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The Man on the Ceiling

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  164 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Two interwoven memoirs of love, loss, and family with a haunted, frightening edge.

In 2000, American Fantasy Press published an unassuming chapbook titled The Man on the Ceiling. Inside was a dark, surreal, discomfiting story of the horrors that can befall a family. It was so powerful that it won the Bram Stoker Award, International Horror Guild Award, and World Fantasy Awa
Paperback, 366 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Wizards of the Coast Discoveries
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Community Reviews

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I wanted to like this book. From the description on the back cover, I thought I would. After all, it won the Bram Stoker Award, International Horror Guild Award, and World Fantasy Award. But I didn't care for it. It wasn't horribly written. In fact, the writing style of both Melanie and Steve are easily readable. However, toward the end there's a passage about floating. I marked the page because that's how I felt reading the book. I felt like I had floated through all 300+ pages, buoyed by the s ...more
Co-written by husband and wife horror writers, this is among the most beautiful melding of fiction and autobiographical non-fiction that I've encountered. What's real and fact is ever-moving...but, as they say, "everything we're about to tell you is true." I recommend this intensely, however hard it is to read in its pain.

The authors adopt children from haunted pasts, and... I'm not going to say what happens, this horrific, incomprehensible thing. Their book is the writers' way of coping, of hea
Jun 12, 2008 Joshua rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who thinks "real" life is to interesting and needs to slow down
Wow, I'm speechless. Is this really supposed to be a horror book? The only horror here is that I paid 15 bucks for this book and spent time that I'll never get back reading it. Thats the true horror!!

I really am at a loss for words. I'm scratching my head, not understanding the world anymore. What just happened? Was I just hit by a bus and am now in a coma, playing out my own version of hell- making me read things so bad I want to pull the plug?

The opening of the book states: Everything we're a
Jeff Stoehr
"She wanted to go there with him. She didn't ever want to go there." Yep, that kind of sums is up. Never quite sure what the Hell this book was or what it was trying to accomplish -- whether it was fantasy, horror, memoire or even some unclassifiable combination of any or none of the above -- The Tems gave a go of spinning a tale of family, marriage, loss and life, only to succeed in making our (the readers') heads spin. The book comes off more like a dream than anything, and as with most halluc ...more
Steve Rasnic is a familiar name if u read horror anthologies. His surreal stories never fail to leave an impression.

But this book, co-written with wife Melanie, is an expansion of a novella that won 3 major awards - World Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award and The International Horror Guild Award. Does it mean it's that good? Not quite. It just means that this books is hard to categorise into any one genre.

Written as a memoir of themselves, Steve and Melanie take turns writing the narrative from t
Emilie Nouveau
This maybe novel is like a beautiful conversation with a couple of close and fairly eccentric friends. I've heard reviews say that this novel tells instead of showing, and that it lacks plot and story. Those comments are true in a sense, but only partially. The authors are fantastic storytellers. If you are willing to take part in this odd memoir then I would definitely recommend picking up this book.

This is one of my favorite books, and my favorite to recommend.
The cover says "A Novel {maybe}" and the two narrators are named Steve and Melanie Tem, and they talk about family life in intimate ways, so maybe it is autobiography, but with certain fantasy elements. (It's in the fantasy section of my library.) The book was based on a novella of the same name which won several prizes in the horror/fantasy world. The gist: The narrators talk about storytelling (both are writers) and their relationship with each other, and their relationships with their 5 adopt ...more
Ed van der Winden
This book is unlike anything I've ever read. It is a blend between novel and autobiography. About the horrors of everyday life and the role of story and imagination in dealing with that. Very, very original and totally absorbing.
Renz Homer Cerillo
So just like what I've said before, I only bought this book because of the awesome cover. Then I just realized that the book also won three major awards namely Bram Stoker, and the two awards I forgot. So I was assuming that it must be a REALLY, REALLY GREAT book. Well, my expectations didn't really satisfy nor failed me. For me the book was caught up between good and okay. I like the story of the creepy man on the ceiling that torments the Terms, although that story didn't develop and bloom at ...more
It says something when the best thing about a book is it's cover art. I did sorta like it, but after the awesome title chapter, it really went downhill. The book becomes overlong and extremely repetitive. The book did not live up to the potential of the novella which forms the title chapter. The novella is awesome and most definitely worth reading. It's a shame that the rest of the book isn't better. So much of it feels cobbled together, and unnecessary. Why did they include that here? And why d ...more
Chelsea Jennings
This book is an art book. Not a book about art, but art in the form of the written word and placed in a book. It is truly my idea of great literature-full of metaphor, pain, joy, reality and dreamscape. It is a memoir weaved with daydream and night dream weaved with universal truths. It Is haunting and beautiful. It is the work of a husband and wife team bravely revealing their deepest fears, hopes and experiences-the contents of their souls. There are many sentences in this book that I know wil ...more
This book is hard to describe. It is hard to pin down what the actual meaning of the book is and I think every reader reading it could take something different from this book. I wouldn't label this books as horror, unless horror is realizing that all families live, die and have skeletons that float around them.
It's the perfect book to read when I need to get a flare of artistic brilliant. It is so beautifully written that endless ideas flow and it's the perfect solutions to artist's block.
This was written by Steve Tem and his wife Melanie Tem - I was impressed at how they wove their two styles and voices together - the organization of the book left me slightly unsatisfied - but Steve said it himself at one point late in the book - that he hadn't expected to say so much and yet he hadn't said much at all - that's how it always is with my own writing - I recommend this book to anyone who likes surrealism and poetic fiction (nonfiction)
I finished this book today and I am still not quite sure what it is about. I am leaning towards thinking that it is about absolutely nothing at all. Apparently, this novel stems from a novella that won many awards. If that is the case, lengthening the novella to novel size and sucked dry any meaning or feeling the authors originally intended. I would give this 1 star, but as I actually managed to finish it, the book gets 2 from me.
If you're looking for 'traditional' horror, you will HATE this book. There aren't any vampires, werewolves or Lovecraftian creatures lurking about; instead the horrors here are a bit more hidden and much more common.

