Matthew Klam's male narrators in Sam the Cat hate and need women in equal measure. By and large they're not physically violent men, but they do possess a certain free-floating aggression--the byproduct of sad childhoods, dads who treated them like losers, and moms who weren't quite all there. Indeed, throughout this troubling, masterfully written collection of stories, women never seem truly present, however central they may be. As the typically indiscriminate narrator of "Not This" explains, his girlfriend "fit my idea of the supreme woman. Why? Who gives a shit. We fell in love."
In the title story, which catapulted the author into the spotlight when it ran in The New Yorker, a guy goes out looking to get laid, then finds himself hitting on a man in drag. Other potential mates turn out to be only nominally less ersatz, with eyes "like a plastic doll's." Klam's men know that they're supposed to locate love somewhere among these zombies, but they can't find it, and this fills them with irritation and angry longing. Cumulatively, his stories paint a grim picture indeed: one of a bitter, stifled heterosexuality, leading straight to violence or to varying degrees of lifelessness. His taut, spooky prose recalls another connoisseur of erotic disappointment, Lorrie Moore. But where Moore is partial to neurotic women, Klam's subject is the guy who wishes he could transcend himself and be redeemed from the small and angry America in which he's stuck. --Emily White --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Prosperous, morally addled young Americans wallow and flail in a glossy, unsettling consumer wonderland in Klam's unnervingly dead-on debut collection of seven long stories. Capturing contemporary speech and thought patterns as few writers can, Klam practically channels his protagonists, allowing them to inhabit him rather than the other way around. In the hilarious title story, a testosterone-crazed advertising executive is forced to reconsider his sexuality when he is unexpectedly attracted to another man. Klam's choppy, declarative sentences perfectly capture the comedy of a dissolute serial monogamist raging against self-discovery and the poignant confusion that such discovery brings. In "Linda's Daddy's Loaded," a wealthy father spoils his daughter and her husband so much that the couple is nearly driven apart, longing for the days when they struggled together in relative poverty. Deftly manipulating symbols and disjunctive prose, Klam explores the existential vacuum that threatens when the American Dream is obediently followed. "The Royal Palms," an O. Henry Award-winning story, is an elegantly composed tale in which the mutely explosive disappointments of a failed marriage are silhouetted against the backdrop of a Caribbean paradise. Other psychologically penetrating entries include "Not This," about a man who relishes the possibility of donating sperm to his pompous older brother's wife, and "Issues I Dealt With in Therapy," about the reunion of two college friends at a wedding and the collision of past idealism with recent imperatives of success. Throughout the collection, Klam demonstrates his mastery of the fine art of irony, exposing the nerve endings of his complex, often tormented, sometimes funny, characters, while allowing the reader to make his or her own judgments. (May) FYI: In 1999, Klam was named one of the 20 best young fiction writers in America by the New Yorker.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I picked this up second-hand. It was published in 2000. It has 6 rainbow-coloured condoms on the front, still in their wrappers and 3 on the back no longer in their wrappers,... Read morePublished on September 11, 2011 by Vanessa Wu
If you're looking for a great summer (fall, winter, spring) read, this is for you. Klam is truly a great writer. Read morePublished on August 11, 2009 by Charles Dickens Lover
While the writing is pretty decent. The subject matter tends to get repetitive and it is just depressing how the male characters view women. Ouch! Read morePublished on May 17, 2006 by J. Mckenna
The characters are not all that admirable, but the writing and insight are so deft that they will elicit your sympathy nonetheless. The dialogue is just right. Read morePublished on October 25, 2005 by KL Takada
The six stories by Klam remind me of a now-nearly forgotten writer from the 1920s, Ring Lardner. In short tales like "The Golden Honeymoon" and "You Know Me, Al," Lardner managed... Read morePublished on June 18, 2005 by John L Murphy
This is one of my favorite books of stories of the past 10 years, at least. Klam's stories are willing to take great risks in their explorations of men and their ambivalent... Read morePublished on October 28, 2002 by Jack Harms
The stories are funny, and are a good, cynical portrait of the insecurities and confusions of your typical heterosexual ( or something... Read morePublished on June 23, 2002 by Ventura Angelo
Klam hits your "yes, that's exactly how it is" button so often that after a while, reading him, it just stays stuck in. Read morePublished on December 4, 2001 by The Hammer
[[[[[From The Battalion]]]]]]
Sam the Cat is an original and feisty piece of American fiction. Klam takes a big torch and burns away pretense and facade. Read more