The Sleepworker

By Cyrille Martinez, translated by Patrick Joseph Stancil

Available from Coach House Books

A surreal parable very, very loosely based on Andy Warhol and John Giorno and the making of Sleep.

John is a poet. Only John almost never writes poems, because he is also unemployed. He lives with two friends, and they squat in a loft in New York New York, a fantastical city that resembles the Big Apple, but also any other city where artists live. They throw fabulous parties and practice group sodomy. That is, until John meets Andy.

Andy is an artist. Well, he is if you define art as something that people don't want but the artist wants to give them anyway. His work includes the Double-Murder Gun, which is just as likely to kill the shooter as the intended victim. A gallery owner with Tourette syndrome 'discovers' his work and Andy is on his way to being famous. John, on the other hand, is hard at work at being unemployed, drinking all night and sleeping all day—which leaves him very little time for writing poems. Andy, watching him sleep, has an intriguing idea for a piece of art that he thinks will allow John to get paid for what he does best.

Using the story of Andy Warhol and John Giorno and their film Sleep as a starting point, The Sleepworker reads like a Warhol film on fast-forward.

Originally from the south of France, Cyrille Martinez is a poet and novelist living in Paris. He has performed at public readings in France and abroad on the stereotypes of modern language, slang, slogans, jargon, and the like. This is his second novel.