Epic Sloth

Tales of the Long Crawl

Fiction - Realistic
176 Pages
Reviewed on 09/23/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite

Philip Gaber is a writer’s writer. There is an impossibly effortless quality to his narrative in Epic Sloth: Tales from the Long Crawl which captures his New York City environs and subjects with an HD clarity normally reserved for IMAX theaters. Read one sentence - any sentence - and you will be instantly transported to a Sisyphean world so gritty and utterly real that you can taste the sweat and frustration of its myriad denizens, each trying to eke out survival and meaning in the shadow of vague oblivion. The overall effect is simultaneously mesmerizing and infuriating, with the inevitable result that putting this quirky, nihilistic book down is simply not an option.

Epic Sloth: Tales from the Long Crawl owns a reader in ways that evoke images of car wrecks and rubbernecking. It is a gloriously dystopian vision of a world that exists in spite of itself. Philip Gaber writes to survive against inconceivable odds and, to our perpetual astonishment, endures, even triumphs: from the epilogue of “Crises of Faith”: “That’s why we have an ego, to remind ourselves that we are not nothing.”

Philip Gaber’s Epic Sloth: Tales from the Long Crawl is one of the most deliriously compelling collections of vignettes, poems, and quasi flash-fiction snippets of genetically engineered memoir currently available to discerning readers; astonishingly insightful and heartwarmingly acerbic work as wise as it is self-deprecating. We find ourselves cheering for Gaber almost against our will - if the world truly is as he paints it, there is no reason to go on, and yet we must go on because hope arrives anew with every wry, jaded simile. We cannot cheer for ourselves without cheering for Gaber, too, because his courage and candor shame us out of any defensible complacency. Epic Sloth: Tales from the Long Crawl is the literary equivalent of an oxygen bar. Breathe deeply.

Tracy Slowiak

In Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl by author Philip Gaber, the reader is presented with a wonderful collection of poetical musings and short stories that is sure to engage, enlighten and entertain, tied together with the common characteristic of people searching for something. They might not quite be sure what that something is, or how to go about getting it, but they are certainly searching. Unsettled and unseasoned though some may be, they all seem to be striving for a better life or a meaning to their life, even if they don’t ever really think they’ll get there. I could see myself in some of these situations, or, at the very least, felt as if I had listened to a friend lean on me to tell me these very things, adding to my overall interest and the appeal of Mr. Gaber’s writing style.

Philip Gaber definitely appears to be a creative spirit, and that certainly comes through in Epic Sloth. Writing a work such as this, with so many unique and varying characters, stories and scenarios, is no small feat. I wish I could meet the man, just to find out how his mind works. I couldn’t put his book down. One story led to the next, and before I knew it, I was finished with the entire book. I highly recommend Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl to any reader who is a lover of short stories or really, to any lover of fiction in general. This is a book that you absolutely will not regret reading.

K.C. Finn

Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl is a collection of poetry and vignette style prose by author Philip Gaber. The collection follows a continuous narrative that chronicles the life of a poet and scriptwriter as he tries to derive meaning from life’s many experiences. The struggle of an artist is explored from many angles, including the desire to pursue creativity when normality demands that we must conform and work the daily grind the same as everyone else, and the idea of feeling strangely isolated from those around you, as though you are the only one longing to break free of the rat race. Sometimes bleak and even depressing, the content is poignant and highly emotional nonetheless.

I always enjoy reading experimental fiction, and Philip Gaber makes a superb job of creating a rule-bending narrative that still hits all the literary buttons. I really related to the narrator of Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl, in particular with the idea that life doesn’t really have morals or neatly tied up endings the way that it does when we fictionalize events. Much in the style of the choppy and sometimes confusing films of the Coen Brothers, Epic Sloth takes life on scene by scene, and even the meaningless moments begin to take meaning through Gaber’s brilliant, poignant observations. Overall, I’d say this book is a must-read for anyone looking to explore high quality experimental writing, an engrossing read that you won’t want to put down once you have begun.

Marilla Mulwane

Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl by Philip Gaber is the story of a writer struggling with life and trying to figure out if the long crawl is all worth it in the end. Along the way, he meets a large cast of characters that either affect his life or do nothing for him at all. The entire story, although there is no end to the story, is told through short vignettes and poems. It looks at life's psychological quandaries with biting, beautiful, and quote-worthy prose. The character in the story might not know if the long crawl is worth it, but Gaber certainly shows us with his writing that the long crawl is worth it for him.

Gaber's prose is short, sweet, witty, and confusing at times. The vignettes are seemingly random and never more than a few pages long. Those that are more than a few pages are often quick dialogue that doesn't fill a page. The short stories make you want to keep reading. You finish one vignette and immediately decide to delve into another. Before you know it, a few hours have passed and you've finished the book. You're hooked by the shortness, but also by the quick prose that keeps you interested. You want to read what Gaber has to say next and you don't want to stop.

I can easily imagine that the stories in Epic Sloth are based on real life and real people. It is easy to imagine Gaber interacting with people in his life, even strangers, and then sitting down at his computer and cranking out a quick bit of prose about them. Compile all those writings together and he ended up with a book. I might be wrong, but if I am, Gaber did an awesome job creating life that is very real to reader.

Chris Fischer

Wow! That’s the main thought I had when I finished reading Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl by author Philip Gaber. A highly inventive, creative and very interestingly written collection of very short stories and poetry, Epic Sloth is a book that will truly make the reader think, feel and think again. Each work in this novel seems to be tied together with the theme of those who have a somewhat unfinished life. Either they are people with a goal, but don’t have the desire to reach it, or they are people with a lot of desire, but they don’t know what they want. I can completely envision the characters, in fact, I think I know people who are extremely similar to them. That connection makes this wonderful work even more compelling.

Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl is a fantastic read. Unique, funny in places, dark in others, this collection is certainly one that will have the reader obsessively reading. In typical collection style, it is also a book that has very natural stopping points, so if you have just a few minutes, you would be able to get through a few of the offerings. However, if you’re anything like me, that’s not the way you’ll want to read this book. You’ll likely barrel through the whole thing, eager to see what ingenious author Philip Gaber has in store next.

Epic Sloth resonated with me in a way that few books do, and I am still thinking of many of the stories, many of the phrases, long after finishing the read. This book would appeal to any reader who enjoys short stories, very creative fiction with a realistic bent, or just a well-written and exceptional read in general. I recommend Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl, and I also certainly hope that author Philip Gaber is writing his next work in this vein. I, for one, will be watching for it.