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Sleepwalk

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A high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future American with a big hearted mercenary Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A goo A high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future American with a big hearted mercenary Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A good-natured henchman with a complicated and lonely past and an LSD microdosing problem, he spends his time hopscotching across state lines in his beloved camper van, running sometimes shady, often dangerous errands for a powerful and ruthless operation he’s never troubled himself to learn too much about. He has lots of connections, but no true ties. His longest relationships are with an old rescue dog with posttraumatic stress, and a childhood friend as deeply entrenched in the underworld as he is, who, lately, he’s less and less sure he can trust. Out of the blue, one of his many burner phones heralds a call from a twenty-year-old woman claiming to be his biological daughter, Cammie. She says she’s the product of one of his long-ago sperm donations; he’s half certain she’s AI. She needs his help. She’s entrenched in a widespread and nefarious plot involving Will’s employers, and continuing to have any contact with her increasingly fuzzes the line between the people Will is working for and the people he’s running from.


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A high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future American with a big hearted mercenary Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A goo A high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future American with a big hearted mercenary Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A good-natured henchman with a complicated and lonely past and an LSD microdosing problem, he spends his time hopscotching across state lines in his beloved camper van, running sometimes shady, often dangerous errands for a powerful and ruthless operation he’s never troubled himself to learn too much about. He has lots of connections, but no true ties. His longest relationships are with an old rescue dog with posttraumatic stress, and a childhood friend as deeply entrenched in the underworld as he is, who, lately, he’s less and less sure he can trust. Out of the blue, one of his many burner phones heralds a call from a twenty-year-old woman claiming to be his biological daughter, Cammie. She says she’s the product of one of his long-ago sperm donations; he’s half certain she’s AI. She needs his help. She’s entrenched in a widespread and nefarious plot involving Will’s employers, and continuing to have any contact with her increasingly fuzzes the line between the people Will is working for and the people he’s running from.

30 review for Sleepwalk

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Marchand

    Thanks to Henry Holt & Co. for this ARC for an honest review. An easy 5-Stars. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ All books should be held to this high standard and not waste trees. “This is an outrage. It would make a good tombstone epitaph.” Very enjoyable satisfying easy read, as if Author Dan Chaon is telling you a story while we sit on his back porch drinking moonshine watching the sky change colors. You’re immediately lured into his den; there’s no boring long-winded chapters to endure nor useless descriptions Thanks to Henry Holt & Co. for this ARC for an honest review. An easy 5-Stars. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ All books should be held to this high standard and not waste trees. “This is an outrage. It would make a good tombstone epitaph.” Very enjoyable satisfying easy read, as if Author Dan Chaon is telling you a story while we sit on his back porch drinking moonshine watching the sky change colors. You’re immediately lured into his den; there’s no boring long-winded chapters to endure nor useless descriptions no one cares about, which is exactly Bear’s character: gruff, immediate, matter-of-fact, strangely charming. He’s already 50 and lived through the “finding myself” stages that lures one into egotistical stupidity. I love extremely well-written and well-thought-out dystopian books because you can really learn a lot while getting a great read, and Dan Chaon completely delivers. This is a 5-star Keeper, so don’t ask to borrow. 😉. “Right on, Flip.” Now that’d be a great epitaph.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The most recent Dan Chaon (“Shawn”) novel, to be released mid-April, did not disappoint. Not as complex nor as fragmented as You Remind Me of Me, Sleepwalk moves like a film. I kept imagining Jesse Plemons as the laid-back and likable mercenary, and singular guide of this surprisingly emotional, speculative-fiction adventure. And this film-like feeling may have been deliberate, as the main character often disassociates and begins narrating as he watches his own life unfold. The story begins by b The most recent Dan Chaon (“Shawn”) novel, to be released mid-April, did not disappoint. Not as complex nor as fragmented as You Remind Me of Me, Sleepwalk moves like a film. I kept imagining Jesse Plemons as the laid-back and likable mercenary, and singular guide of this surprisingly emotional, speculative-fiction adventure. And this film-like feeling may have been deliberate, as the main character often disassociates and begins narrating as he watches his own life unfold. The story begins by bringing us into the main character, Billy’s, work routine, which is clearly on the fringe of society. Turns out Bill lives completely off the grid! Or so he thought - until someone, somehow has tracked him down. And this someone has an odd story to tell, which just gets odder as we and William struggle to fill in the picture. This novel has a different kind of puzzle-building feel from You Remind Me of Me, but it does have one. And as we learn the details of this world they feel half off-kilter and half familiar. There’s an eerie quality to what our protagonist is up against, both in what he expects (like a particular kind of traffic jam), and what he doesn’t expect (the main story), because the world he inhabits - one where morals become relative - feels too close for comfort. Sleepwalk could only take place in this context, and everything in this story dances on that boundary between marginal and familiar. The protagonist, Will, is told that a small choice from his past has snowballed into something huge, in part because he didn’t have all the facts about his own life. As he learns, he sees all the people and events from his past through a new lens. The story makes us question what we trust and what we don’t, while once again playing with the yearning for connection, specifically family connection. That yearning to understand ourselves through connection with family seems to be at the heart of both Chaon novels I’ve read. Dan Chaon is a new-to-me favorite author, and I feel lucky to have won the Goodreads giveaway from Henry Holt Books.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    4.5 stars. I don't know what happened to Dan Chaon that now his books are basically made for me in a lab but I hope he never stops. ILL WILL was one of my favorite books of 2017, I will still stick up for it at and I remain mad that it hasn't been more openly appreciated for the impressive work that it was. Somehow both meditative and gripping, it was all about how men avoid trauma in their lives and the havoc it causes them. SLEEPWALK is a totally different animal in nearly every structural way. 4.5 stars. I don't know what happened to Dan Chaon that now his books are basically made for me in a lab but I hope he never stops. ILL WILL was one of my favorite books of 2017, I will still stick up for it at and I remain mad that it hasn't been more openly appreciated for the impressive work that it was. Somehow both meditative and gripping, it was all about how men avoid trauma in their lives and the havoc it causes them. SLEEPWALK is a totally different animal in nearly every structural way. It has a different setting and a different style, told in one very long mostly-linear view in the first person, where Ill Will had many parts, often jumped around between time and plot and character. Our protagonist, Bill/Billy/Will/or whatever alias he is going by right now, is a simple man with a simple life. What that life is I will not spoil for you, and I heavily recommend you go into this novel as cold as possible. One of the book's chief joys is the slow slow rollout of the world it takes place in, which you see only a little at a time. It is very familiar and then suddenly it is not. We know Billy has secrets, but what they are takes a long time to figure out. We just know that Billy is not the kind of person who is easy to find. And someone has just found him. This is a long odyssey of a book, one very strange road trip with a lot of stops before our final destination. Most of the time it's not clear whether there is a final destination or what anyone will do when we get there. But the truth unfolds bit by bit, to us and to Billy. While this is quite different from Ill Will, the emotional center is surprisingly similar. It is still about the response to trauma, but the biggest surprise of all and one of its biggest delights is the way it finds hope and optimism and the smallest little light for the future in the bleakest surroundings. At one point early on a baby appeared in the story and I thought, "If this is going to be a book about how this man who's free of all ties suddenly learns to love because of this baby I am going to be so mad." The baby did not stick around but it turned out that I was very affected by Billy's growing capacity for emotion and care. It made me a little weepy, even. I listened to the audio of this book and when it started I was very confused. Why was this book read by someone who sounded like a half-stoned surfer bum? (After the book I looked up the reader's other work and sure enough he does not normally read like this, it was indeed an artistic choice.) But as I got to know our protagonist I realized that actually it was a very smart approach that fits Billy's laid-back, let-it-ride, right-on-man attitude perfectly and immediately lets you see him in an unexpected light. I enjoyed the audio performance very much, and I love a thriller on audio where I am absolutely turned over with tension but also don't have to worry about losing the thread of the plot. Totally delivered. This is such a sneaky genius book, it's not nearly as showy as Ill Will was, with its lovely prose and twisty folding structure. It has worldbuilding I'd put up against any science fiction or near future novel, absolutely the best I can remember. It feels so tapped in to current anxieties and imagined futures, making them into the everyday and mundane. Right on, Mr. Chaon.

