cover image So Many Ways to Sleep Badly

So Many Ways to Sleep Badly

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, . . City Lights, $15.95 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-87286-468-9

Novelist (Pulling Taffy ) and nonfiction anthologist (Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity ) Sycamore is back with an ambitious but less-than-compelling satire of drug-fueled, gender-bending San Francisco subculture. The narrator, who may or may not be genetically female, fills days and many late nights with relentless sexual encounters and vivid ruminations concerning random sex, hustling, cocaine and other party drugs; occasionally, she takes time out for a rare healthy habit, vikram yoga, and to worry about her apartment's roach-and-rodent infestation. Obviously inspired by the stream-of-consciousness and day-in-the-life classics of Joyce, Woolf and Beckett, here the pointed commentary falls flat; the problem isn't San Francisco's eccentric denizens, but Sycamore's profane meanderings, too much of which isn't especially insightful or funny. The narrator takes far too long to move beyond the bitchy play-by-play, making sure that, by the time Sycamore introduces genuine stakes, readers will already feel too bored and browbeaten to care. (Oct.)