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The Little Sleep

(Mark Genevich #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  928 ratings  ·  154 reviews

Raymond Chandler meets Jonathan Lethem in this wickedly entertaining debut featuring Mark Genevich, Narcoleptic Detective

Mark Genevich is a South Boston P.I. with a little problem: he's narcoleptic, and he suffers from the most severe symptoms, including hypnogogic hallucinations. These waking dreams wreak havoc for a guy who depends on real-life clues to make his liv

271 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Holt McDougal (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  928 ratings  ·  154 reviews

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Mark Genevich yearns to be a hard-boiled PI, just like Philip Marlowe. And he tries. He talks the talk. He wears a hat. He's as hard-boiled as he can be, considering he lives with his mom. And has narcolepsy. Well, I suppose when you fall asleep at the drop of a hat, you need all the help you can get.

Every time I sleep - it doesn't matter how long I'm out - puts more unconscious space between myself and the events I experienced, because every time I wake up it's a new day. Those fraudulent extr
Oct 19, 2008 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
It's my first novel, so I'm terribly biased!
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I enjoyed 'A Head Full of Ghosts,' by the same author.

First off, the book was witty, modern, filled with contemporary references, has an MC who calls his mother 'Ellen,' and was a quick and enjoyable read. The main premise is tricky, though, as it involves a PI who has narcolepsy. (He even drives a car from Cape Cod home to Dorchester while fighting off sleep. There was some absolutely great writing here; the guy knows his local geography.)

The story is about some photos
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
The Little Sleep might as well come with a questionnaire stapled to its cover asking you to compare it to The Big Sleep, so I will oblige the marketing campaign by looking for connections: The settings have little in common (1930s Los Angeles vs. 2000s Boston), and there is a superficial plot connection (a daughter or two with a powerful father, pornography, and blackmail figure in the events of both books). But when you come to the novels' protagonists, things get interesting. The most obvious ...more
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: black-as-night
After reading Tom Piccirilli's Every Shallow Cut and finding myself enjoying the book's format as much as the content I went exploring the back catalogue of the Chizine Press for more interesting books by interesting authors. Amongst those that I shortlisted was Paul Tremblay, and I was sure I already knew his name from somewhere. Turns out I already owned The Little Sleep and had done for about two years without taking it off of my noir bookcase. The perils of buying everything you see.

The Litt
Sebastien Castell
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay sits in the sweet-spot of my interest in crime fiction: the noir detective-with-a-problem (that isn't alcoholism). It's not that I mind stories about alcoholics, it's just the trope of the hard-drinking detective wears on me after a while. In The Little Sleep, Mark Genevich is a private detective suffering from multiple narcoleptic symptoms stemming from a car accident that has left him sometimes falling asleep at the worst possible times, occasionally hallucina ...more
Paul Eckert
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had a few issues with Tremblay's short story collection, In the Mean Time, but overall I thought it was good enough to warrant reading his novels. The stories in that collection were full with quirky premises and characters that were more compelling that not.

The Little Sleep has quirk, but only in its premise. Mark Genovitch is a private detective, but due to a head injury, now has narcolepsy and a messed up face. He usually handles small-time cases that involve the banal aspects of private i
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! Obviously, the title is a take-off on Chandler's series fearing Philip Marlowe; where that P. I. is suave, self-assured, in command, and tough, Mark ... isn't. He was in an accident (details not given) years earlier, leaving him somewhat disfigured (how much isn't clear, but references are made), as well as narcoleptic -- those "little sleeps" that come on without warning.

Without re-hashing that actual plot, here's basically what to expect: Mark receives "compromis
Caleb Ross
Dec 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Click the image below to watch the quick Wordless Video Book Review

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Schlafly Oatmeal Stout pairs well with Paul Tremblay’s The Little Sleep. When enjoying a book about a narcoleptic detective, coffee immediately comes to mind. The roasted barley and oatmeal with coffee and raisin notes helps me to empathize with the character of Mark Genevich, drowsy yet always searching for the morning breakfast-and-coffee perk needed to keep me going.  My wish for you, dear reader, is for less vio
The Behrg
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A detective with narcolepsy, who also may or may not be hallucinating when awake? And who gets a job but was "asleep" when he received the case, not knowing what he was hired to do or by who?