  4. 5 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    Dan Chaon honed his catchy thriller-esque atmosphere into a tense road novel reminiscent of Philip K. Dick's off-kilter weirdness and soft-dystopian Straw Dogs-style manhunts. An addictive read with dark undertones establishing the prescient consequences of social media, drugs, cloning, the morals of biological and artificial relations and other deep and relevant stuff. Yet, the close first person perspective focuses the lens on a flawed hero, whose descent into the Inferno is appropriately brut Dan Chaon honed his catchy thriller-esque atmosphere into a tense road novel reminiscent of Philip K. Dick's off-kilter weirdness and soft-dystopian Straw Dogs-style manhunts. An addictive read with dark undertones establishing the prescient consequences of social media, drugs, cloning, the morals of biological and artificial relations and other deep and relevant stuff. Yet, the close first person perspective focuses the lens on a flawed hero, whose descent into the Inferno is appropriately brutal. Somehow manages to come off as heartfelt amid the bleak and blasted remains of a landscape fertilized by American corpses.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I first discovered Chaon ages ago, most likely due to his immediately proximity to the ever so excellent Chabon on the library shelves. Two very different authors, but both absolutely terrific. I loved Chaon’s books and binged out. And was very excited to get my grabby mitts on his latest through Netgalley. The thing is, thought I knew what to expect and Chaon totally subverted all my expectations in the most awesome way. Instead of the heavyhitting slice of life dramas, he pivoted to produce t I first discovered Chaon ages ago, most likely due to his immediately proximity to the ever so excellent Chabon on the library shelves. Two very different authors, but both absolutely terrific. I loved Chaon’s books and binged out. And was very excited to get my grabby mitts on his latest through Netgalley. The thing is, thought I knew what to expect and Chaon totally subverted all my expectations in the most awesome way. Instead of the heavyhitting slice of life dramas, he pivoted to produce this thoroughly excellent kinda sorta apocalyptic paranoid off grid adventure. Mind you, there’s still plenty of drama. The main plot is technically dramatic at its base…a lone traveler (not just through the winding roads, but through life itself) finds out he might have a daughter and that she might be just one of the many offspring he’s got from his days of donating sperm. But that’s too reductive of a description, too insufficient for the sheer wealth and splendor of the tapestry Chaon has woven with this book. There’s his spellbinding world building of the eerily plausible near future America, there’s the fascinating cast of characters that his multi aliased protagonist has to deal with, the past he is driving away from with every mile, the increasingly unreasonable and dangerous present, the uncertain future. The conspiracies, the twists, the ever so awesome doggo companion. It’s such a terrifically texturized book, never a flat map, always a topographical one, of all of Will’s travels on and off road. And it’s such a pleasure to read. There’s still all the emotional realism and engaging immediacy one might have come to associate with the author, but it’s playing out on a much larger, more intricately composed field. It’s a great book, it’s got all the things one looks for in a great book, outside even of the peculiar yet undeiniable multilayered charm of its protagonist. A perfectly immersive reading experience. The book you don’t want to put down, think about it when you have to, can’t wait to get back to. You know, that one. I make my way through a lot of books. Tons, really. And Sleepwalk stood out easily as the best book I’ve had the pleasure to read in ages. Grab your bags, your best off grid gear, you're going to want to take this road trip. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley. This and more at https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/

  6. 5 out of 5

    Selena

    I received a free e-copy of Sleepwalk by Dan Chaon from NetGalley for my honest review. I always look forward to a book by Dan Chaon, he is a brilliant writer. His writing, once again, is brilliant and filled with wonderful characters. A story of dual time lines between past and present. A psychological thriller that is a bit dark at times and hard to read due to some abuse and other graphic nature. It is a strangely odd yet interesting cat and mouse kind of read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl

    "Dan Chaon just keeps getting better, stranger, and harder to predict." - J. Robert Lennon That which you seek is also seeking you. - Rumi Dan Chaon is my favorite author. I wish he'd publish more often. Since Chaon publishes so infrequently, I have started reading Stephen Graham Jones, who as a university professor has become quite a prolific author. Sleepwalk is Dan Chaon's shortest novel to date, even shorter than Await Your Reply, much shorter than Ill Will, and much more engaging than You Rem "Dan Chaon just keeps getting better, stranger, and harder to predict." - J. Robert Lennon That which you seek is also seeking you. - Rumi Dan Chaon is my favorite author. I wish he'd publish more often. Since Chaon publishes so infrequently, I have started reading Stephen Graham Jones, who as a university professor has become quite a prolific author. Sleepwalk is Dan Chaon's shortest novel to date, even shorter than Await Your Reply, much shorter than Ill Will, and much more engaging than You Remind Me of Me. Ready for a road trip? Favorite Passages: Best Practices In another life, I was a magician, a card sharp. ________ "You want to play for pennies?" I ask, and he gives me a hooded glare. "How about," he says, "let's play for my freedom." "Sheesh," I say, and pause in my shuffling. He's an exasperating sort of person. "Young man, I'm not holding you prisoner. I'm just your driver. You can go anytime you want," I say. "Open the door and walk out." "Right. My feet are shackled." "Those are my cuffs," I say. "They're expensive, quality material, and they will not go with you. If you want to leave, I'll take them off and you can be on your merry way." "It's a blizzard out there," he says. "So stay, then," I say. ________ "This is an outrage," I say. This is an outrage: It would make a good tombstone epitaph. Worst-Case Scenario Life Elevated is the motto Utah puts on her plates. . . . . Some Utah license plates say: The Greatest Snow on Earth. Some say: This is the Place. ________ I've always had a fondness for Little America. It's a vintage truck stop, with a filling station, a 140-room motel, and a travel center where you can get some food and buy some trinkets. Legend has it that in the 1890s, when the founder of Little America was a young man out herding sheep, he became lost in a raging blizzard and was forced to camp at the place where the Little America now stands. I read about this on a plaque in the motel lobby when I was a child, and it caught my fancy, and even today I can practically quote whole pieces of that plaque, how, shivering in the midst of the blizzard, the young shepherd "longed for a warm fire, something to eat, and wool blankets. He thought what a blessing it would be if some good soul were to build a haven of refuge at that desolate spot." Honestly, I don't know why I was so taken with the place. It was maybe mostly the billboard advertising they did - they had billboards all along Lincoln Highway and I-80, featuring a cartoon penguin with an outstretched, welcoming flipper, and the more billboards you saw the more you felt that the place was exciting and an Important Landmark, and possibly magical. ________ . . . I pass a family van with all their belongings in cardboard boxes roped to the top of their vehicle. The boxes look like they've seen some extreme weather conditions, and also they are spotted in a way that suggests that they've been passed over by some flocks of birds. ________ No doubt, a day of reckoning for mankind is coming, yet even for those of us who accept the inevitability of mass human death, there's still a cautious hope; we're waiting to see how Armageddon plays out, keeping an eye open for ways it might turn to our advantage. Even in the worse-case scenario, odds are that at least a few of our kind will struggle on long enough to evolve into creatures suitable for whatever new environment is ahead. I'm no evolutionary biologist, but I have faith in our species' stick-to-it-iveness. ________ I may only be going ten miles an hour, but I am a man hell-bent on a destination. Steely Human Resolve "Very funny." Six letters. I lick the tip of my ballpoint pen. HARHAR . . . possible tombstone epitaph? After my coffee and my puzzle, I wash out Flip's dish and make myself a breakfast smoothie. I like to be adventurous in this, and so today I have a carrot, turmeric, a clove of garlic, frozen mango slices, half a banana, apple juice, and a shot of whiskey. Blend the shit out of it, and then gulp it down! In another life, I'd have a food truck in Los Angeles that I'd call "Adventurous Smoothie," and my motto would be See how far I can go! Amnesiascape You have to wonder about these settlers of the Great Plains. These white people who in olden times killed the natives and laid claim to this dirt and stuck to it; who stranded their children and grandchildren with a birthright of dust. A collection of clapboard shacks with backyards full of unmown pigweed and junked cars and abandoned swing sets and withered, thirsty trees. Was the genocide worth it? _________ Who am I to look down on them, after all, even if they are the offspring of murderers? No doubt in the great scheme of things we are all of us the offspring of murderers. Right? If we weren't, we probably wouldn't be here. Kickin Chickin "3ApaBCTByNTe!" I say. "IIpowy npoweHNR 3a ono3AaHNe!" "Fuck you, motherfucker," she says. "Don't you speak to me in your dirty Russian. I'm fucking Ukrainian, and I can speak English just as good as you, so take your Russian and shove it up your lazy ass." ________ A grimace of scorn so tight that it must actually be painful to wear . . . Friend to Babies I figure it will probably be fine. Even if the wee one does wake up, we can make do: I've got some coffee creamer in the camper that I can warm up. Dilute it a little with water and put it in an eyedropper. I've always had a fondness for babies, and I think they can sense it because whenever I've been around them they get very calm. You could say I have a magic touch, they just naturally think of me as their friend. It's the same with dogs. I can't tell you how many times I've had to break into somebody's house and their dog just came up to me wagging its tail, not uttering a single bark. Shitty Times Ahead for Some At a certain angle, the tractors of semis seem to have faces. Dumb-looking -bovine - but patient in a doleful way. Sometimes animals and machines look more human than people do. Birthfather "So . . . I think you might be my biological father?" she says. I'm still sitting in the parking lot of the Red Hot Truck Stop in the camper of the Guiding Star, and I can feel my mind unbuckling and unfolding into several minds as I sit there with the phone against my face. Dissociation, I think it's called, but I'm very focused. I'm aware of floating outside my body, slightly above and to the left, and I hear myself speak. "Anything's possible, I suppose!" I say . . . The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom . . . the feeling that I waws separated from the rest of the people of earth by an invisible wall, like a fish in an aquarium. _______ Selling sperm was dumb, the way twenty-year-old boys are dumb, and maybe there was a kind of magical hope attached to it, too - like buying a lottery ticket or tossing a coin into a fountain. _______ On the cover, there were drawings of a snake, a zebra, a penguin, a beetle, all the same size. _______ . . . Mrs. Dowty's parrot said, "Hello! What's your name?" in a high insipid voice and then took a nut from his dish and bit is savagely. _______ . . . a shy, pretty girl who wore her hair in a way that made me think that she'd had an unhappy childhood. _______ It was strange, because it was she, the nurse, who I ended up thinking about rather than the porn magazine girls with their tawny unreal shapes and unmarked expressions. When I brought the test tube out and gave it to her I felt a flutter in my stomach. Her eyes were so sand and horrified that it seemed she must have known I'd been thinking of her. Afterward I sometimes thought that any baby that came from it would be as much that nurse's as it was my own. _______ "You don't have kids of your own," she said. "No." I smiled, hesitating because she made no move to take the box. I braced it against my hip. "No, not really." After a second I realized that was an odd thing to say. "None that I know of," I said, before I realized that this made things worse. _______ At that time, before I became the Barely Blur, I was a fugitive from justice - wrongly arrested, imprisoned, and then institutionalized in a mental facility. I couldn't tell you what the charges were, only that I thought they were ridiculous, and I said so, and soon an officer was leaning down with his sharp kneecap on the small of my back and applying handcuffs to my wrists, and once I was seen as recalcitrant and resistant, it was beyond hope. Further protests landed me in the psychiatric care division of the Hopewood Memorial Hospital, where I was pumped full of Thorazine and left to drift for eternity. I don't know how I escaped. There are only a few brief flashes: I remember clambering through cattails in an irrigation ditch, wearing nothing but pajama bottoms, shaved bald and a hundred pounds overweight, fattened by antipsychotics and lack of movement; I remember smearing dark-green pond mud into my hair and over my face and body; I remember that at one point I was trying to wash myself off in a gas station bathroom, and that I stole a pair of coveralls from the mechanic's garage. _______ "Hush, hush, it's nothing, you're okay, my little one, it will all be all right." But there was a great churn of loneliness that opened up in me - that longing we have for kindred that some cruel God must have built into us. Signs Point to Yes Our entrance into this world was unregistered - no certificate of live birth, no doctors, no proof of existence. In fact, my mom had faked her own death when she was seventeen, so she was not even considered alive at the time I was born. That was her greatest gift to me. _______ Over the years, I've gotten these glimmers, these ghosts have shown up and I've spent significant time imagining. What if, what if, what if. _______ I imagine her as a crazy woman, this alleged daughter - with terrible staring eyes, maybe, with long strawberry-blond hair, wearing an old-fashioned nightgown, living in the basement of her adoptive parents' house, spending all her time on the computer, searching and searching, yearning but also truly insane, with the sweet-voiced fury of one of those kindly Murder Nurses you read about, the ones who will smile helpfully and give you a deadly injection of morphine if you get on their bad side. Oubliette "I said 'Yikes' because of the way you said it. You were like, 'I have your eyes,' and I got this image of you holding my eyeballs in your hands!" ______ "You have . . . a mental illness?" "Not anymore," I say. "I went insane for a while. But I got over it. I escaped." ______ "Northeast of Nashville," I say. "That'd be a good name for a men's cologne." RIP in Peace I haven't heard my mother's voice in over thirty years, but when Cammie made that sound it was like my mom lifted up out of the cell phone and gently bit me in the face. _______ The collar of the T-shirt is bloody, the front of the pants stained dark from wetting himself. I take a step back, careful, listening to the night sounds, all the bugs and frogs singing fuck me, fuck me, but I don't panic yet. I've never seen this kind of thing before, but I've read about it in the newspapers. A rash of vigilante killings cropping up all across the nation, corpses wrapped in packing tape with signs that detail their crimes: DRUG PUSHER or PEDOPHILE or RAPIST or what have you, often with a smiley face drawn across the head. _______ "Halt!" says an electronically amplified voice. "Put your hand in your hair!" Then: "Wait. Put your hands in the air." The Family Curse I slow the Guiding Star and stare out. Look up at the constellations to try to see what direction I'm pointed in. "It wasn't a big deal," I say. "Like I said, I got past it. Fully recovered my wits." "What was the diagnosis?" she says. "Who knows?" I say. "Let's call it the Family Curse." ______ "I keep imagining you in a basement." "I'm not in a basement," she says. "That's weird." We come to the top of the hill, and it's a dead end. PRIVATE RESIDENT, NO TRESPASSING, says a handmade sign, and then another sign that says HO MADE APPLE BUTTER, and there is a home at eh back part of the lot but it's obscured by the stacks of salvage that have accumulated in the front: partial cars, antique farming equipment or possibly medieval torture devices, mannequins, computer monitors, toaster ovens, a limp windsock man, pieces of rebar and bundles of copper wire, in short, no easy way to turn the Guiding Star around. But Still, and Yet And then without warning an old memory burbles up - it's like acid indigestion . . . . . . . Once when I complained she forced me to eat a whole loaf of white bread and a quart of mint ice cream. Still hungwy? she crooned in an exaggerated baby voice. Poor wibble baby hungwy? _______ My mom was on the sociopathic spectrum, I guess. I couldn't venture to guess the number of people she killed or wounded or robbed or betrayed. _______ When she was a good mood - when she was happy with me - she'd pretend that I didn't belong to her at all. She'd act like we were just co-workers, like I was just a well-liked employee. She said, Don't ever call me Mom. _______ She told people that her moto was Forgive quickly, and be kind! She would softly touch a person's arm and say, "I'm interested in you," knowing it was flattery but also knowing that it was one of the most subtly disturbing things you can say to a person. "You're so interesting!" she'd say, and give them her full focused attention, the way a snake hypnotizes a mouse. I never asked her about my father. I knew better. _______ . . . he explained the concepts so clearly and concisely that I was hypnotized by the way knowledge was entering my brain, the way the strange symbols and formulations clarified into a language that made a flickering sense. I could actually feel the ideas trickling through my head like tiny beads. Good Discussions I drive up through the colon of Ohio toward its midsection. It's possible that the stretch of I-77 that runs through central Ohio may be the most generic of interstate corridors in the world. It feels like virtual reality, like you're playing a driving video game that's stuck on a loop. ______ "Spiders would be worse than butterflies," I say. "Not necessarily," she says. "I actually think butterflies are creepier. That whole chrysalis stage is the stuff of nightmares." ______ I've read books. I've thought about stuff. For just a second, I dwell in that universe. ______ "I like the outdoors," I say. "I particularly like streams and ponds with turtles. I'm curious about amphibians, too. Sometimes I go looking under rocks for salamanders. I'm also a big fan of owls." ______ "I like the way you talk," she says. "It's like - weirdly poetic." ______ "I'm not the only biological child you've got," she says. "From what I've gathered so far, there are a hundred and sixty-seven of us. Probably more." Power Outage So it turns out that our poor Cammie is out of her mind. It's not that I'm prejudiced against the insane, it's just that I wish this particular young basket case did not have unexplained access to my private personal information. A sinking feeling settles over me as she earnestly imparts her various delusions. ______ "It's something in your DNA, I think. In our DNA." ______ Transhumanist Seance! That's got a nice ring to it. ______ "The simplest solution is almost always the best," she says. "Yeah," I say. "So . . . the simplest solution here is . . . that you're having some mental stability issues . . . which might possibly involve . . . paranoid delusions." ______ A single red leaf flies up and pastes itself to the windshield for a moment before the wipers carry it away. The palm of a wet hand pressed against glass. ______ She's talking more rapidly now, getting wound up in a way that makes me mildly nostalgic for my own manic episodes, back before I cured myself. The Lasting Last of Her She scrambles some eggs in a skillet, and pours the brains on top, gives it a stir. ______ She'd just finished up with some scam she was running on a polygamist cult down near Bisbee, but she was already on the lookout for our next venture. ______ . . . I've discarded large chunks of that part of my life from waking memory, and now they are inaccessible. ______ "Baby Ripped from Murdered Mom's Womb Opens Eyes for First Time." "What a coincidence!" she said. "That's exactly how I got you!" And winked. ______ "People like us invent ourselves, baby," she'd say. "I had so many mommies and daddies I can't even remember them all." The Forces of the Universe Owe Me an Apology Those cards can bite my ass. ______ "Hey! Cute doggo!" he exclaims and waggles his fingers near Flip's muzzle. "Does he bite?" "Yes," I say. "Hoh," he says. He pulls his hand back and gives Flip a hard, disapproving stare. "He's not vicious," I say. "He just generally doesn't like the touch of the human hand." ______ These days, nearly everyone you meet has patched together a different version of reality, depending on which news sources and websites and YouTube influencers they've decided to trust, and so my policy is just to listen with an open ear, hoping there might be some small kernel of truth at the core of what they've come to believe. We're all trying our best to make sense of things. We'd all prefer it if the world would just be reasonable and logical, but it refuses. _______ . . . they say that many of the people in that area remained mildly neurologically damaged, rendered into a state of permanent puzzlement. "Well, sir," Friend Dave says, and shrugs regretfully. "I mean, I don't make the laws of nature, I just follow them." He doesn't know the answer. Nobody knows. There is no answer. Reiki "I've got her in a really nice home in Boca. The same one they had Mrs. Wetz in. But she keeps trying to escape." ______ I would have told her about my sperm babies, and she would have been like, Right on, Billy! Good for you! Let's rescue those little fuckers! ______ "You know," she says, "I'm still a little pissed, to tell you the truth. Donating sperm, Billy? I mean, I can't even begin to understand what your logic was. And now - you know, if this person can track you, all of us are vulnerable!" "I wish I had a time machine," I say. "I'd go back into the past." More Favorite Passages in Comments

