Sleeping While Standing by Taki Soma
Published by Avery Hill
In his introduction to this book, Brian Michael Bendis compares the stories of Taki Soma to his favourite short, loud, angry hardcore punk songs “you know those songs that are only, like, a minute ten. A short burst of rrrrrrage energy aaaaaand done.”. Well I can tell you that reading Sleeping While Standing took me the exact length of Scream Real Loud (Live) – a live album by seminal hardcore band Seven Seconds.
There is certainly a kind of spare economy in the telling of these largely autobiographical stories. Among the tales are stories of trauma, struggle and darkness so the shorter format maybe makes these tales more bearable. Childhood rejection, parental suicide, sexual violence and serious illness are all tackled in starkly titled stories. DEMON, ADDICT, MURDER, RAPE, DARKNESS.
Taki Soma explains to us that she found telling these stories of her life to be therapeutic. Getting it down on paper in just a few pages. A life told in scraps and fragments – which is how most of us experience life. A few memories stand out and a lot is forgotten. It’s there on the page, it still exists but is somehow lighter.
Life isn’t all darkness of course. There is also love, fun, friendship, humour and cats; all of which are dealt with in the book. The author is by all accounts a very funny person. Responding to the suggestion from Bendis that she shows more humour in her work she agrees but remarks “I haven’t even gotten to the really dark ones yet”.
Visually there are some impressively composed pages in Sleeping While Standing. A feverish Taki gripped by a hallucination of a demon somehow makes her way to the purifying snow outside her door. Panels are formed from alien entrails or blueprints or they are contained within shattered glass.
Colours reflect the mood of the stories, green and yellow for a tale of zombies, greys and browns for a story of suicide. Some colours had a flatness that can come through the digital process unfortunately.
Sleeping While Standing is a book you will remember. A book about life and how to cope with what it throws at you. Scream real loud.
Sleeping While Standing will be published on 14th July 2022 (UK) 21st July 2022 (US)