- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Foxhead Books (August 22, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1940876087
- ISBN-13: 978-1940876085
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.4 inches
On a couple downtown subway rides I read Where Alligators Sleep. I first got locked into the short story “Case Study” about a railway foreman who has a tamping iron go through his eye and out the top of his head. When the injured man sneezes at the doctor’s office, a teacup full of his brains hit the floor. The foreman survives his injuries and uses the tamping iron as a weapon, when killing a man with it while working for the circus. These are the kinds of things that Sheldon Lee Compton is fixated on, the dark circle of one’s life and the ramifications of cruel and random dread. The narrator in “Case Study” is a man who says, “It’s fear that makes us the most human. I’d trade a thousand peaceful nights for one second of fear.”
Where Alligators Sleep concentrates on hard lives. Hard lives written well. I’ve read a lot of flash fiction in the last few years and most of it hovers on the fridges of the bizarre, the other worldly, the near-supernatural. Where Alligators Sleep is different. Sheldon Lee Compton is mostly a realist, writing about reality and all of its ugly consequence.
Stories here strike a match in a dark room. Even when the narrator is a famous gunman/folk hero, as in “Billy the Kid After the Photo Shoot” where Billy explains, as only a gunman can, what true love is and why you’d kill a person for telling you to stop grinning, or, why you wouldn’t kill them. In “Textbook” a girl suffers through biology class, her mind on a bigger problem of her own, than a mouse about to get eaten by a boa constrictor.