THE SLEEPWORKER by Cyrille Martinez


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A thinly disguised roman à clef about Andy Warhol and John Giorno in New York in the 1960s—and written in a style that might be termed quasi–pop art.

For ease of understanding, the two main characters are conveniently called “Andy” and “John,” and both inhabit the weird sexual and cultural landscape of that era. Three gay out-of-work artists (John, along with Bob and William) fake work documents to make it seem as though they’re employed and thus able to rent a four-bedroom apartment. This works out to an extra bedroom, one they dub “the Workshop,” in which little work but much partying gets done. A fourth friend, Jonas, then shows up, a filmmaker whose material consists solely of “encounters between people—he doesn’t film anything other than people meeting, dating, breaking up”—and the volatile nature of the group dynamic ensures that he’ll have plenty of material. Meanwhile, Andy becomes friends with the group as he works on his series, puts on art exhibitions and begins to develop a special relationship with John. He conceives of a kind of performance art called The Sleeper, capitalizing on John’s strength...which is sleeping till noon and then taking a nap in the afternoon: “The idea here,” the narrator explains, “is to produce a film that begins the moment the man falls asleep and ends when he wakes up.” Martinez experiments with words and phrases in a playful manner, similar to Warhol’s approach to his art.

A slim, mannered novel almost as strange as the events it chronicles.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55245-302-5
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Coach House Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2014


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