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God Laughs When You Die Paperback – October 23, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"A host of drug dealers meets a foe they cannot kill. The president accidentally invites demons into the country and watches the pope turn into a sabertooth tiger. A man, dead since 1920, lives again in present day Los Angeles to satiate a malevolent goddess. These tales by Michael Boatman will disturb, terrify and traumatize you. Boatman grabs you by throat and drags you kicking and screaming through his prose. With a dash of Lansdale and a smattering of Martin's Wild Cards, the tales within inhabit the dark and nasty side of our souls, and throughout Boatman infuses it all with a keen wit and an eye for detail. And when he lets you up to breathe, like God, you might just find yourself laughing. This is the sort of stuff I like to read as the bells sound midnight."--Paul Haines, award-winning author of Doorways for the Dispossessed

"Boatman's debut collection will knock you down and kick you in the teeth. Alternatingly hysterical, grotesque, bizarre, and fantastic, Boatman's collection is a must-read for anyone itching to get their hands on fresh new fiction that pulls no punches."--Ronald Damien Malfi, author of The Nature of Monsters and The Fall of Never

"Michael Boatman writes like a visitor from hell. Someone out on short term leave for bad behavior. I love this stuff. He's one of the new, and more than promising, writers making his mark, and a dark and wonderful mark it is."--Joe R. Lansdale

Questions for Michael Boatman

Jeff VanderMeer for Amazon.com: First off, please describe where you are as you're answering these questions.

Boatman: I'm sitting in my office, which is downstairs in the basement of my house. The windows in my office look out over my backyard and a thick patch of woods. It's 9:00 AM on a foggy December morning.

Amazon.com: How long have you been writing?

Boatman: I've been writing for about 13 years. I started after I injured my leg in a freakish household accident. I was unable to work for about 12 weeks. One day, Don Cheadle, who is a good friend, stopped by for a visit. He took one look at me, fat, bearded, and depressed, and encouraged me to explore writing, as I had always expressed an interest in creating a screenplay. The screenplay was terrible, but I loved the process and I've been writing ever since.

Amazon.com: Where do writing and acting intersect creatively? How do they influence each other in your life?

Boatman: Acting and writing both stem from the most primal form of entertainment, which is storytelling. I've come to believe that I actually became an actor as a kind of creative misfire. I was always a voracious reader. To this day, I'm unable to go anywhere without a book. However, writing was something I'd never considered. It seemed too mystical, something working-class kids from the inner city weren't supposed to do. I stumbled into acting in high school (of course to meet chicks), and I discovered that I enjoyed being a part of a creative endeavor. After more than 20 years as an actor, I've realized that, at least for me, the two art forms are linked. An actor communicates his part of the larger story in which he participates, but a writer creates the story. Now I find telling my own stories more compelling than communicating other authors' stories.

Amazon.com: Writing is a solitary activity. Acting is, I assume, solitary in the preparation but very social in its application--and dependent to some degree on the imaginations of other people. How easy is to navigate between those two worlds?

Boatman: I find it easy to navigate the two worlds because I've been an actor for so long that it's part of who I am; I know my way around Hollywood sets and the professional theater. Also, being a writer helps me understand another writer's intention for his characters in a way that I didn't when I was just acting. Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to rewrite huge chunks of a feature film in which I was acting. When I was younger I never would have had the courage to insinuate my ideas into someone else's screenplay. However, during production we encountered some serious script problems. The director took my suggestions and applied them to the script. Ultimately we wound up rewriting a lot of the film. Writing novels and short stories and screenplays on my own gave me the confidence to step in and effectively address the problems. It was great fun and a huge confidence booster.

Amazon.com: What writers have most influenced you in your fiction?

Boatman: Tolkien opened up the door to entirely new worlds for me. The Hobbit was the first book that took me on a quest. I read it when I was nine years old and it changed my life. In a weird way, that book introduced me to literature in general and fantasy in particular. I read the entire Rings sequence every few years and learn something new every time. Stephen R. Donaldson's Covenant books are a continuing source of profound enjoyment. On the darker frontier, David J. Schow and Joe R. Lansdale are my heroes. I said in another interview that since Dave Schow has become my friend I am even more in awe of his talents. I feel like Dorothy exposing the Great and Powerful Oz only to discover that the man behind the curtain really is a wizard. Stephen King is another writer who I believe to be, in a strange way, underrated. I think The Stand really may be the great American novel. And the Dark Tower books are unlike anything I've ever experienced.

Amazon.com: What projects do you have upcoming, both acting and writing?

Boatman: My novel, The Revenant Road, will be published by The Drollerie Press in 2008. Of course I've got "A Father's Work" in Weird Tales coming soon, and stories in a couple of anthologies. Two screenplays I've written are being considered around Hollywood. On the acting front, I'm costarring in an independent film called The Killing of Wendy. It'll be in theaters next June. Also a film called American Summer, coming soon.