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Dan Chaon has just knocked it out of the ballpark this time. Sleepwalk – my new favorite of all his books – has everything: an opening that sucked me in from page one, fast-paced intrigue, an indictment of the ever-encroaching surveillance state and the mercenary corporate structure, and a yearning for true connection in a time when we are all becoming increasingly tribal and untrusting. But most of all, it has Will Bear, certainly one of the most memorable and fascinating characters recently cre Dan Chaon has just knocked it out of the ballpark this time. Sleepwalk – my new favorite of all his books – has everything: an opening that sucked me in from page one, fast-paced intrigue, an indictment of the ever-encroaching surveillance state and the mercenary corporate structure, and a yearning for true connection in a time when we are all becoming increasingly tribal and untrusting. But most of all, it has Will Bear, certainly one of the most memorable and fascinating characters recently created. Will lives outside the grid (no Social Security number, no social media trail) and has had so many aliases that he thinks of himself as Barely Blur. He’s spent his life as a useful tool – perpetuating acts of industrial espionage, burning down the house of a potentially problematic blogger, bringing those who owe the organization he works for to “justice”. There’s nothing he won’t do, even, in rare cases, baby trafficking. But that doesn’t mean Will doesn’t feel remorse. He rescued a pit bull named Flip from a notorious dog-fighting ring and he lavishes Flip with affection to turn him around. The baby? He dreams up a happy ending where the baby goes to a good family and is adored. He’s learned that people respond to flattery, so he makes sure to either compliment others or resort to his trademark “right on!” to show he agrees with them. Early on, Will is driving in the Guiding Star (he loves his van, too) and suddenly all his burner phones go off at once. He’s untraceable – so what gives? Turns out it's a young woman named Cammie who claims to be his daughter (Will donated sperm when he was in his early 20s)…or is she? Is she one of many “Cammies” who have a nefarious goal in mind? Is she artificial intelligence or some tech-savvy hacker? The problem is, Will – who never knew who his father was and had a – shall we say – antagonist relationship with his mother, really wants to believe he has a daughter. And the plot takes off from there. Sleepwalk is suspenseful, poignant, humorous, addictive, and at times, even tender. Underneath the compelling story, it asks important questions: is it easier to kill than to suffer the agony of empathy? What happens when our worship of technology and profit supersede our craving for connection? What does it take for us to make us wish for another life for another better version of ourselves? What does it really mean to be human? I totally loved this one. Deep thanks for Henry Holt and Company for an early copy in exchange for an honest review

