Author Nick Mamatas’ latest book The People’s Republic of Everything is another must read by the talented writer whose family hails from Ikaria. He spoke with The National Herald about his new book and the Greek-American aspects of some of the stories in the collection.
Mamatas told TNH, “The People's Republic of Everything includes a couple of stories about the Greek-American experience, or at least a Greek-American experience— The Phylactery, about a Greek-American man giving his child a filakto, and North Shore Friday which is a science fiction story set in the Ikarian-American enclave on Long Island. The short novel included, Under My Roof, is a modern-dress version of Aristophanes' The Acharnians. There's also plenty of dark fantasy and science fiction stories along the lines of the old Twilight Zone TV series and historical fiction as well.”
For those unfamiliar with the term, a “filakto” is traditionally a small cloth pouch made in a monastery and pinned to a baby’s clothes to ward off evil, like an amulet.
Among the 15 compelling stories in the book, North Shore Friday is especially entertaining with solid characters, touches of Greek, and a bit of “typographic trickery” as Mamatas describes it which draws the reader deeper into the thoughts of the characters and heightens the intensity of the story. “I have always been a sucker for typographic trickery,” Mamatas noted in the book, adding that “any book or story that features a disruption of layout immediately attracts my interest.”
The collection also features stories about a hitman who always tells the truth, no matter how reality has to twist itself to suit; electric matchstick girls who have teamed up with Friedrich Engels; a telepathic boy and his father’s homemade nuclear bomb; a very bad date that births an unforgettable meme; a dog who simply won’t stop howling on social media; and the author’s preferred text of the acclaimed short novel Under My Roof.
Also by Mamatas, I Am Providence is a wonderfully-constructed mystery, combining horror elements from Lovecraft with Mamatas’ own mordant wit in an homage/criticism, and the charming collection Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (and Flash Fiction) for the Discerning Drinker (and Reader) compiled by Mamatas and Molly Tanzer.
Mamatas novels include I Am Providence, The Last Weekend, Love is the Law, The Damned Highway, Sensation, Bullettime, Under My Roof, and Move Under Ground. He has written numerous short fiction that has been published in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction and Tor.com, lit journals including New Haven Review and subTERRAIN, and anthologies such as Hint Fiction and Best American Mystery Stories 2013. Mamatas has been nominated for the Bram Stoker award five times, the Hugo Award twice, the World Fantasy Award twice, and the Shirley Jackson, International Horror Guild, and Locus Awards. He is an anthologist and editor: The Future Is Japanese and Haunted Legends (with Ellen Datlow). His joke/reference books: Insults Every Man Should Know and Quotes Every Man Should Know have sold thousands of copies. Mamatas lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The People's Republic of Everything is available online.