Brian's Reviews > Stay Awake

Stay Awake by Dan Chaon
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's review
Apr 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories
Read from December 21 to 31, 2013

In a word: unsettling. It's interesting, I remember liking Await Your Reply and thinking that it was full of characters with bad decisions to make, but man, those characters have NOTHING on the poor saps that populate this collection. I read a review where someone mentioned that it took them a few stories before they realized that Chaon had created a collection of horror stories, and I definitely had the same experience. It should of course be said that these stories are not horror in the traditional sense, but rather horror in the "ordinary burdens and things that overwhelm us and can very well destroy us" sense.

As always for short story collections, highlights for me - Thinking of You In Your Time of Sorrow (quite possibly my favorite short story of my 2013 reading), Long Delayed Always Expected, Patrick Lane Flabbergasted, I Wake Up, Shepherdess. The others were decent enough, but they just didn't hit me in the same way (and I'm quite certain I didn't even GET the last story, "The Farm, the gold, the lily-white hands"). Chaon explores varying levels of grief and loss in these stories, with nearly everyone to be found in pain over a recent death and trying to find a way to survive.

Chaon is clearly a very talented writer, but I think that next time I will have to have my guard up and expect a darker narrative than I was anticipating when I first cracked this open. True horror, I suppose, is not found in the bogeymen and vampires of our imagination, but rather in the terrible things that could actually happen to us, and Chaon is able to see this in spades and describe the WORST POSSIBLE outcome of these terrible things occurring.

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Quotes Brian Liked

Dan Chaon
“It had occurred to him that if the undead don't realize that they are dead, he might easily be one of them himself.”
Dan Chaon, Stay Awake

Dan Chaon
“Even when our death is imminent, we carry the image of ourselves moving forward, alive, into the future.”
Dan Chaon, Stay Awake

Dan Chaon
“The type of person who will always be your friend, for as long as you can stand to keep disappointing her.”
Dan Chaon, Stay Awake

Dan Chaon
“You want a child because it is a link in the bridge that you are building between the past and the future, a cantilever that holds you, so that you are not alone.”
Dan Chaon, Stay Awake

Dan Chaon
“The desire to remake that shrinking expanse of life they were still allotted, to make use of it, to fill it up with possibility. Oh please: one more transformation.”
Dan Chaon, Stay Awake

Dan Chaon
“The two of you stood there, side by side, and the tectonic plates of your lives began to shift and resettle, continents separating.”
Dan Chaon, Stay Awake

Reading Progress

12/31/2013 marked as: currently-reading
12/31/2013 marked as: read

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