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Full disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Bill Bear has had so many aliases over the years, that he thinks of himself as The Barely Blur. He makes a living by staying under the radar and doing odd jobs: assassinations, cleanup work, retrievals, deliveries. His life runs smoothly, until he finds out about the daughter he never even knew he had … Sleepwalk is a novel of the near future. Although the year isn't specified (at least, not that I recall), it's clearly not f Full disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Bill Bear has had so many aliases over the years, that he thinks of himself as The Barely Blur. He makes a living by staying under the radar and doing odd jobs: assassinations, cleanup work, retrievals, deliveries. His life runs smoothly, until he finds out about the daughter he never even knew he had … Sleepwalk is a novel of the near future. Although the year isn't specified (at least, not that I recall), it's clearly not far from our present era. It's just one or two plagues past COVID, one or two wars past Ukraine, one or two frontpage natural disasters past … you get the idea. We follow the Blur through an America very much like our own as he learns about his own past and possible future. Both characters and settings ring true, and the novel moves at a brisk pace. I was in suspense right up through the end, wondering how it was all going to turn out. This was my first Dan Chaon book. I now understand why so many people are talking about him. Highly recommended!

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    I received an ARC from the publisher (Henry Holt) in exchange for my honest opinion.  __________ Whenever I jot down thoughts on a new Dan Chaon novel, I tend to say 'This is his best yet!' That could, of course, mean that he gets better with every book, or that he's not written a bad one - or both. Both apply here.  In giving us a story of the near-future, Chaon has also given us what seems to be his own personal statement about the state of things in America - and what that state is likely to loo I received an ARC from the publisher (Henry Holt) in exchange for my honest opinion.  __________ Whenever I jot down thoughts on a new Dan Chaon novel, I tend to say 'This is his best yet!' That could, of course, mean that he gets better with every book, or that he's not written a bad one - or both. Both apply here.  In giving us a story of the near-future, Chaon has also given us what seems to be his own personal statement about the state of things in America - and what that state is likely to look (and feel) like in detail before too long.  Visions of what's-to-come have been as labyrinthine as '1984' and as desolate as 'The Road'. But though we don't know the exact year in 'Sleepwalk', it doesn't really seem too far off from where we are right now. References are made to other pandemics and some of the expected results of climate change; the living landscape seems rather familiar - except maybe for things like the huge surveillance robots (which I haven't personally experienced but I would bet that certain groups of people have by now). If what Chaon has described doesn't feel more recognizable to the reader (just recognizable enough to feel plausible), it's best to keep in mind that (for the most part) we're following one man's story and what's going on with him has got him so... let's say distracted... that real people... let's say more honorable members of society... are barely noticeable on the periphery. We don't really know how humanity in general is faring but people seem as scary as what we're already witnessing by ourselves.  The man we're following is - in his own words:a dreamy, cheerful henchman with my faithful hound, riding along, carrying out my various orders--transporting prisoners, delivering packages, planting explosives, spying, guarding abandoned factories, cleaning up millionaires' compounds after bloody massacres, assassinating minor people.Will Bear is a fixer for hire. As such, he's always on-the-go, ping-ponging around the country wherever he's needed. He doesn't seem to think of himself as a bad person; he's able to justify certain actions to himself convincingly. Still, he's reviewing his situation (over 50 and still damaged goods)... just around the time that someone in particular, some young someone from his past, begins... let's not say stalking... but attempting contact, with fierce determination.  In the earlier part of the novel, Will is spending a lot of time in his car (it starts to feel like that one-man, Tom Hardy flick 'Locke') but, as you give yourself over to where Chaon leads, momentum seems to kick in in a way that can go unnoticed... and by then, in terms of page-turning, it's 'too late'. ... I read this book in a day.  As I recall, Chaon's last book ('Ill Will') was rather complicated - but, even though some key elements in this new work unravel slowly, this may possibly be his most straightforward novel. And perhaps his most humorous - darkly humorous, of course. My favorite scene vis-à-vis said humor involves something seemingly out of 'Island of Dr. Moreau'. As Will explains:Have you ever seen that movie called 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' with Elizabeth Taylor in it? I feel like I'm in the 'Planet of the Apes' version of that.When it comes to contemporary authors, Chaon has become one of my few favorites. It seems I've read everything he's published. What stands out about him is this: No one writes like he does. His voice doesn't echo anyone else's. It's like the comfortable voice of a questioning mind - at least, in this novel it is. Oh, and in this novel... quite often it comes down to 'a man and his dog'; and they have a great relationship... sort of like 'Travels with Charley'... gone wild. 

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    What I love most about Dan Chaon is that his writing is impossible to define by any mere genre. His latest novel, SLEEPWALK, is no exception. Whenever I come across a unique work such as this one, I attempt to give readers an adequate comp so that they can have a good starting point. As I was scrolling through the myriad of blurbs for SLEEPWALK, I could find only one that came close to what I experienced while reading it: FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS…if Hunter S. Thompson’s novel was set in a s What I love most about Dan Chaon is that his writing is impossible to define by any mere genre. His latest novel, SLEEPWALK, is no exception. Whenever I come across a unique work such as this one, I attempt to give readers an adequate comp so that they can have a good starting point. As I was scrolling through the myriad of blurbs for SLEEPWALK, I could find only one that came close to what I experienced while reading it: FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS…if Hunter S. Thompson’s novel was set in a sort of apocalyptic future that looks like a strip-mined version of our current world if we continue along the path we are currently on. Chaon’s protagonist spends a good deal of the story strung out on LSD-laced mini bottles of Tito’s vodka. The novel opens with Will Bear traveling in his custom-built motor home, passing a joint back and forth with a young Filipino man. Liandro is manacled at the ankles while Will delivers him to a pre-determined location that is given to him from one of the dozens of burner phones he has in his cabin. While on the road, they scan the desolate landscape of what was once the US and through different weather patterns and unsafe fallout from the dark sky above. Once he accomplishes his task, Will continues to roam the highways with his dog, Flip, as his sole companion. He chats occasionally with a band of “friends” who can guide him to food, shelter or repair work, as well as any updates on the deadly world around him. The year is never given, and all we know of Will is that he is 50 years old, approximately 6’2”, quite stocky with a full beard and a ponytail. We spend a good deal of time in the past with his alcoholic, psychotic mother, who truly messed him up as a boy and set him on his current loner path. Chaon never spends any time describing how the world got the way it is now. We just know that the US that Will crisscrosses constantly has been ravaged by disease, famine and all sorts of natural maladies to the point that life is a pale shade of what it used to look like. Will’s life will be completely rocked when he receives a call on one of his burners, using one of his many aliases, by a young woman calling herself Cammie. It turns out that back in college, Will had been talked into donating his sperm to make some side cash. Now, over 20 years later, Cammie claims to have traced her lineage back to his donation. As Will determines she knows a little too much about him for this to a complete scam, he continues to speak with her. She eventually lets on that she has been in contact with other recipients of his sperm and that the final tally of his offspring is over 160. This is too much for Will to handle, so he seeks out Tim Ribbons, who became his legal guardian after his mother was killed in Alaska. Tim convinces Will that Cammie is a con artist and part of a sinister network that he must find, infiltrate and bring down by any means necessary. Oh, did I mention that Will is also a brutal mercenary killer when he needs to be? SLEEPWALK is a wild ride. It’s an unputdownable novel that is never dull and so beautifully written that it is a simple pleasure just to get lost in the prose and a frightening new world that could resemble ours in the future. Will Bear is a character you cannot help but like. It’s time well spent just to be by his side for a few hours to share in his incredibly unique life. Reviewed by Ray Palen

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Carvalho

    Read this if you like: Thrilling fast reads, shady pasts , short chapters, dystopian Wow. This is a fast paced, strange, dark book. Our main character Will/Bill/Whatever of his alias is going to a road trip in future America. He mainly goes by the Barely Blur. He does random tasks as a mercenary. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. He is a big hearted henchman with a complica Read this if you like: Thrilling fast reads, shady pasts , short chapters, dystopian Wow. This is a fast paced, strange, dark book. Our main character Will/Bill/Whatever of his alias is going to a road trip in future America. He mainly goes by the Barely Blur. He does random tasks as a mercenary. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. He is a big hearted henchman with a complicated and lonely past and an LSD microdosing problem. He spends his time hopscotching across state lines in his beloved camper van, running sometimes shady, often dangerous errands for a powerful and ruthless operation he’s never troubled himself to learn too much about. He has lots of connections, but no true ties. His longest relationships are with an old rescue dog with posttraumatic stress, and a childhood friend as deeply entrenched in the underworld as he is, who, lately, he’s less and less sure he can trust. I was immediately attached to Will. He is a strange and fascinating man. Out of no where he gets a call on one of his many burner phones from a twenty-year-old woman claiming to be his biological daughter, Cammie. She says she’s the product of one of his long-ago sperm donations. He’s very suspicious of her but she needs his help. She’s in a widespread and nefarious plot involving Will’s employers. Continuing to have any contact with her increasingly blurs the line between the people Will is working for and the people he’s running from. This was a wild ride. It reads like a movie. I would love to watch this, for real. The characters were so well developed. The plot evolved in such an intriguing way. Highly recommend this book! Thank you to Dan Chaon and Henry Holt Co. for the gifted copy!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Allard

    Grateful for the opportunity to read this book in advance via NetGalley. Dan Chaon is one of my most favorite authors and SLEEPWALK was one of my most anticipated releases of 2022. It did not disappoint. As in Chaon's previous work, there is a current of darkness that runs throughout the novel, which follows a many-aliased man as he criss-crosses a dystopian America performing tasks for the shadowy organization that employs him. It's a high-concept plot, but I found it easy to digest, especially Grateful for the opportunity to read this book in advance via NetGalley. Dan Chaon is one of my most favorite authors and SLEEPWALK was one of my most anticipated releases of 2022. It did not disappoint. As in Chaon's previous work, there is a current of darkness that runs throughout the novel, which follows a many-aliased man as he criss-crosses a dystopian America performing tasks for the shadowy organization that employs him. It's a high-concept plot, but I found it easy to digest, especially as the pacing kept it moving along so smoothly. My favorite was the sly way he unveiled the state of the world—a mention of robots, for instance, as if the existence of such things were normal. Right up until the last page I couldn't shake the feeling that there might be a big twist waiting somewhere just a little further out of view. The question of what's real and what isn't permeates everything, and it kept me guessing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I really loved mostly everything about this book. The storytelling was superb, the characters interesting, the writing easy to read. There were some uncomfortable passages dealing with animal abuse and such, they read gritty but real and packed a punch. Overall this is quite the madcap adventure story. Reminded me a bit of CD Payne’s Youth In Revolt only with a 50 year old main character. Honestly I would love to see this adapted as a miniseries or something. A highly recommended read, but it ma I really loved mostly everything about this book. The storytelling was superb, the characters interesting, the writing easy to read. There were some uncomfortable passages dealing with animal abuse and such, they read gritty but real and packed a punch. Overall this is quite the madcap adventure story. Reminded me a bit of CD Payne’s Youth In Revolt only with a 50 year old main character. Honestly I would love to see this adapted as a miniseries or something. A highly recommended read, but it may not be to everyone’s tastes. My copy was provided by NetGalley for review

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alison Hardtmann

    There's a moment, towards the end of Dan Chaon's dystopian novel, where the central premise for a lot of the story is revealed to be a scam and I realized that I was just along for the ride. Billy, or whatever you want to call him, is a man with many aliases. He makes his living driving around North America in a mobile home delivering people, sometimes babies, and objects of various kinds. His selling point is that he is unknown to authorities, his identity isn't in a single database. Oh, except There's a moment, towards the end of Dan Chaon's dystopian novel, where the central premise for a lot of the story is revealed to be a scam and I realized that I was just along for the ride. Billy, or whatever you want to call him, is a man with many aliases. He makes his living driving around North America in a mobile home delivering people, sometimes babies, and objects of various kinds. His selling point is that he is unknown to authorities, his identity isn't in a single database. Oh, except he donated sperm when he was a lot younger, just to earn a few extra bucks. And now that one thing is causing him a lot of problems. This novel is set in a near future that is similar to our own and also very different. It's where corporations call the shots, drones masquerade as Pokémon characters and civilization is collapsing. Billy isn't a good guy. He's a large middle-aged white guy doing whatever his employers ask him to and sometimes those things are very bad. He's also oddly likable and occasionally does the right thing, often against his own self-interest, like rescuing a pit bull from a dog fighting ring. As the novel progresses, it becomes weirder and weirder, yet somehow I was more and more invested in this guy and his faithful dog, just trying to figure things out before something bad happens.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie

    What an entertaining book this is! Yes, it's weird and yes, it's strange but it's also completely unique, surprising, touching and darkly funny. The main character, Willie, or whatever name he's going by at any given time, is one mean, tough guy but he has a kind heart and I couldn't help but care about him, despite all the horrible things he'd done in his life. The author does an excellent job of fleshing out this character, highlighting his sensitivity and the reasons why he's ended up as he h What an entertaining book this is! Yes, it's weird and yes, it's strange but it's also completely unique, surprising, touching and darkly funny. The main character, Willie, or whatever name he's going by at any given time, is one mean, tough guy but he has a kind heart and I couldn't help but care about him, despite all the horrible things he'd done in his life. The author does an excellent job of fleshing out this character, highlighting his sensitivity and the reasons why he's ended up as he has. And Willie's abused, mean, tough dog, Flip, was the final touch that grabbed hold of my heart. Recommended. I won this book in a giveaway.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    SLEEPWALK by Dan Chaon was just okay for me. I find these kinds of futuristic stories hit or miss for me. This novel is about Will Bear, a fifty year old white man who lives off the grid, and is contacted by his unknown to him daughter. He has to find out if his daughter is real or AI trying to capture him. I liked the strong bond shown right away between Will and his rescue dog Flip. Along this wild ride we meet some more characters who are connected to Will even though he’s a loner type and we SLEEPWALK by Dan Chaon was just okay for me. I find these kinds of futuristic stories hit or miss for me. This novel is about Will Bear, a fifty year old white man who lives off the grid, and is contacted by his unknown to him daughter. He has to find out if his daughter is real or AI trying to capture him. I liked the strong bond shown right away between Will and his rescue dog Flip. Along this wild ride we meet some more characters who are connected to Will even though he’s a loner type and we learn about his past. It can get kinda confusing what’s going on. One the one hand I can understand Will’s desire to connect with his daughter but it seemed in opposition to his entire past. I didn’t find his motivations believable so I wasn’t endeared to this character. This future world wasn’t clearly defined enough for me. I listened to the audiobook and I felt the narrator was a good fit for the character but the story wasn’t compelling. By the end I didn’t care what happened to Will or his daughter. . Thank you to Henry Holt for my advance review copy and Macmillan Audio via NetGalley for my ALC!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yukari Watanabe

    4.5 stars. It's darkly funny. My Japanese review: https://youshofanclub.com/2022/06/18/... 4.5 stars. It's darkly funny. My Japanese review: https://youshofanclub.com/2022/06/18/...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Casey (ish-i-ness)

    I went into this blind, having only read Ill Will before this. This has such a different vibe. Lol. More like Blake Crouch, which is a good thing. It was fun and entertaining, and had a few interesting little sci fi elements that actually add some worthwhile commentary. I was pleasantly surprised.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Dawn

    Dan Chaon has become a favorite author of mine, through the years. I would read his grocery list. The man can write. He is extremely talented and it just gets better with each book. I love his short stories. His novels I wish went on forever. That's how invested you get with the characters. He writes people that you don't want to stop engaging with.- People that you don't want to stop knowing when the books ends. I like that he threw a little magical realism in there. A little weirdness. That mak Dan Chaon has become a favorite author of mine, through the years. I would read his grocery list. The man can write. He is extremely talented and it just gets better with each book. I love his short stories. His novels I wish went on forever. That's how invested you get with the characters. He writes people that you don't want to stop engaging with.- People that you don't want to stop knowing when the books ends. I like that he threw a little magical realism in there. A little weirdness. That makes his stories special. I absolutely love the main character in this one.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carey Calvert

    Dan Chaon’s latest novel opens with a menagerie of aliases: Will Bear, William Baird, Bill Behr all which fade into the nothingness of the white page; the barely blur, and with it a foreboding sense of dread, where past and present collide because for our protagonist and the rest of the world, there’s little to look forward to. “End Times are a-coming.” For some. But for readers of Dan Chaon, his agonizing contemplation is what readers gain, somehow a foothold as we ourselves teeter toward nothi Dan Chaon’s latest novel opens with a menagerie of aliases: Will Bear, William Baird, Bill Behr all which fade into the nothingness of the white page; the barely blur, and with it a foreboding sense of dread, where past and present collide because for our protagonist and the rest of the world, there’s little to look forward to. “End Times are a-coming.” For some. But for readers of Dan Chaon, his agonizing contemplation is what readers gain, somehow a foothold as we ourselves teeter toward nothingness. On a beautiful evening in Austin Dan Chaon reads from page 23 of his latest novel, SLEEPWALK.  The chapter is titled Kickin Chicken. If you’re familiar with any of his previous work, you know that Kickin Chicken is going to be a metaphor you’ll tuck away for later; a Dan Chaon memento you’ll fondly recall when you tire of reading lesser works. I mean, who else can drive up through the colon of Ohio toward its midsection? Nevertheless, whatever is in the nest of blankets in the cardboard box that says Kickin Chicken on the side, is supposed to sleep for eight hours, “literally the size of a stewing chicken.”  “The gators would take care of it, but is that the kind of person I am?” SLEEPWALK takes us through all 50 states, a dystopian road novel infused with Chaon’s signature ability to make you uncomfortable at every turn. He doesn’t take pleasure in it however, that is for the reader to decide, and we do. I think of Kerouac and listen for the stream-of-consciousness but our protagonist speaks cogently, directly to us. And along with his pitbull, Flip, who has secrets of his own, we’re right there in the passenger seat. The Barely Blur, aged 50, aloof and adrift, Billy we’ll call him, is a delivery driver. And we’re listening to all his thoughts.  “No doubt, a day of reckoning for mankind is coming, yet even for those of us who accept the inevitability of mass human death, there’s still a cautious hope; we’re waiting to see how Armageddon plays out, keeping an eye open for ways it might turn to our advantage.” Within this existential stupor however, Billy receives a phone call on one of his many burner phones. A woman claims to be his daughter and this one phone call leads to the mayhem only Chaon can produce. SLEEPWALK is a thought-provoking odyssey that contemplates the dysfunctional family in all its iterations; worth the read for the mother issues alone: “In a good mood, we were co-workers; Don’t ever call me Mom.” It also includes the vivid description Chaon fans adore: “It’s flat gray-yellow sod all the way to the horizon, barbed-wire fences and transmission towers, kind of like the way amnesia would look, if it were a country.” It is also a love letter to civilization that belies its destructive tone. Chaon gives us the mayhem we crave, and more. Hope.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This is not the most coherent dystopian novel you'll ever read. It's impossible to discern from context the event which triggered the decline of civilization, and trust me, there aren't enough pushpins and balls of yarn in your house right now to map out the plot , . . and really, wouldn't you feel like kind of a dork making that trip to Target? Especially when "Sleepwalk" offers so many other pleasures aside from a straightforward or sensible narrative: there's the multiply-named assassin-for-h This is not the most coherent dystopian novel you'll ever read. It's impossible to discern from context the event which triggered the decline of civilization, and trust me, there aren't enough pushpins and balls of yarn in your house right now to map out the plot , . . and really, wouldn't you feel like kind of a dork making that trip to Target? Especially when "Sleepwalk" offers so many other pleasures aside from a straightforward or sensible narrative: there's the multiply-named assassin-for-hire narrator, who transcends the mannered quirkiness of so much crime and fantasy fiction to achieve a genuine otherness; there's Mr. Chaon's gift for description, which renders a decaying American heartland with a dull vivacity, if that's even possible; and ultimately there's just the hypnotically midtempo pace of the whole thing, which would be monotonous in another book but manages to work here as our hero wanders from bizarre experience to bizarre experience, depicting a fundamentalist Christian human trafficking ring and a chimpanzee sex slave with the same mild bemusement. I've read dystopian novels that oozed bitter irony. I've read dystopian novels that oozed doom and gloom. This is the first dystopian novel I've read that oozed . . . charm. What a unicorn.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Barrett Bowlin

