C. James Bye is the co-founder and Arts and Media editor of Knee-Jerk Magazine. Jessa Bye is the web editor of Monkeybicycle
"The Way We Sleep is as intimate, poignant, and humorous as anything whispered beneath the sheets.”
"At once a hybrid text and a compendium of tales related more or less loosely to the theme of sleep, this generously sized volume . . . offers flash-length tidbits and short stories by well-known & less well-known writers, interviews with movie and TV directors, and a healthy dose of comics.”
“Here is a wonderful book filled with stories about the one last taboo left in the American bedroom: sleep."
"Combining mattress-popping humor with writing as fresh as newly-laundered cotton sheets, The Way We Sleep will keep you wide awake with reading pleasure."
"Reading The Way We Sleep is nothing short of a delight, a reminder that few of life’s challenges make us more human than the common desire to close our eyes and disappear for a while.”
If you were to see my bed or even my bedroom, it might be hard to think someone sleeps there. Books, paper — so much paper just somehow everywhere — clothes, letters, those envelopes and boxes people mail books in, Gameboy Advance games — only Pokémon, really—a toothbrush, pens, used up batteries, and all kinds of random cords that belong or once belonged to something I needed. The way I sleep is sporadically and often desperately. Somehow, The Way We Sleep captures all of this and so much more.
I don't like anthologies and have maybe read one or two before picking up Jessa Bye and C. James Bye's The Way We Sleep. Knowing I had a deadline to read this, I was not looking forward to it. Dreading it, really. Anthologies or even just normal short story collection can take me months upon months to get through and so I was expecting to have to send some disappointing emails this week, explaining I was still only on page 20. But then just three sittings later, it was all over and I was shocked by how quickly it went, how easy it was, how beautiful and painful those pages were.
I have had a very tumultuous relationship with sleep and my bed. Dreams, though, we've always been on the same team. But the bed, it can be a lonely place, often a haunted place, a crippling and emotional place. Now, if I were to try to explain what my bed means to me, I'd probably just hand someone The Way We Sleep. It really covers everything, even the things that haven't happened to me. It's beautiful and grotesque and touching and tragic and funny and playful and philosophical and magical.
The writing in here is mostly top notch, with my favorites being by Roxane Gay, J.A. Tyler, Etgar Keret, Matthew Salesses, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Margaret Patton Chapman, and Angi Becker Stevens, whose story was my absolute favorite and the one I still cannot stop thinking about. There are a few stories that fall short, but this book is really full of amazing things, and for every story that misses, there are five that hit in ways you never imagined.
And it's not just full of short stories, but also quick and funny and weirdly insightful interviews and comics. The comics were one of my favorite parts of the reading experience. Right in the middle of the book, it works as a sort of breather from the prose. Playful and funny and emotional, the comics really rejuvenate you and make it so you need to keep reading. For me, even more than that affect is the fact that I dream weirdly often in cartoon. I mean, to see my dreams reflected in a book is one thing, but to see them drawn out is really something else. Something deeply satisfying and beautiful.
The Way We Sleep just works. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does. Jessa Bye and C James Bye have done a tremendous job here, because editing a book like this is much more than simply checking grammar. The structure and juxtapositions of this book make for an extremely gratifying reading experience and allows the pacing to never get bogged down by similarity of content or tone or style. This is a collection of stories, comics, and interviews that just speeds by.
Being released just in time for the holidays, I can't recommend it enough as it would be perfect for friends, lovers, and family. There's something in here for everyone, whether they're looking for sex or love or humor or just something to pass these cold wintry nights.
So, yes, The Way We Sleep is something you want to read. But be sure to keep it next to your bed, just in case.