So Many Ways to Sleep Badly

So Many Ways to Sleep Badly

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Gay Marriage: Progression or Digression?

"A federal judge ruled yesterday that California's same sex marriage ban - known as Proposition 8 - was unconstitutional. Gay marriage opponents have pledged to appeal the case and it is widely expected to end up before the Supreme Court. Bishop Yvette Flunder of Refuge Ministries in San Francisco, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of 'That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation,' offer their perspectives on the ruling and how it may affect the gay community."

-Tell Me More, National Public Radio Aug 5, 2010

Q&A with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

"Indefatigable queer activist and gender bender Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the award-winning author of Pulling Taffy and the acclaimed editor of several edgy anthologies, including 'Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity' and 'Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write About Their Clients.' Her latest book—the brilliantly sexy 'So Many Ways to Sleep Badly'—is about sex and sex work, friendship and danger and loving among the ruins of an assimilated, 'post-gay' San Francisco."

-Julia Bloch, Curve Magazine Sep 2, 2010

Wild Wild Left Radio #78 GLBT Mindbend - An Interview with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

"Mattilda was recently interviewed on NPR and Pacifica where she talked about the malevolence of the mainstream gay marriage/military/ordination-to-the-priesthood movement, resisting the violence of assimilation, gender fascism, gay hyperconsumerism, sex work, myopic liberals, defiant ways of loving, the failure of the 'gay liberation movement', US imperialism, creating oppositional culture, challenging all hierarchies (including anarchist hierarchies), incest, and more!"

-Diane G., Wild Left Radio #78 GLBT Mindbend Aug 27, 2010

Pride Day Special

"Hear the voices of radical queers examing what a radical Queer movement would look at as well as the voices of radical LGBT activists. From Old Lesbians Organizing for Change to the voices of Queer scholars and activists providing a critique of the mainstream 'Gay Agenda.' We will provide a progressive Queer critique of the mainstream gay movement and look at what radical LGBT activists are saying and doing." With an interview from Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore an hour into the broadcast.

-KFPA, 94.1 Jun 27, 2010

A 'Queer' Argument Against Marriage

"Marriage equality has become a central pillar of the modern gay rights movement. Five states and the District of Columbia offer same sex marriages and a case involving California's ban on gay marriage is expected to end up in the Supreme Court. But despite recent advances, not all gay people are so eager to ring the wedding bells. Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, self-described queer activist and author of 'That's Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation,' says gay people should stop fighting to uphold what she considers to be the failed institution of marriage." 

- Michel Martin, NPR Jun 10, 2010

The Best LGBT Books of 2009: 56 Writers Select their Favorites

"Gary Indiana (The Shanghai Gesture): Essentialist fiction writers disgust me. I like the novel So Many Ways To Sleep Badly by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore."

-Gary Indiana, Band of Thebes Dec 2, 2009

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore reads from So Many Ways to Sleep Badly

Listen to a recording of Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's reading at Moe's Books.

-Moe's Books Jan 27, 2009

50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World

"More than Marriage
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, queer activist

We've heard just two sides of the gay-marriage debate—conservative talk-radio homophobes versus attractive same-sex couples—because the voices of queer people who are against marriage are consistently drowned out. This perspective is most raucously and frequently espoused by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, an outspoken critic of what she calls 'gay assimilationists' who cast marriage—with its '1950s model of white-picket-fence 'we’re just like you’ normalcy'—as the GLBT issue."

-Utne Reader Oct 27, 2008

Queer roots at McGill
"San Francisco scribe Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore draws on a deep well of queer activism. 'I feel a strong connection to the '80s experimental radical queer writers like David Wojnarowicz,' says Sycamore.
'When I first read his writing, right after he died, I sensed in his work my feeling of a bit of hope in the world of loss, and also my rage at the world. There’s also a connection in my activism to both fringe ’70s gay liberation and Act Up, which was the formation of my queer politics and of being able to talk about race and class and gender as one unit.'"
-Montreal Mirror Oct 30, 2008

The Shorty Q&A With Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

"Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore started out as Matt Bernstein before becoming an author and an activist. She was one of the early organizers of Gay Shame, which, among other things, takes a stance against marriage in all forms. She is the author of the novel Pulling Taffy, as well as the editor of four nonfiction anthologies. Her latest novel So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is a stream-of-consciousness roll through the underbelly of San Francisco, one that tourists and many residents never see: tweakers, tricks, pimps, and johns roam the streets till dawn then show up the next day for yoga, go shopping (or occasionally shoplift) at Whole Foods, and hang out with the sea lions."

-Sona Avakian, The Rumpus Jan 26, 2009

Book Marks Top 10s of 2008

"Sycamore's fabulously flamboyant (and totally untraditional) novel charts the insouciant life of a politically spirited, sexually tempestuous under-30 San Francisco gender-queer activist—and sometime hustler— with bitchy wit, careful attention to hairstyle, and a lush prowess with prose."

