “Mentions chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.” Also it may cause “nausea” or “vomiting”, is not a toy and should not be used as fuel and most importantly it, “Does not protect against HIV … Or other sexual transmitted diseases.” Just in case you thought it did.

The chapter/story titles give you a hint of the insanity and depravity to come, with half of them sounding like “Big Bang Theory” episode titles and all of them making you wonder just what could possibly happen in a story with a title like: “Tesla Motors Doesn’t Have a Blowjob Referral Program”. Other noteworthy story titles include: “The Gamecube Junkie Abortionist’s Revenge”, “The George Washington Buttplug” (no relation to The Baby Jesus Butt Plug), “Art Garfunkel is my Copilot”, “Fifty Shades of Napalm” and “With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemas?” Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical.

Despite being a short story collection, they all feature the same narrator (at least I’m 90% sure they do) a struggling writer with sleep deprivation problems and his insane group of friends. Specifically: Fat Mike, Alex, Rocky, Odin (who has a grudge against Thor) and Marshall. Although the stories aren’t linear, they are still set in the same world whether it be the past in a community called Bighikistan, the present in New York City or the not so distant future. Or maybe not future, I’m honestly not entirely sure, this collection is a mind-fuck of epic proportions.

In this collection, we are also given a set of works laden with pop-culture and set in a world strangely similar to yet certainly not our own. For example, Bighikistan, is a fictional place full of red-necks who believe in high school demolition derby teams, a reliance on energy drinks and herbal supplements, and “mandatory religious literature condemning science”. We are never told if these stories are taking place in an alternate version of America or if our untrustworthy narrator just sees the world differently thanks to his inability to sleep properly and every story found within is just a dream or paranoid delusion he witnesses while awake. Or a little bit of both. Although this is bizarro, so an explanation might not really be required.

Our nameless narrator (possibly a hyper-exaggerated Jon Konrath, maybe not) lives in an America struggling to rebuild after the fast food wars and the tooth whitener market crashes. On the plus side there are time machines (some of which are in USB adapters) just don’t buy the cheap ones that only allow you to travel forward and backward 10 years in alternate universes only. I’d still buy it, who wouldn’t want to visit their alternate self and see how much better their life could be? Wait…

And of course there’s the satire on our consumerism and fame obsessed America. A world in which Bill Gate’s lifelong dream was to, “Write really shitty software that always crashed” (which he unfortunately achieved), people purchase exercise bikes that beat you in the head with sticks, the franchise Uncle Kenny’s Sex Dungeon can be found inside every Barnes and Noble in the country and even time machines make you watch five minutes of advertisements every two minutes. Then of course there’s the carcinoma fad in which celebrities make cancer cool so everyone is standing out in the sun and watching microwaves so they can have leukemia just like their idol Brad Pitt. Ugh, this is so close to reality it makes me want to stab myself in the leg. With a Kardashian endorsed knife of course.

Children don’t have things much better, in a world where Goofus and Gallant have been replaced with Highlights Extreme (which features BASE jumping and serial-killers) and Pixar is making animated snuff films, although they still have “moralist plots” for the parents. They’re also forced to watch cinema masterpieces such as the 3-D Lion King sequel Godzilla Versus the Lion King with voice over work by Samuel L. Jackson. Okay I take it back, most of these things are awesome and I kind of wish they were real.

That’s not to say just the world is weird, the people who populate it aren’t the most normal citizens in the multi-verse. Retired ex-wrestler Terry Funk teaches an honors calculus course (very poorly), the narrator’s friend Alex’s dad runs a “profitable prepaid colostomy card business” at a kiosk in the mall and Alex himself quit school to deal drugs and raise a pod of dolphins in the pool of his apartment complex. As the narrator makes note of, “Every place I ever leased would give me shit about the most miniscule things, like mixing paper and metal recyclables… Or leaving a severed foot in the front lobby,” yet in this magical world one can raise dolphins in a chlorinated swimming pool!?!

My absolute favorite story (“Fifty Shades of Napalm”) is the one in which the characters break the fourth wall and discuss the spelling of words so that the reader of the story can understand the difference between ball sac and Balzac. Or the inclusion of a scene integral to the plot but so heinous that it would scare publishers away at the same time: enter Vietnam, masturbation and children engulfed in flames. The chapter ends with a plea to us (the readers) to like the book so much that we tell everyone to buy it so, “It becomes as popular as those vampire romance teenage wizard books, but not so popular that someone buys it and edits it into a god damned Julia Roberts movie.” I’m a sucker for meta. ( )
  yrchmonger | Nov 4, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0984422358, Paperback)

Can we tell the difference between our dreams and reality? In his latest collection of short stories and flash fiction, Jon Konrath dances between metafiction and nihilism in an absurdist world of geek culture where cancer is the latest fashion trend, books have been replaced in schools with episodes of Barney Miller, time travel is possible but annoying because of the commercials, and mutant krill/human hybrids perform special forces military operations in Iran. Each story either shows the narrator’s past in a land called Bighikistan, or peeks at his subconscious in a series of insomnia-influenced dreams and nightmares. In the 27 fast-paced stories that make up Konrath’s bizarro compendium, themes drift from finding meaning in life (“Oil Change Introspection Therapy”), political extremism (“Tree AIDS and the Slurpee Abortion Speech”), and sexual fetish (“The George Washington Buttplug”). The absurdism challenges and humors readers with taboo subjects such as big-budget snuff film cartoons, franchised bondage dungeons in airports, and hundreds of protestors self-immolating themselves because of a nationwide McRib ban. Filled with dark humor and outrageous stylings, this compilation drifts through a paranoid Kafkaesque dreamscape parodying the information overload of the modern world.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:50 -0400)

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