8 thoughts on “The Stay-Awake Men – Matthew M. Bartlett

  1. 16E05B23-9836-4567-91E2-829CA1A66C7B
    A beautifully done hardback book with nearly 100 pages.


    “There were racks of candles, many melted down, only a few lit.”

    Seems emblematic of something in this story? Tallow, yellow fat, or perhaps that today in my own real-time is Candlemass Day? Meanwhile, if you do not know what to expect from Bartlett, you don’t deserve me to tell you. Even the name itself sounds like a cut of meat. This is the story of Mr LaFogg who works in a supermarket, fiftyish, unpretty, sweaty with sex glands, I guess, who seems to be a version of Alice not in Wonderland but in the most evocative butchery Cooking-Glass world you are ever likely to meat. And with a plot twist in the tail of the tale that finished it off with aplomb. All read with eyes wide shut.


    “Greyson looked about him and saw that the glass tops of the tables were spinning, faster, faster, sending the candles careening to the walls.”

    A wild but crafted story of a magician, a story for its own sake, careened to its own literary walls, in seedy hotels and old theatrical venues, with no didactic leanings, with a fine old-fashioned zine-artwork illustration, and the magician Greyson’s backstory of discipleship to SPETTRINI, and characters even today returning from screen and pubs and dreams as backdrop to the Grand Guignol finale, reminiscent of honest-to-goodness weird stories that once spread like viruses in many paper table-twirling stapled horror magazines in the 1980s and 1990s, most of them including my own fiction diseases. I am my own SPETTRINI, perhaps! I am come now to haunt others with my real-time reviews if not my plague of stories. Prestidigitating out of the woodwork of the words. I once had a cancerous rabbit inside me, too, to pluck out with panache. I called it Bobtail. Not Bartlett. But that’s me being too cock-a-hoop in my old age.

  3. B23D0BA4-3878-4F4D-B0E6-B3C5AD466D79

    “His eyes blink, quickly.”

    But not quickly enough to avoid the eyelash comma. It is only later that the eyelashes come into play, making me wince from this end of eternity to the other! This is another fine ‘for its own sake’ horror, about socially inept Merrill returning home from a New Year’s Eve party, followed by something insidiously monstrous at which Merrill’s fearful glance is portrayed above by my abridgement of its illustration. And something happens or does not happen to Merrill at the end, something perhaps even worse than that business with the eyelashes … particularly for stay-awake men?

  4. I read and reviewed the next story in November 2016 and below is what I wrote about it in the context of time and place here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/nightscript-ii/


    “After a time, the house awakens with a hum and the lights flicker bright, too bright, blinding, then back to their usual weak dimness.’

    A bit like White’s Care Home in this book and, elsewhere, Harold Billings’s Angel Bird a bit like an owl, but here in the Bartlett – Bartlett Fartlett of the amazing books I reviewed at the by-line link above, books that make your dreams filled with the most nightmarish things EVER – the owl birds multiply and are not noticed by reporters reporting other things, as this old man, and at the age of 54, by God, not just a Tem oldster, but someone utterly something else nudging up to his cat – and his grown-up daughter has fled back to him, because of her husband or is it because the creatures in the sky are homing in on them all, and death is that something else that either touches you or doesn’t, and you are not sure what to believe, with you, yes, me, dead – or not… Utterly Bartlett, squirrel in the wires, utterly this book, writ already before it was writ in or by the nightscrit.
    No abiding place on Earth for the Trump bird!


    “‘Oh man,’ he said. ‘Oh man.’”

    A Ligottian Corporate story of banal Office life, extrapolated for our Artificial Intelligence Age, with another ‘for its own sake’ horror story rounding it off, along with two nude women. Can’t help admiring this author.


    I now know that I am one of them, too. As a boy and youth in the 1950s and 1960s, sent to bed too early, I somehow controlled, by a waking or dozing power, a hub under the pavement outside the house and broadcast, to all and sundry worldwide but particularly in UK, Blue Peter ready-mades as on some future version of the Internet Radio with 3D models thus engendered. Many of us are now today such radio broadcasters with new hubs and secrets to impart at the dead of night, but it was different in the 1950s. Meanwhile, I have listened for a few years now to Nick Abbot on LBC every Friday and Saturday, who, with nightmarish tirades about Trump-Brexit (Cohark, Cohark, Cohark, Brekekexx Co-ax Co-ax) and he is one of today’s inheritors of this type of broadcasting. The Bartlett author, too, I somehow know, majors on such secret radio stations and the messages broadcast like horror stories (his award winning books attesting to this), and here is his classic attempt to adumbrate the phenomenon, with a tour of a saggy city, and a theatre, a dodgy film about a radio broadcast, and secret studios, to find leads to another one like Abbot or Bartlett, here called Rampart. Nothing will convey this story to you except the story itself, if story it is. And there are too many choice quotes to quote here.


    “Our candles guttered, some extinguishing, drawing a dismal penumbra over the room. We were getting closer.”

    “Fwoom, Fwoom” – “We’ll ride down together, human flumes, careening down…”

    A perfect circle to the two sets of candles quoted at the beginning of this real-time review, as well as this story being the perfect brief coda for the whole book, as a father and daughter, touchingly (inspiringly for us) face being born, as earlier preceded by his wife and her mother.
    Worth staying awake for.

    “Everything will open up like some great flower.”


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