How can this not be an enjoyable read?

"The Little Sleep" is a premise-driven novel, no doubt, and while it does give in to many of the cliches in the noir genre, it does so intentionally. Almost self-deprecatingly. Tremblay's created a character that's fun to watch, from his "condition" to his snarky attitu
Sean Owen
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Why does every writer with noir aspirations drag out the same tired formula. The powerful politican with a dark past calls on the help of a small town private eye with "insert quirky trait/disability/illness here" to help with a case involving his daughter. This cliched framework alone doesn't doom a book to failure. The problem lies more in these writers believing that the quirky trait they've given the detective is enough to carry the book.

Tremblay's detective is a narcoleptic. This illness cr
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: noir
The Little sleep was an entertaining read with an interesting story. Narcoleptic Private eye (and indeed you do learn a lot about this medical malady while reading this.) Mark Genevich is on the case and between bouts of passing out and having a very unreliable narrative because of hallucination manages to find the bad guys. Kind of Raymond Chandler meets the Rockford Files meets Jay and Silent Bob meets Memento.
There were times when I wanted to choke the life out of the protagonist because he
Oct 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
A Bram Stoker Best First Novel Award winner. So you say.
The author tried to be clever. The narrator tried to be adorable. I tried to like this book. Somehow (IMHO) we all failed.

Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mark Genevich has narcolepsy in the worst way. He falls asleep midsentence. He has vivid hallucinations that he can't always tell from reality. He walks around and has conversations in his sleep, often fooling others into thinking he's awake. He suffers from attacks of cataplexy, aka "sleep paralysis". And he works as a private detective, which for him generally means taking cases that consist of finding data on the internet. However, now he's been hired by a pretty young contestant on "American ...more
Kate Jonez
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Explaining The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay with a few snappy pull-quotes makes the concept of the book sound completely convoluted and ridiculous. It does when I’m the one stringing the words together anyway and I’ve tried a few times. So I’ll settle for the movie pitch short-cut. The Singing Detective meets Memento, with a wittier protagonist —and no psoriasis.
The tale of a narcoleptic detective solving the puzzle of how a photograph fell into his hands while he was sleeping unfolds like a b
Printable Tire
I picked this up in June at the Brattle Book shop when I was visiting Boston with a friend because I remembered hearing about it- like a conversation on NPR with the author or something- and I wanted to read a new book. Well, it's not "new" anymore, but the author is local and I'm a sucker for books with a local setting.

It's impossible to talk about this book without comparing it to the other PI book I recently read, Dreaming of Babylon by Brautigan. Brautigan's book is funnier and shorter, but
Richard Thomas
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
There's Raymond Chandler's THE BIG SLEEP, and then there's Paul Tremblay's THE LITTLE SLEEP. It's funny, the title, on so many levels.