-Richard Labonte Dec 15, 2008

Queer reading list, fall 2008
"Several gay fiction-writers are returning to print this season. Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein is back with the novel So Many Ways to Sleep Badly. . . "
-Gregg Shapiro, Bay Area Reporter Online Oct 9, 2008

No Shame On You
"Gay Pride still probably scares the white off rice in some places, so just imagine what effect Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore has on people. Sycamore is so deep in a left-wing analysis of lawless sexuality that Gay Shame probably doesn't always live up to this local author's standards. In a new novel (the second, after Pulling Taffy), people fuck "with such conviction and attention to detail!" raves Robert Glück. So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is published by City Lights, the same bunch of crazies who put out Allen Ginsberg's Howl."
-Hiya Swanhuyser, SF Weekly Oct 6, 2008

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore: So Many Ways to Sleep Badly
"Imagine the scene: you're taking part in a huge Pride march, an occasion where LGBT people can take to the streets, wave their rainbow flags, and celebrate being out and proud - a glorious gathering of gayness. Only, all of a sudden, the march is confronted with a roadblock made out of sofas and what appears to be a seven foot tall can of Budweiser that invites you inside it with the slogan 'Vomit Out Budweiser Pride and the Selling of Queer Identities.' Yes, you've just stumbled across Gay Shame, and if you can't make it to the Budweiser vomitorium then there are handy Gay Shame vomit bags being given out. . . One of the notable people behind Gay Shame's creation is Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. She's an author, editor, activist, sex worker, and gender radical extraordinaire, who describes herself as 'an insomniac with dreams.'"
-Alma Cork, The Skinny Sep 26, 2008

An Excerpt from "So Many Ways to Sleep Badly"
"Editor's note: If you've never experienced Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, you’re missing out on a remarkable San Francisco storyteller. Her live performances are exciting, edge-of-your-seat grit about The City. She makes it seem like some effortless random stream of consciousness, but don’t be fooled – this is a genuine, thoughtful rollercoaster of joy and pain, provocation and hilarity. Mattilda’s newest book So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is published by San Francisco ’s City Lights Publishers, the same legendary press that brought us the Beats. Here’s an excerpt from the new book.

"Layer Cakes"

Asked on the BBC how she feels about the sniper who shot and killed three people in the D.C. area, a Virginia woman says: I don’t think he has any regard for human life! Benjamin says make sure you quote me—but honey, you already asked me to change your name! "
-Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, SoMa Literary Review Sep 5, 2008

Interview with Matt Bernstein Sycamore, Gay Activist and Author of So Many Ways To Sleep Badly
"Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the author of So Many Ways to Sleep Badly published in September 2008 by City Lights I recently got a chance to talk to Mattilda about the new book.

Mattilda: So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is definitely portraying a queer world that doesn't fit into the smiling gay 'we're just like you' mentality — things like anonymous sex and sex work and gender transgression and political instigation are just givens to the narrator and the other characters, and I wanted to portray this world on its own terms, without explication or justification or some kind of simplified reversal where bad is good and good is bad — instead everything gets a bit messed up, including language and narrative and plot and voice and structure."
-Carole McDonnell, BlogCritics Magazine Aug 28, 2008

Fall books preview
October fiction

...Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights)...
-Oscar Villalon, San Francisco Chronicle Aug 31, 2008

Fall Arts Preview with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
"SFBG: What are your plans for this fall?

MATTILDA BERNSTEIN SYCAMORE: I'm going on a crazy cross-country book tour, starting with the book launch Oct. 8 at City Lights — check my Web site ( for details."
-SF Bay Guardian Aug 27, 2007

Reasons NOT to Participate in Your Own 'Cultural Erasure'
"[Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore] explained, 'The whole fight over gay marriage, to me, is really an example of a fundamental shift of resources in the wrong direction.'

'So, where we have the people with the most access to power deciding what everyone else needs, and saying the most ridiculous kind of rhetoric like 'oh, well now we're finally full citizens' - meaning for the richest white gays and lesbians with nice stock portfolios. If that is their main concern then sure, gay marriage, might be this last thing they need, this tax break. But that whole rhetoric around who belongs, the whole thing about citizenship, it’s like…did you happen to notice that one of the biggest issues going on in the U.S. right now is about undocumented people being forced out based on their citizenship status? While at the same time these people are like, we’ve solved these issues,' Mattilda continued."
-Tye Anderson, Aug 17, 2008

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on Swedish TV!
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore discusses queer activism on Swedish TV.
-Ulf Mattmar, SVT Aug 4, 2008

Better Know a Contributor: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
"Speaking of books, tell us more about your new book That's Revolting. What inspired you to write the book?

That's Revolting is a radical queer intervention in the culture wars. As the gay establishment prioritizes the attainment of straight privilege over all else, it drains queer identity of any meaning, relevance, or cultural value. So I've gotten desperate, okay?
. . .
And that's not all -- City Lights is publishing my new novel in October -- it's called So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, and it's more than a little bit autobiographical."
-The Bilerico Project Jul 13, 2008

Down with legitimacy: Want to define love, commitment, family, and sexual merrymaking on your own terms? Honey, that's so last century
"Now that the California Supreme Court has struck down the ban on same-sex marriage, everywhere we hear of couples who've been together 10, 20, or 30 years (or six months) rushing to tie the knot and proclaim: 'finally ... it's ... legitimate!' It's hard to imagine a more wholehearted rejection of queer struggles to create defiant ways of living and loving, lusting for and caring for one another — methods not dependent on inclusion in the dominant institutions of straight privilege."
-Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, SF Bay Guardian Jun 25, 2008