Klam, Matthew 1964-
KLAM, Matthew 1964-
Born 1964; married; wife's name, Lara (a psychologist). Education: Attended University of New Hampshire and Hollins College.
Journalist and author of short fiction. Teacher of creative writing at St. Albans School, American University, and Stockholm University.
O. Henry Award, for "Royal Palms;" New York Times Book of the Year citation, and Los Angeles Times Book of the Year finalist, both 2000, both for Sam the Cat, and Other Stories; Giles Whiting Foundation Award for emerging writers, 2001; Robert Bingham/PEN Award; National Endowment for the Arts grant.
Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Harper's, New Yorker, Washington Post Magazine, and New York Times Magazine.
In the short-story collection Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, Matthew Klam takes a clear-eyed, ironic look at modern love and tormented men. The title story of the collection, "Sam the Cat," is about a lonely man searching for love in an attempt to find comfort in his life. At a bar, Sam's eyes follow a pair of attractive legs from the floor up, and he becomes convinced that this is the woman he has been looking for. But when the head belonging to the legs turns, Sam finds himself staring into the face of another man. "There Should be a Name for It" finds a couple learning to reconcile with the superficiality of the emotions underlying their marriage. Klam's O. Henry Award-winning story "Royal Palms" finds the story's narrator sitting on a Caribbean beach as his marriage flounders. Klam's stories, which previously were published in the New Yorker, serve as a "reminder that the wealth of the American upper middle class, and the suburban materialism of its lifestyle is not old news," noted Lorrie Moore in her New York Review of Books appraisal of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories. Rather, Moore continued, in his fiction Klam addresses an affluence that "is unprecedented, socially and globally isolating in a manner that is new, overwhelming, and sinister to those looking on." Dubbing the collection "smart" and "absorbing," New York Times Book Review contributor D. T. Max commented: "If Matthew Klam's first story collection is to be believed … this is an awful time to be a young man."
A contributor to Publishers Weekly noted that in Sam the Cat, and Other Stories "Klam demonstrates his mastery of the fine art of irony, exposing the nerve endings of his complex, often tormented, sometimes funny, characters while allowing the reader to make his or her own judgments." In a review for Booklist, Nancy Pearl wrote that, "At their best … the stories truthfully convey our conflicted feelings about those we supposedly love the most. Klam's characters are all vividly and vocally both neurotic and depressed.… Even readers who are themselves neurotic and depressed will want to reach into the stories and shake these annoying characters until they snap out of whatever is dragging them down—which speaks to how successfully Klam brings them to life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2000, Nancy Pearl, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 1728.
Harper's Bazaar, May, 2000, Katherine Dieckmann, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 118.
New York Review of Books, November 16, 2001, Lorrie Moore, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 32.
New York Times Book Review, June 11, 2000, D. T. Max, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 38; June 17, 2000, Scott Veale, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly, April 24, 2000, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 59.
US, June 5, 2000, Melanie Rehak, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 55.
Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2000, Ken Bensinger, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. W9.
Washington Post Book World, July 16, 2000, James Hynes, review of Sam the Cat, and Other Stories, p. 5.
Matthew Klam Web site,http://www.matthewklam.com (February 21, 2004).*