About the Author

Michael Boatman spends his days and nights pretending to be other people. For a living. He s acted in television shows such as "The Good Wife", "China Beach", "Spin City", "ARLI$$", "Anger Management", "Instant Mom"; films such as"Hamburger Hill", "The Glass Shield", "Bad Parents"; and Broadway plays. MichaelBoatman.us, Twitter.com/MichaelBoatman
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Dybbuk Press, LLC (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976654628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976654629
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,856,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Michael Boatman, God Laughs When You Die (Dybbuk Press, 2007)

"And you think you know Michael Boatman.", David J. Schow ends his introduction to Boatman's slim volume of short stories. And you may; Boatman is an actor who's starred in a number of highly-rated TV series (China Beach and Spin City among them). He's quite a comedic talent. Which makes it all the more weird that he's garnered a name for himself in the horror underground, publishing in places like Horror Garage and Red Scream. I will tell you right off the bat: knowing Boatman's TV work will not prepare you for these nine twisted tales. Being blurbed by Joe Lansdale and introduced by David Schow might, as the two were early lights of the splatterpunk movement. Don't let Lansdale's recent successful forays into the mystery world fool you, the guy knows his splat. And he likes Michael Boatman.

So do I, though not with quite as much enthusiasm. Boatman's stories are those of an amateur, albeit an inspired one; no one will be mistaking his work for that of Koja, Sarrantonio, Schow, or Lansdale for a while yet. The raw talent's obviously there, though. It just needs a bit of honing. Boatman is great for describing a situation, and has an ear for comparison (which Schow points out, with a few nasty examples from "Bloodbath at Landsdale Towers" as evidence), but like many authors who haven't been doing it for too long, he's seduced by the situations, and thus puts less thought into the characters he puts into those situations than he should. There are also some technical errors, though I'm more inclined to attribute those to a small press (and a dearth of editing/proofreading talent) than Boatman himself.

Still, cardboard characters aside, I'm not going to deny that these are some fun stores.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most of these stories were a jumbled mess, the formatting for my book was sideways, the paragraphs from end of prior page repeated on top of next. I know he's an actor which leads me to believe he has a few dollars to hire an editor and proofreader. The last story is what just the worst., they all are pretty bad(from the title on actually)I was going to give him two stars bc to put your work out and be judged is rough. Anyways, the last story, first he couldn't get dairy&diary right,as it was a story set as a journal entry, so we went from dear dairy to diarie repeatedly, he then couldn't figure out the speech pattern. As president he was chosen by God to record the world ending which would've been a great premise ,if he stayed with it. He jumped in with a giant vox(yes voice) which is some creature having sexual relations on the Washington monument, gave itself a late stage abortion in which the fetus stayed alive, while a saber-toothed ratlike pope is eating vice president j.c Joan(Collins), while the dl(Dali Lama) is doing something equally stupid which all takes place in the oval office. I made up none of that, skip the entire book. After giving a detail he goes back like oh yeah there was this there and that's why this happened. I know this review is long, I apologize I am truly trying to save someone money and time. Mr. Boatman you are a good actor(I assumed by your resume I've never saw your accredited shows sorry)I know that there is a draw to writing, I believe everyone can write, wholeheartedly. Just not everyone should be published, I applaud you for following your dreams please continue to reach farther, higher, I am just not a fan of your writing. *All reviews are my opinions, you may not agree with mine nor I yours, yet I respect your view*
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Bought it on a whim, haven't read all of the stories but I can tell you the few I have read are very disturbing. The book is well put together and not at all what I expected, not sure what that was, but it wasn't what I got. Don't read this if you are an over sensitive person - must be open to the ideas of human kind and our darkness within from the authors perspectives.
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Boatman's got style and vision. The vast majority of the stories in GOD LAUGHS WHEN YOU DIE are wildly inventive and unpredictable, cleanly written and forceful. Some of them will make you a little... uncomfortable. While the subject matter is deadly serious, there's a strange undercurrent of bleak, bleak humor here as well, the kind of humor you cling to when faced with ugly truths that can't be denied.

The only thing keeping this from a 5 star review was the somewhat messed-up formatting. But despite that, I'm looking forward to more from this author.
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These stories are not for the faint of heart nor are they the kind of stories you want to curl up with in bed on a cold night. Instead, the stories in this collection are gritty, dark, and in your face. The tempo is fast-paced; the language raw and powerful. Long after you've read these stories, they stick with you haunting and terrifying you.

Jeffrey Miller, author of War Remains and Damaged Goods
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Format: Paperback
GOD LAUGHS WHEN YOU DIE: Mean Little Stories from the Wrong Side of the Tracks - that's enough of a title tied with a terrific cover art borrowed from Hieronymus Bosch to make any inquisitive mind pick up this book. The fact that it is the debut outing of classy actor Michael Boatman adds to the impetus, but it is the settling in with these nine weird short stories that makes the reader realize that here is a new writing talent in the making. The stories could be read aloud and be considered as performance art, so full of wild imaginings and colorful creations, at times repulsively detailed explorations of body cavities and characters who drop in like gargoyles to keep the eye and the senses alert.

Where Boatman finds these ideas it at once curious and frightening. Yet he is able to tell the stories with a superb vocabulary that seems to ooze from the page like a jellied corpse attempting to rise. There is a lot of violence here, yet controlled with a sense of building tension for the reader to quickly turn the page for more detail. His 'characters' are flat like comic book figures - until they speak or do perverse and nasty deeds, and then they are strong enough to resemble memories from bad dreams or dyspepsia.

Sounds like a book that might be more than the average reader could swallow? Maybe. But it is definitely an art form looking for an incarnation and Boatman seems to be able to open and close each of the fairly brief stories like an able craftsman. If the 'book' feels dissociative, then that may be part of the purpose of choice of format. Whatever Michael Boatman has created here begs for development into a novel state, and perhaps being committed to a full-length book on one topic would hone the ideas and imagination with the skills he so obviously has at hand. Try it - but leave the night light on... Grady Harp, September 07
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