Jim Krusoe writes novels that have events and characters and themes but they are not strong on traditional plot. Much like the picaresque, Kruse has his characters define themselves, interact, move from even to event, but without a strong goal. There is no quest. Who is the picaro in The Sleep Garden? Did the title give away the deep, hidden theme of the story?
The Sleep Garden is about a small number of somewhat quirky individuals that find affordable housing in an apartment building underground referred to as The Barrow. Each tenant enjoys an activity which allows them to stay at home, never venturing outside the barrow. There are men and women which often interact. One woman, in fact, seems to have been the rotating love interest of at least three of the guys.
Add this to the central kitchen where food stuffs appear each morning and one tenant that seems to have dedicated herself to cooking for the underground crowd, and the reader’s suspicions begin to question the narrative until it all becomes clear as the novel ends.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading The Sleep Garden even though it seemed so obvious so early on. I suppose, like with other books, I began to pay more attention to how the author was writing and not worry too much about the narrative. Besides, I like Jim Krusoe and recommend him to all my friends, especially those that want a good read, imaginative but not too weird, and not too many words. Try him.