    Roving Mercenary of Mystery, Will Bear, has spent most of his life off the grid, and he's seen up-close the filth that America was before two pandemics and an unimaginable recession hit. And while he's never been part of the ruling billionaires club that's ushered the nation into its current dystopian condition, he's definitely worked for a few of them. Will's life is upended one day when he gets an impossible call about a decades-old misstep, and SLEEPWALK is an incredible tale of what our prot Roving Mercenary of Mystery, Will Bear, has spent most of his life off the grid, and he's seen up-close the filth that America was before two pandemics and an unimaginable recession hit. And while he's never been part of the ruling billionaires club that's ushered the nation into its current dystopian condition, he's definitely worked for a few of them. Will's life is upended one day when he gets an impossible call about a decades-old misstep, and SLEEPWALK is an incredible tale of what our protagonist will do to set things right. Dan Chaon serves once again as our host for the "After Dark" portion of our Travel Channel tendencies, and I can't recommend this outstanding novel enough.

  24. 5 out of 5

    BookishlyWise

    My kinda suspense thriller!!! Loved it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Thomas

    I don’t know many people who read fiction anymore, and that bums me out because I love this book so much, and I really want to talk to someone about it. I will be shocked if it’s not made into a movie though, so hopefully lots of people will be talking about it when that happens.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    The narrator is one for the ages.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christi Nogle

    A trippy near-future caper. I enjoyed it and it reminded me a bit of The Big Lebowski (especially on audio) and Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City. A trippy near-future caper. I enjoyed it and it reminded me a bit of The Big Lebowski (especially on audio) and Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    The TL;DR version of my review would be very easy to write. It goes as follows: Sleepwalk will make you sleepwalk from how boring it is. Will Bear/Barely Blur/Billy, etc is a guy who's kind of like a hit man sort of but not really but he has a lot of cellphones that are used for the work he does and each one is tied to each of his aliases and he has a dog that he rescued from dog fighting at some point and also he sometimes he microdoses LSD but only at the beginning and mostly it's just to ment The TL;DR version of my review would be very easy to write. It goes as follows: Sleepwalk will make you sleepwalk from how boring it is. Will Bear/Barely Blur/Billy, etc is a guy who's kind of like a hit man sort of but not really but he has a lot of cellphones that are used for the work he does and each one is tied to each of his aliases and he has a dog that he rescued from dog fighting at some point and also he sometimes he microdoses LSD but only at the beginning and mostly it's just to mention it and then one day he gets a call on one of his phones and then another call on a different phone and he has some lady friend named Experanza who criticizes him a lot and then he picks up one of the phones and the person on the other end says she's his daughter. From there, we have tons of inner monologuing and story time from Will about his past and what he's feeling and thinking about and if the person he's talking to is actually his daughter because he was a sperm donor for some reason even though his job is top secret kind of so that doesn't really make sense and also randomly at some point we learn that Experanza is a notary public which also doesn't make sense when it's told they're all basically working for some organization that's like some John Wick type story and layout but without the action. It sounds interesting out of context but somehow Dan Chaon masterfully makes it one of the most dull stories ever. I can't tell you the amount of times I nodded off or fell asleep reading just a few pages. I think a lot of it comes down to the prose and Chaon's attempt to make everything sound so crazy and quirky. It gets extremely tiresome, no pun intended. The moments where it's obvious the reader should be getting emotional fall flat because there's nothing to latch on to. I get trying to show the natural bond a father feels for their child, even if they don't know them, but without any meaningful interaction between the two minus talks over the phone, it never feels earned. At the end of the day, I think this book really isn't for me. However, I could see it working for a 15-year old that thinks this type of story and character is just super cool having never read a book before and only ever watched D-Tier comedies with a sprinkle of action and drama mixed in. Thank you to Henry Holt & Company and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe M

    3.5 - My third Dan Chaon novel after Await Your Reply and Ill Will, and I'm always excitedly anticipating what he'll come up with next. For the uninitiated, Chaon writes dark, twisty crime thrillers that are highly original and unpredictable, usually featuring seedy anti-heroes and his trademark midwestern noir. Sleepwalk, as far as I can tell, seems to be his first time dipping into science-fiction and dystopia, but it also finds the author right on form with outrageous characters, wild plot de 3.5 - My third Dan Chaon novel after Await Your Reply and Ill Will, and I'm always excitedly anticipating what he'll come up with next. For the uninitiated, Chaon writes dark, twisty crime thrillers that are highly original and unpredictable, usually featuring seedy anti-heroes and his trademark midwestern noir. Sleepwalk, as far as I can tell, seems to be his first time dipping into science-fiction and dystopia, but it also finds the author right on form with outrageous characters, wild plot developments, and a vibe that falls somewhere between the surveillance-state paranoia of Philip K. Dick, and a stoner Never Let Me Go. Whether this always works is something I'm still mulling over, but the book is a lot of fun, and even frighteningly prescient about where technology and its abuses could be headed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lis

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I won this book through a giveaway by the publisher here on goodreads and I’m so glad I did! This is not a book I would probably have picked up, but I found it a really good read. I found myself racing through it. If you want a nearish future dystopian story about a mercenary who reminds me a lot of my hippy dad, then check it out! Spoiler: the dog DOESN’T die. This is important to me in a book 😂

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