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Matthew Klam:
Sam the Cat
Matthew Klam
  Sam the Cat  
Matthew Klam    











  When I first saw Matt Klam he was reading from his novel-in-progress (as yet untitled) at a party sponsored by McSweeney's, at Galapagos in Brooklyn. It was my intention to capture his image on a disposable camera I had for the occasion, but an accumulation of circumstances--distance from the subject, lack of ambient light, and the formidable height of the man and woman immediately in front of me--conspired to produce nothing more than a few grainy photographic disasters whose digital versions are not included here, in preference of some from the author's own collection.

One piece of dialogue Mr. Klam read that night--a bit of sex talk uttered by a woman in a passion--has remained with me since that evening: "No. Please. Help me. I love you." This fragment came repeatedly to mind as I read the "long stories" of Matt Klam's debut collection, Sam the Cat, because it illustrates the ambivalent treatment of love and sex in his stories. Love is a sexy memory in the past, a scintillating hope in the future, but in the present, a frequent source of anguish. Rarely has a writer so effectively treated love and sex at the same time. His marriage of the themes provoked indignation in some of the New Yorker editors who first read his work, but admiration in most; and his provocative (but not prurient) subject matter has kept his stories in the favor of that magazine long after his original advocate, Bruce Gottlieb, left.

The stories in Sam the Cat are narrative acts of self-exposure, intimate confessions of the type you might hear from a friendly stranger over drinks in a dark room, which I believe is why his reading the night I saw him at Galapagos was so effective. The wall-to-wall crowd, giggly and slightly (in my case moderately) buzzed, nevertheless felt, in the brief pause between "Help me" and "I love you," a thrilling mix of anxiety and expectancy. After "I love you," from the tall couple in front of me blocking my photographs, a tiny noise could be heard. A sigh, perhaps. Or a gasp.

In this issue of Bold Type, Matt Klam offers a live reading of "Issues I Dealt With in Therapy", recorded at the bookstore Politics & Prose in Washington, DC. He also offers another of his stories from Sam the Cat, "There Should Be a Name For It."



--Anson Lang

To visit Matthew Klam's own Web site, click here.
 
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  Photo of Matthew Klam copyright © Cade Martin

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