Litchfield reviews ‘When I Can’t Sleep’ for the Colorado Review

On When I Can’t Sleep:
“In this supremely entertaining collection of bite-size yarns that combine humor, pathos, and razor-sharp reverie, prize-winning micro fiction maestro Robert Garner McBrearty stirs and startles and makes the reader shake with laughter. When it comes to real short, real brutal, poignant and punchy works of comic cleverness, McBrearty is the grand cabana, the big cheese, the ring to rule them all.” —Nicholas Litchfield, editor of Lowestoft Chronicle

Some years ago, shortly after reading his riotously comic and absurdist short novel The Western Lonesome Society, I got the opportunity to interview McBrearty. We had a lengthy and rewarding conversation about some of the characters and plot threads in his book, and I confess I could have asked him many more questions. He’s given a lot of interviews over the years, and touched on a great deal of the themes and ideas in his stories, but I just know he’ll have plenty more unsaid things to share about his work. Perhaps, someday, we’ll get the chance to talk more about his fiction.

In terms of When I Can’t Sleep, which contains thirty flash-fiction pieces, some of which are previously unpublished, I can honestly say that at least half a dozen rank as the best McBrearty has written. One of these, which I’m very proud to have been able to publish in issue #39 of Lowestoft Chronicle, is his deeply touching and life-affirming little masterpiece “Mr. O’Brien’s Last Soliloquy.” It’s a short, gut-wrenching monologue in which a ninety-four-year-old man, reflecting on the events that marked his life, voices his sorrows and regrets and offers pertinent advice.

I discuss this story and McBrearty’s other fine tales from When I Can’t Sleep in my book review in the Colorado Review, which came out today. You can read the full, in-depth review here: https://coloradoreview.colostate.edu/reviews/when-i-cant-sleep/

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