I like detective stories, mysteries. I just read my first Lee Child, have long been a fan of John Sandford, Preston & Child, and F. Paul Wilson. Paul Tremblay holds his own against these guys, and makes the classic noir his own. Call it contemporary-noir, or neo-noir, it's a modern twist, with a great sense of humor. The narcolepsy alone is hilarious, and ever
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
A half-decent mystery novel, which is half-homage, half-parody of Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep." The mystery itself, which grafts elements of the Sternwood scandal onto a the narrative of a crooked Boston politician (gee, guess what fugitive FBI informant mobster's name gets dropped from time to time?), is predictable and rather dull, although props to Mr. Tremblay for replacing the hapless Carmen with a snotty teenage contestant in a TV singing contest. However, the hero, Mark Genevich, is ...more
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this, but it just didn't draw me in. I struggled to keep reading, though I did eventually finish. The main character is a detective who is beset with narcolepsy and I think that's a great idea that could have made for a great novel, but unfortunately, this isn't it. When I read the description, I was thinking of something along the lines of the movie Memento, with its main character beset by short-term memory loss and keeping lists of things to remember each time his cond ...more
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my new favorite authors. Get it when it comes out - I mean it. I can't wait to see what he comes out with next. It had me (and had me smiling to myself) from the second page. This is a great find. Dry, witty, and what could be more intriguing than a narcoleptic detective? That hook on the back of the book lures you in, but the writing makes you sit up and take note - this is no silly, over-the-top slapstick comedy of errors. This dude can write. I love finding an author who - I do ...more
Tom O'Connor
May 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 100-books
Just picked this up at the library on a whim, and I'm glad I did. Very original take on your classic, hardboiled detective novel. I had figured out most of the "mystery" by the end, but the characters and the story were great. It stayed true to the genre without giving up its original take on the scene, especially in the persona of the main character. I thoroughly enjoyed this book
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was fantastic - the writing was excellent and the twist on old school noir detective novels really worked for me. Mostly, though, I loved the narrative voice. I loved the use of language so much. Hopefully that kind of distinctive, interesting writing carries over to Tremblay's other novels. If so, I will definitely be reading those as well.
Michael X
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the sequel in the not too distant future. The little sleep grabbed me from page one - I only meant to have a sneak look - and ended up abandoning my other "books-on-the-go" until I'd snapped the back cover shut.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was the audio book signed by the author that I won thru a charity auction. Fantastic audio book, great production and a wonderful novel. Looking for the sequel now.
Елена Павлова
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Миналата година на декемврийския Панаир на книгата се запознах с Пол Трембли, благодарение на уникалната, размазваща "Призраци в моята глава", в чуден превод на Богдан Русев и прясно-прясно станала носител на "Брам Стокър 2015". И оттогава се заканих да прочета още нещо от този автор... та до ден днешен, когато най-сетне си угодих и разбрах, че чакането си е струвало: в самолета за МосквУ и легълцето ми там стопли "The Little Sleep" и сега алчно почвам да търся втората част.
Накратко: "Малкият съ
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
You figure out very quickly upon starting this book that what we have here is an unreliable narrator. So if you like unreliable narrators, continue on. In this book, you really can't trust what you're reading.

Mark Genevich has narcolepsy, and he has it bad. He hallucinates, he's prone to falling asleep unexpectedly, and occasionally, he's even paralyzed but alert. Yet somehow he's able to be a private detective, or at least attempts to be. His current problem is that a young woman who was a cont
Matt Glaviano
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Read because I've loved two of Tremblay's more recent novels. The premise feels like shtick (he's a detective, right, but get this... he's -- narcoleptic!), and the narrative generally follows the prescription.

A couple of things shine, though, and they're what I like about Tremblay. The protagonist's condition adds a layer of doubt to the narrative. Doubts about the trustworthiness of the narrative - all the potential holes or alternate stories just underneath - while not as deftly handled here,
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a noir story of a narcoleptic detective from Southie. For reasons I don't know, I was expecting a much more comedic tale (similar to the Fletch novels) and despite my best efforts. I was never able to shed that preconception. As a result, I wasn't able to appreciate this book for what it is. That said, Tremblay creates an interesting character with unusual circumstances and in doing so forces the reader to question how much of what Genevich experiences is real. As for the setting, Trembl ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I really liked the idea of a narcoleptic PI and I enjoyed the mysterious aspects it gave to the narrative, but the whole over explanation of the symptoms and the descriptions of sleep - really just the over explanation and detailed descriptions of mundane stuff in general - felt like too much. There were moments that were obviously suppose to be suspenseful but were just too long winded for any real suspense to form. Mark was also entirely unlikable, which may have been on purpose, but really ju ...more
Eileen O'Donohue
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
"So kid what do you think?" Sorry Paul Tremblay, you seem like a decent fellow, but your writing is too cliche for my taste. My interest was held for a bit, but then one tacky film noir bit after another, and I stopped caring about the main character. I am beginning to see a pattern with detective stories, where the investigator is not to be remotely taken seriously (The Girl on the Train for example). Also the main character emotionally disconnects from helpful people; calls his mother Ellen, l ...more
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Paul Tremblay is the author of DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL'S ROCK and the award-winning A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS. His other novels include THE LITTLE SLEEP (Henry Holt), NO SLEEP TILL WONDERLAND (Henry Holt), SWALLOWING A DONKEY'S EYE (Chizine Publications), and the YA novel FLOATING BOY AND THE GIRL WHO COULDN'T FLY (co-written with Stephen Graham Jones, as P. T. Jones).

He is the author of the short sto

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