I'm Not Sam Paperback – 1 Oct 2012
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They love one another deeply and although they are unable to have children they live a complete and fulfilled adult life in their remote but plush detached house.
One night they go to bed as usual but the next day when Patrick wakes up he finds Sam sat down sobbing and when he approaches her to find out what is wrong it quickly becomes clear that Sam has had some sort of breakdown.
For although she is physically in perfect shape, mentally she is not. She does not recognise him, nor does she accept the name Sam. As far as she is concerned her name is Lily and Lily is aged 6.
At first Patrick takes her to see their family doctor, who can find nothing wrong with her, apart from a certain degree of what on face value appears to be selective memory loss, with the fact that she has the mind and cognitive abilities of a little girl.
Has she had a breakdown?
Is she suffering from some sort of rapid onset Multiple Personality Disorder?
Is she possessed?
Patrick does not know, but he intends to find out why and try to bring back his wife, Sam, at any cost...
This was really good, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Superb.
It's weird, disturbing, funny and upsetting.
The premise of your perfectly normal, fully grown wife and life partner suddenly reverting to a happy little girl that refuses to accept she is anyone other than, Lily, aged 6, is really quite unsettling. Lily has all the urges a normal 6 year old has, she wants to play with dollies and eat peanut jelly sandwiches. She is naive and happy in her own little world. But Patrick also loves his wife deeply and he also has urges and wants her back from wherever she has disappeared to, whilst desperately trying not to scare, upset or hurt Lily in any way.
The book asking some deeply disturbing moral questions, certainly around love and sex, and like I said, I found it genuinely quite emotional at times.
Great book. The author asks that you leave a break in between reading 'I'm Not Sam' and 'Who's Lily' (a sort of bonus epilogue that comes as a short story accompanying the novella) and I can see why.. Because there's a good reason.
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Samantha and Patrick have been married for eight years and between them they own a special older and arthritic cat, called Zoey. (Zoey is mentioned at this point because she's an integral part of this tale). These last eight years have been wonderful with their compatibility growing into a wonderful love, a special friendship, and great sex... well, not just great sex, but sex with orgasmic climaxes of galactic proportions. All is well in this heavenly union, until one morning Patrick awakes to find Sam changed. And when he calls her name to ask her what's wrong, she stares at him as she would a stranger and announces 'I'm not Sam'... and from this point their lives change forever.
Some thoughts on "I'm not Sam"...
1.) it is a beautifully written and brilliantly told piece of literature. A quasi-thriller if you will. A book in which I could barely wait to turn the page and at the same time, apprehensive as to that I was going to find there. The material of goosebumps!
2.) a sense of pace and timing that is superb.
3.) while a truly interesting and intriguing tale in its own right, it is the author's ability to relate the main character's (Patrick) observations that is the main focal point of this short work... his insightful comments about intimate situations and relationships.
4.) I thought that the use of the sexually related vernacular was not only justified but completely appropriate as it applied to the relationship between Sam and Patrick. The prose had a definitive erotic quality to it in many places.
5.) some terrific character development, particularly of Patrick. I thought some of his observations were incredibly perceptive and insightful.
6.) an end sequence that is exquisite!
7.) cover art... an image that I initially thought tended to misleads the reader away from the stunningly complex tale within. Superficially, the cover looked to me... well, in a word... smutty. However, after reading the story, the attention to some of the details found in this image fit the tale perfectly... although that being said, I'm not sure something a little less 'risqué' might have been equally effective. It's the type of image that could turn some readers completely off... with the result they'd be missing something quite special.
A wonderful tale wound around Sam and Patrick's special relationship (and to a limited degree their cat, Zoey). It's a tale that focuses on the human senses... in this case the sense of touch. Our skin, with its exquisite sensitivity to the lightest of caresses (or negatively, the most crude, fumbling grasp), has the ability to interpret the inner-most and private emotions of those its wearer permits the privilege of contact. Maybe one of mankind's greatest gifts.
A stunning short work.
As it is... 5 Stars
But this Bram Stoker Award-nominated novella is about to turn very dark. For when Sam awakens the next morning, she isn't Sam. She insists she's Lily, and behaves like a five or six-year-old girl. Patrick has no idea what to do. He takes her to the doctor, and eventually for a brain scan, and she checks out as physically healthy. But Patrick is reluctant to follow through on the doctor's referral to a psychological therapist, hoping to bring her to herself through his own efforts.
Patrick doesn't fully appreciate how difficult this will be. The body from whom that young girl's voice and thoughts are issuing is the body of his beloved wife. The artlessness of a typical child makes it difficult for him to control his sexual impulses; Lily wants him to wash her hair, or to fasten the back of her bathing suit, or even to sleep in his bed when she's frightened. But he manages. He buys a house full of toys, fixes the unused swingset in the yard, and watches over her when she swims in the river. He even teaches her how to properly pet their old, arthritic cat so that the cat isn't hurt.
It's a strange situation, and Patrick's refusal to take Sam to a therapist is even stranger. It's not clear what he expects will happen, though he keeps trying to jog her memory. One day, Lily discovers Sam's clothes and wants to play dress-up. Patrick notices that she chooses Sam's favorites, and decides to make another attempt to bring her back to herself. What follows from that decision is like a kick to the stomach.
The authors ask that the reader stop there, at the end of the first part of this novella, for at least a few minutes, a few hours, even a few days. Read on to "Who's Lily?" if you must, they say -- your questions might be answered there, but they might not. It's an odd request to make, perhaps even a little hokey; I did as the authors requested and let half an hour expire before I went on to read the second section, but noted no real difference in my appreciation of the tale as a result. It's still a shocking take, and there are still no clear-cut rights and wrongs here, no complete solutions. The lingering uncertainty regardless of the passage of time is what makes this story so horrific.
Originally published at Fantasy Literature website. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
This short story, which includes a follow up that the authors suggest you allow time for an "intermission" before reading, introduces us to Patrick and Sam. A married couple who are still in love with each other, even after 8 years. After a romantic evening that ends well for both, they go to sleep and Patrick finds out just how quick his world can turn upside down.
I don't want to give away too much, this book is a short ride and I don't do spoiler alerts, but Patrick's dillemma and the choices he makes in dealing with Sam's complete mental breakdown will keep you turning the pages. The moral and social implications are deep. What would Patrick do can so easily become what would I do or what would you do.
If you enjoy a good psychological thriller that forces you to think about your own moral compass, don't hesitate in giving this book a shot.