So Many Ways to Sleep Badly

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City Lights Publishers, Jul 15, 2008 - 256 pages
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"Sycamore kicks mainstream literature in the teeth."
—San Francisco Bay Guardian

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's exhilarating new novel is about struggling to find hope in the ruins of everyday San Francisco—battling roaches, Bikram Yoga, chronically bad sex, NPR, internet cruising, tweakers, the cops, $100 bills, chronic pain, the gay vote, vegan restaurants, and incest, with the help of air-raid sirens, herbal medicine, late-night epiphanies, sea lions, and sleeping pills. So Many Ways to Sleep Badly unveils a gender-bending queer world where nothing flows smoothly, except for those sudden moments when everything becomes lighter or brighter or easier to imagine.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the gender-bending author of the highly praised novel, Pulling Taffy, and the editor of four groundbreaking nonfiction anthologies, including Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity and That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Sycamore writes regularly for a variety of publications, including Bitch, Utne Reader, AlterNet, Make/Shift, the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Maximumrocknroll, and lives in San Francisco.

Praise for So Many Ways to Sleep Badly:

"So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is a perfectly tidy mess, a Sex in the Other City—only these sexual escapades and flailing urges are truly transgressive and flamboyantly hilarious at every turn. Sycamore deftly skewers a landscape that's been completely sacked by mindless consumerism and unchecked gentrification, whether it's a Whole Foods customer whining, "Which fish is the least fishy?" or an earnest yoga practitioner bragging about opening a factory in China. And hallelujah: this refreshingly frenetic and innovative second novel is unabashedly political, but without being formulaic or reductive. It is a book that has done nothing less than invent its own language—and I promise it'll still be singing to you long after you close your eyes at night."
—T Cooper, author of Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes and Some of the Parts

"Mattilda's brilliance makes stream-of-consciousness a lifestyle, a state-of-consciousness. This is an entire lived life's worth of heartshaking honesty, arch observation, searing vulnerabilty and craving and seeking, all in one breathtakingly poetic (and hilarious) book."
—Michelle Tea, author of Valencia and Rose of No Man's Land

"Like the best writers that have come before — Wojnarowicz, Lou Reed, Burroughs — Sycamore has boiled life and times down to a resin that you could almost grind, cut up and snort. There is no one else on this planet that could write this book. Dare I say it's a classic? Yes, and I dare you to read it."
—Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters

"Reading a chapter of this amazing book is like when someone throws you into the deep end and you don't know how to swim. You feel like you're gonna drown, like how am I going to do this? You can’t breathe and you flail and start to sink, you’re freezing but then you feel brisk then actually kind of exhilarated and then you are breathing not mere air but something rich and sweet and fluid, a thing a whole lot like the inside of your body. You breathe in this new element—this frantic, fluid prose—and read like you have never read before."
—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth and The Last Time I Saw You

"In 1955, City Lights published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, an attack on the conformity and the alienation of that era. Now here’s another great paean to a counterculture of hustlers, junkies and visionary angels to wash the taste of the Bush years out of our mouths. Instead of incantation, it is a hooker’s pillowbook that describes a community of physical uproar and activism based on doubt. What a tonic this books is — that people fuck with such conviction and attention to detail! It’s like a treasure map of a San Francisco with orgasms instead of doubloons...The map is the body, volcanic, weary, sick, fragile and tough."
—Robert Glück, author of Jack the Modernist and Denny Smith Stories

Praise for Pulling Taffy:

"I admire the candor and the reticence in this beautiful, anguished, funny novel. I have seen the future, and it is Pulling Taffy."
—Edmund White

"Sycamore has a unique voice—reminiscent of Frank O’Hara’s and-then-I-did-this-and then-I-did that school of poetry—that hints at drugged-out drag patois but is firmly located in an urban vernacular that is familiar to everyone, but is still surprising in its lilt and cadences."
—Michael Bronski

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So many ways to sleep badly

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Sycamore's second novel (his first, 2003's Pulling Taffy, was nominated for a Lambda Award) is a high-speed, stream-of-consciousness romp that could easily have been subtitled "looking for love in all ... Read full review


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About the author (2008)

Described as "a cross between Tinkerbell and a honky Malcolm X with a queer agenda" by the Austin Chronicle and one of "50 Visionaries Changing Your World" by Utne Reader, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the author of two novels, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly and Pulling Taffy, and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies, most recently Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, winner of an ALA Stonewall Book Award. Sycamore is also the editor of Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity and That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. She writes regularly for a variety of publications, including the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Bitch, Bookslut, Alternet, and Time Out New York, and is the reviews editor at the feminist magazine Make/shift. She lives in Seattle, WA.

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