Monday, March 23, 2009

"The Little Sleep"

Paul Tremblay is a two-time nominee for the Bram Stoker Award and the author of the short speculative fiction collection Compositions for the Young and Old and the hard-boiled/dark fantasy novella City Pier: Above and Below. He has sold over fifty short stories to markets such as Razor Magazine, CHIZINE, Weird Tales, Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three, and Horror: The Year's Best 2007.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Little Sleep, and reported the following:
The Little Sleep features Mark Genevich, a small-small time private detective eeking out an existence in South Boston. Mark is narcoleptic, and he suffers from the most severe symptoms, including hypnogogic hallucinations and cataplexy (a waking paralysis). The novel opens with a young woman walking into his office with an outlandish story about a man who stole her fingers.

Pg 69 is the last page of the eleventh chapter. That clearly means something.

I slowly walk away, exaggerate my limp, maybe give the cop some Keyser Soze thoughts.

Keyser Soze is the infamous presence that hovers over the film The Usual Suspects, serving as the film’s blurred line of reality. Is Soze real or some sort of legend or boogeyman?

Mark Genevich is very much real, but The Little Sleep asks similar questions of reality, memory, and identity. What’s real and what’s a construct? How much of Mark Genevich and his reality (or anyone’s reality for that matter) is based on fact, dreams, or faulty and co-opted memory?

The last thing I need is to have to answer a bunch of Barney Fife questions downtown, and calling Mommy to pick me up at the police station would ruin the whole vibe for everyone involved. I’m more afraid of having to answer Ellen’s questions than theirs. She’s tougher.

Mark wears the garb and follows in the tradition of the superheroes of noir, but he has no special powers. Things fall apart around Mark and he can’t always put them together, and sometimes it’s his fault. He’s not a great fighter and he isn’t good with a gun. He’s smart, but he can’t melt a witness with his intellect and he isn’t going to make mind-blowing inductive leaps of logic. That said, he isn’t lucky and he isn’t mediocre. Mark achieves his bitterly fought for successes because of his will. Yeah, he’s deeply flawed, he’s still financially supported by his mother, and he is prone to bouts of deep despair, but Mark still perseveres. He doesn’t give up despite the horrors of his everyday life and the horrors perpetrated by others around him.

And yeah, Mark calls his mother (Ellen) by her first name.

The stretcher’s metallic legs are like the barren tree branches. They look dead, unfit to carry life and too flimsy to carry any weight.

The last lines of pg 69 end Chapter 11 like a noir novel should: on a suitably dour and ominous note.
Read an excerpt from The Little Sleep, and visit Paul Tremblay's website, blog, and The Little Sleep Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue