The New Yorker magazine named Matt Klam one of the twenty best young writers in America, and the seven stories that comprise Sam the Cat are all the proof we need.
Knowing, perceptive, and wickedly funny, Matt Klam loves his characters but spares them nothing: the swaggering womanizer Sam falls in love with a woman across a crowded room who, upon closer inspection, turns out to be not quite what he expected; a self-doubting young professional attends the posh wedding of his successful friend and delivers a disastrous toast; the chicken one man's girlfriend is preparing for dinner comes to embody the darkly corrosive element in their relationship. These stories crackle with humor, intelligence and style and add up to an outrageously funny, unforgettable debut.
Prosperous, morally addled young Americans wallow and flail in a glossy, unsettling consumer wonderland in Klam's unnervingly dead-on debut collection of seven long stories. Capturing contemporary speech and thought patterns as few writers can, Klam practically channels his protagonists, allowing them to inhabit him rather than the other way around. In the hilarious title story, a testosterone-crazed advertising executive is forced to reconsider his sexuality when he is unexpectedly attracted to another man. Klam's choppy, declarative sentences perfectly capture the comedy of a dissolute serial monogamist raging against self-discovery and the poignant confusion that such discovery brings. In "Linda's Daddy's Loaded," a wealthy father spoils his daughter and her husband so much that the couple is nearly driven apart, longing for the days when they struggled together in relative poverty. Deftly manipulating symbols and disjunctive prose, Klam explores the existential vacuum that threatens when the American Dream is obediently followed. "The Royal Palms," an O. Henry Award-winning story, is an elegantly composed tale in which the mutely explosive disappointments of a failed marriage are silhouetted against the backdrop of a Caribbean paradise. Other psychologically penetrating entries include "Not This," about a man who relishes the possibility of donating sperm to his pompous older brother's wife, and "Issues I Dealt With in Therapy," about the reunion of two college friends at a wedding and the collision of past idealism with recent imperatives of success. Throughout the collection, Klam demonstrates his mastery of the fine art of irony, exposing the nerve endings of his complex, often tormented, sometimes funny, characters, while allowing the reader to make his or her own judgments. FYI: In 1999, Klam was named one of the 20 best young fiction writers in America by the New Yorker.