Review of H.G. Bells’ “Sleep Over” (2018)

Who the hell has the balls to take a pseudonym like H.G. Bells?  NO ONE! This lady just has good, old-fashioned bravery and total confidence in her incredibly badass writing abilities. Goodbye, outdated and anatomically bizarre colloquialism. Or maybe she’s just being goofy, I dunno.

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Fun fact: I had diabetis!

Sleep Over is- no-doubt- the best chronicle collection I’ve read since Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (one of my all-time favorite pieces of art). Sleep Over is scarring and gorgeous in its simplicity alone; one day, no one can sleep. The next day, no one can sleep. Repeat until everyone just dies (day 10 or so). You know how you do; first you’re clumsy and mad, then you get that auditory amplification because your brain gives up on filtering anything out. Oh, well how-do, hallucinations! How about waking nightmares as your brain eats itself? How about children around you just becoming wide-eyed, zombie-statue catatonic?

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The pacifiers satisfies me no longer. Taking to violence it is.

How about how easy it would be for everyone to lose their minds and kill each other/themselves after a few days without sleep?

It took me three days to get through this book. I had nightmares. All. Three. Nights. Goddammit. I’ve found myself checking to see if I’m able to sleep throughout the day, just to make sure IT’S NOT HAPPENING.

The short, first-person stories are romantic, hilarious when intended to be, and above all, haunting like no one’s biz due to the borderline absurd details with which Bells embellishes each story. Like the perspective of the kid with chronic insomnia before “The Longest Day,” who has to watch his parents crawl up and down the stairs “like a doggy” because they no longer can do so like a person. Shudder-out-loud moments like this traumatize the reader throughout.

The stories include but are not limited to monks, kids, coroners, and cops from all over the world. Their incites magnify humanity’s redeeming qualities as well as our sludgy underbellies, natch. Even the end, the cleanup process, the plans for recovery, give light to new nightmares, and the nightmare in hindsight (the present) we didn’t realize we were living already. It asks wonderful dinner convo questions like, reverse eugenics: it’s kind of happening isn’t it? And hey, should birthing really be a BASIC human right? Like we need a permit to buy weed, but not to reproduce? Hrmm! 

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AAAAANYWAY, I libraried my copy, but I’ll have go pick one up for ownsies (no one says that) to pass around the office. You should too, this book needs more eyes on it.    

jj  


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