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Sam the Cat: and Other Stories Paperback – May 29, 2001
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The funny moments in "Sam the Cat and Other Stories" are way too numerous to list in even the most abbreviated form, but, as one reviewer has pointed out already, some of them repeat themselves, so you'd probably have to list them twice. More troublesome is the repetition of mindset, as one narrator after another gets smelted into one mass of undelineated young white male insecurity and aggression. Part of why I read fiction is the way it's able to take me places; Klam only really ever takes you to one place, and not matter how much you like it and how funny it is, you will begin asking yourself where it all ends. I can't help but compare "Sam the Cat" to another young white male collection of stories, but one that really reaches a good degree of breadth and humanity, Paul Rawlins' Flannery O'Connor Award-winning "No Lie Like Love." Rawlins shows you a spectrum of experiences, while Klam seems overly enamored of the same one. Over. And over.
I still like the collection, and will probably read it again. (Hell, I'm teaching "Issues I Dealt With in Therapy" in a Short Fiction class next semester--the short version.) But I want to see its author stretch on his next effort. He's got way too much talent and style to be retreading the same tires for 200 pages.
That may be the problem for some readers - no one's dealing with tragic circumstances here. All the problems are of the navel-gazing variety - young men who can't be happy even though they're dating beautiful women, taking exotic vacations, getting millions of dollars from their father-in-law or getting married on a beautiful French estate. (We should all have such problems!)
If that doesn't bother you, and you're willing to read about the neuroses we all carry around that make it difficult to enjoy the good things life delivers, then you can't help but admire how effectively Klam explores male discontent. As many reviewers have noted he is absolutely fearless in exploring how far our darker sides can take us: a "yes" man whose only escape is beating on his dog, a fiancé who acts out his reservation about his marriage by sleeping with a woman he's repulsed by, a guy who belittles and ridicules his best friend in a wedding rehearsal dinner toast when he should be paying tribute to him.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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