Among the diverse array of subjects contributing to the sleeplessness of the characters in Michael C. Keith’s Insomnia 11 are post-death aging, ethnic cleansing, word aphasia, multi-limbed aliens, pleas from the grave, missing stone walls, extraterrestrial landing strips, high peak diving, vanished spouses, Serengeti ghosts, child abduction, suicidal monks, news bulletins, imagined illnesses, creeping senility, Steinbeck’s wraith, sedative holidays, wound sculpting, stupid AI machines, crude cultures, hillbilly haikus, evil caffeine, cabbage theory, Elvis versus the Colonel, blackface hijinks, burning artists, warehoused elders, geomagnetic sub-storms, off-shelf shopping, children in drop zones, and NRA membership. In Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross writes of spiritual crisis and the joy of being guided by God as he leaves the mortal world . . . enough to keep anyone awake. Keith likewise writes of crisis as well as joy but from a decidedly secular perspective. Fortunately, both works possess an equal amount of light to offset their often-oppressive renderings of the human condition. And then, of course, there’s the matter of the number 11 in the title. Keith’s talent for quirky and compelling observation is renowned and wholly original, and it is that which sets him apart from other practitioners of the epigrammatic story genre
Filled with negligent ne’er-do-wells, clueless intergalactic extraterrestrials, rhetorical ‘in’ jokes for readers, sundry heartbreaking goofballs, foolhardy egotists, and carefully couched wisdom, Michael C. Keith’s Insomnia 11 is a kaleidoscopic survey of our addled times, a workout for the muscles of the face, and a treasury of puzzlements and cock-eyed insights that just might keep you up all night.
––Richard Hoffman, author of Half a House: A Memoir and Interference & Other Stories
Sometimes wry, often hilarious, always entertaining, the short works in Michael Keith’s Insomnia 11 are tautly written and well-timed. Its mixture of self and others is just right––I like that expansive quality. The collection kept me up half the night.
––John Skoyles, author of Driven and A Moveable Famine
Michael C. Keith is an enchanter who casts his spell with impeccable sentences and exquisite details. He is a master of the art of abbreviation. The very short stories in Insomnia 11 are both charming and surprising, real and surreal, and are packed with illuminating irony and irresistible wit. What talent in these pages. What a spellbinding collection.
––John Dufresne, Flash: Writing the Very Short Story and Louisiana Power & Light
Reading Michael Keith’s microfictions in Insomnia 11 is like sipping from a flask of unknown provenance: whether you think you’ve sampled a magic elixir offering eternal life or believe you might have been tricked into swallowing poison, the joke’s on you. For Keith, the joke––hilarious and prophetic, wise and unsettling––has always been on all of us, and always will be. The tantalizing tidbits comprising Insomnia 11 left me tickled and tortured, filling my own sleepless night of reading with pleasurable anxiety.
––Greg Wolos, author of Women of Consequence and Turnpike
Keith excels at very lean and varied narratives on the human condition. He endears many of his pieces to us through his frequent and powerful use of black humor. His sardonic wit and honed faculty in the art of storytelling is exceptional.
––The Colorado Review
by Michael C. Keith
$21.95, paperback, ~200 pp.