If you don't want enlarge, expand, or transcend what your definition of 'horror' is, then don't even bother with this... there are plenty of other books out there that'll make your reading experience happier.
I didn't particularly like this book. I was looking for a regular novel with a continuous story line. This book isn't bad, though. It brings up interesting ideas about memories and fears which are presented with poetic and abstract writing as well as straight narrative. It talks A LOT about parenthood which I just don't relate to, therefore I got bored and took it back to the library before finishing.
Man on the Ceiling by Steve and Melanie Tem: Written in narrative with chapters alternating between Steve and Melanie, Man on the Ceiling is a dark, surreal trip into their imaginations and nightmares. Partially autobiographical, the strong emotions relating to family, loss, and guilt entwined to make me feel as if I were an eavesdropper into their private lives.

Not was I expected at all from the awards it won. Just a big flow of imagination that was boring at times. But towards the end some of the imaginations came together to make more sense, and I did enjoy it towards the end. I would warn anyone who thinks this is a crazy horror story that its not the conventional horror, more just the scares of everyday life horror.
Feb 05, 2009 Mel added it
It took my about 50 pages before I decided whether or not a I liked this book. I'm not sure how to label it--I think fictional biography might be the best way to describe it. I originally picked it up because there was a recommendation from Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite authors) on the back. It was not what I expected, but it IS an intriguing read.
I couldn't even tell you what it was about. It was awful. Just as soon as you thought some sort of a plot was being established and going somewhere, it would abruptly end and do something else. Maybe I'm being dramatic but I think this is the worst book I've read so far that I can remember. Maybe the original short story version of it is better. Maybe.
Lori Mason
An almost seamless mix of everyday life, fantasy, and horror. It was like listening to a story while also being in the story teller's head - I don't think I've ever read anything like it. I don't usually like horror, but it was like they went into my head and picked out every day scary things (death, childhood fears, etc.) and embellished them.
Laura Gurrin
It is in no way possible for me to describe this book, except as a surreal semi-autobiography of a family, or maybe as an existential musing of two imaginative people making their way through reality in a slightly askew fashion. The fact that I tore through it in two nights probably is the best thing I can say about it.
the new novella by both Melanie Tem and Steve Resnic Tem is superb. they expanded on their chapbook and made a book "a biography of imaginations". this is a book which aims for the truth of storytelling and the power the masks of god orchestrate our lives with. utterly gorgeous.
Hauntingly surrealistic and a very captivating read. Very much follows a stream of consciousness in writing style, and as long as you don't mind, this book takes you through a winding journey through some very sentimental moments.
I really liked most of this, but I think it went on too long and became a little repetitive. I want to read the novella version and then recommend that to everyone, because the first 150 pages of this rocked my world so hard.
Erin Morper
Such an interesting book. Written from the perspectives of two authors who were married and raising a family while writing it. Their use of personification and metaphors was captivating. Pretty out there.
???What is this book talking about? the way how the authors present it is different. they dont talk about their idea through story that is not a story!
Danny Hebdon
Such an amazing writing style, well used metaphors and just plain novel magic. I can pick any line at random and it will always be so well written.
Ms. Library
Neil Gaiman: "Reminds you what fiction is capable of being, of doing, of making, for the reader and the author."
Totally disappointing. I liked the experimental aspect of the writing but the story was disjointed and cliched. Grr.
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Steve Rasnic Tem was born in Lee County Virginia in the heart of Appalachia. He is the author of over 350 published short stories and is a past winner of the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards. His story collections include City Fishing, The Far Side of the Lake, In Concert (with wife Melanie Tem), Ugly Behavior, Celestial Inventories, and Onion Song ...more
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“Stories are masks of God.

That's a story, too, of course. I made it up, in collaborations with Joseph Campbell and Scheherazade, Jesus and the Buddha and the Brother's Grimm.

Stories show us how to bear the unbearable, approach the unapproachable, conceive the inconceiveable. Stories provide meaning, texture, layers and layers of truth.

Stories can also trivialize. Offered indelicately, taken too literally, stories become reductionist tools, rendering things neat and therefore false. Even as we must revere and cherish the masks we variously create, Campbell reminds us, we must not mistake the masks of God for God.

So it seemes to me that one of the most vital things we can teach our children is how to be storytellers. How to tell stories that are rigorously, insistently, beautifully true. And how to believe them.”
“For so long I have lived on the edge of an invisible world. Sometimes I feel like the scattered debris left over after the personality has fallen out of the sky.” 10 likes
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