Joe Meno describes The Way We Sleep as "part anthology, part art-book, part interview, part graphic novel, part confessional, part essay, part sociological study." This work, he writes, "represents the very best of what a book can do that no other narrative medium can touch."
Andrew Irvin has this to say: "There’s finally a book dedicated to the roughly four months you spend under the covers every year. The Way We Sleep will keep you up way too late reading just one more charming story or essay or interview or comic strip. Not since Proust has our somnolence been described in such depth.”
This anthology, which can be picked up here, is currently on a blog tour; here at The Collagist, we're delighted to play the host! Below you'll find an “interview-in-excerpts” conducted with The Way We Sleep -- every answer is an excerpt from this anthology, graciously selected by master-editors C. James Bye and Jessa Bye. After the last question, you’ll find the name of the writer/artist each excerpt came from. Enjoy!
1. Where have you come from?
2. What did you leave where you were?
When I was a child and my brother was a child, we were deer and we ran through these woods, our hooves light with wild, our mouths with mountain air. My brother would dip into the river and I would follow. We would wade. My brother would raise his head to a bird going from branches. My brother would eye a squirrel digging in root systems. My brother would hang his antlers on the sky. I would follow, always behind, my deer-brother and this forest.
3. Yes, but how?
When Keith first taught me how to do it, how to knife into the deer and cut it open—I didn’t know what to think. It wasn’t me, you know? I didn’t rip things open like that, for sport or whatever—for fun. But Keith did. Keith’d get so excited and giddy, you know? He’d be kneeling there in the mud with his tongue out, carving away like a kid in art class and he was just goofing off. It was no big deal. And he made it look fun. He did. A big old smile on his face... It took the edge off… the fear, that hesitancy, you know? It was like he was doing it to music, and he was like, glowing.
4. What’s it like, where you are now?
We’ve gotten the timing down, so I don’t worry so much about people catching us anymore. We know when the clerks’ breaks are and when they’re busy at the front. I still worry about another customer stumbling upon us, but most people are willing to give us the benefit of the doubt. They want to believe they didn’t see what they saw. So they keep quiet and leave us alone.
5. Can you explain that?
I am Bipolar II and so I have episodes of High Anxiety followed by long periods of Depression—so, many times I haven’t been able to sleep for all of the ruminations on a variety of subjects. Anything will do—relationships of all types (from Singh the Liquor Store Clerk to Match.com winks), money, creative ideas, regret, buying a ceiling fan, cognitive behavioral puzzles, emotional Sudoku.
6. And what brought you here?
This is a good story actually: I came to Los Angeles in 2007 to film the pilot for Carpoolers and had never stayed or really been in L.A. I thought it would be funny (as I have occasion to do) to ONLY eat sushi, breakfast lunch and dinner. I was making a lot of money and I thought that was a pretty ridiculous thing to do and a good story to tell. But about day three, I started to have problems sleeping a little bit, and I started acting weird. I walked into a fire hydrant and smashed my car up pulling out of a garage. I didn’t know what was going on. Later I found out that I was suffering maybe from mercury poisoning, and the lack of sleep plus that was making me a real weirdo and I was starting to go insane.
7. Where would you rather be?
I’d be the Clark Kent of sleep-active super heroes. I’d take on the assumed name, The Sleepwalking Susan. Posters would be wheat-pasted to city walls that portray me as a pint-sized superstar in my fearsome, nighttime lingerie, clutching ninja throwing stars behind a teddy bear. Giant, diagonal, yellow headlines would declare, “Fear the might of The Sleepwalking Susan! Her nighttime terrors have fangs!” Only while wearing spandex lingerie would I feel comfortable with the source of my power, however; stuck within a cockeyed universe that featured other super heroes with explosive, embarrassing farts for super powers, or maybe villains whose greatest feats most days only amounted to training other people’s dogs how to pee on command.
8. With who? Doing what?
I dream secret dreams about her. Secret in the sense that, if I told her about them, she would suspect me of being someone other than the man I've told her I am. I dream of buying her a big house with motion-sensing lights in the yard, and awnings, and porticos, and cedar-lined closets. I dream of filling the hollow, concave space between her hip bones with big, fat babies. Babies everywhere. I dream of life insurance; life insurance paperwork with her name penned on the line for Sole Beneficiary. I dream of her full name remade by my last name.
9. Where will you end up?
The sea, open and blue. Myself, fitted in a royal coattails getup with accenting white ascot. My sailors, planning revolt, their chests bare and sun burnt and their curly black hairs greasy, knives clenched in their teeth like in the movies. They are hungry, tired, full-on pissed. I could swing across the bow and, in a gentle arc above their heads, anoint each and every one of them with the lavender oil I’ve been saving for such an atmospheric touch, but instead I bring forth a beat up lawn chair from my quarters and squeak its hinges into position.
10. When you end up there, then what?
Dr. Zeitman tells me he’s literally going to be removing my nipples and areolas and setting them aside, nerves and lifelines intact, so he can slice down the front and center of each breast and, below each, make a horseshoe-like incision from one side to the other, where eventually bra underwires will ride. Extracted tissue will be discarded and what’s left, once inspected, will be pushed higher and reshaped into Cs. My nipples won’t be put back, per se, but positioned where they ought to be on the new breasts, hopefully still in working order.
11. In four words.
In some circles you could say:
They are doing it.
They’re getting it on.
They are making whoopee.
12. In one.
1. Eric Haven
2. J.A. Tyler
3. Simon A. Smith
4. Brandi Wells
5. Maria Bamford
6. T.J. Miller
7. Dakota Sexton
8. Lauryn Allison Lewis
9. Andrew Bales
10. Sharon Goldner
11. Jeffrey Brown