John Toomey’s debut novel, Sleepwalker, is a fable of spiritual decay and its emotional toll, a send-up of those coming into adulthood at a particular generational and socioeconomic point that offered them the life of their dreams, and their crushing disappointment when they come face-to-face with the lack of imagination that keeps them from doing so.
Sleepwalker is told by a bland yet unforgivingly observant narrator, documenting the downward spiral of antihero Stuart Byrne. Paralyzed with apathy, Stuart handles his successful if mind numbing career and a series of events in his love life – ranging from an unexpected pregnancy to confronting his “platonic” relationship with his best friend, Rachel – with exponential ineptitude and helplessness. It is a feat of Toomey’s spot-on black humor and emotional generosity that the superficial and selfish Stuart is neither despicable or pitiable, but deeply familiar. – Kara Rota (272 p. / Dalkey Archive Press)