This Is the Dream is a collection of ten short stories and novellas that explore the depths of the human psyche, our desires, and our struggle for identity. Dreams, and our relationship to them, function as the recurring theme that binds Thomas’ stories together, but the subject matter of each narrative varies from story to story. Whether by a school field trip, a collection of letters, or a divorce, Thomas uses ordinary circumstances as a vehicle to communicate what’s beneath the veil of our mundane interactions and reflections thereof. Although the stories’ events are grounded, each one sees its characters reaching for something liminal.
Thomas’ collection isn’t as much about dreams as one might expect, and we’re all the better for it. Instead, he finds a way to do the impossible: he puts into words the otherwise indescribable, abstract connectedness that we feel to the lives we live while we’re asleep. The one that follows us into our waking life and calls us to ask difficult questions and dig beneath the surface. In other words, This Is the Dream is more concerned with the link between our dreams and our real lives — our subconscious.
Thomas adroitly explores themes of identity and human desire, making them more accessible in his use of humor and his ability to ground those themes in his recurring device of the dream and the recounting of dreams, among other techniques. He dedicates the book to George Clooney, assuring he means, “no offense,” and immediately setting forth the light, tongue-in-cheek tone that persists throughout much of the collection and otherwise dense themes. His prose, however, is anything but dense. Although Thomas does employ long, often complex sentences, he manages to find a unique balance of both cerebral and physical, even playful, active language. In fact, his writing style perfectly mirrors his narrative approach to the metaphysical themes he is exploring throughout the collection. His sentences sometimes deceptively read like stream of consciousness while actually conveying rather cogent ideas and actions quite vividly. Conversely, he embeds rather straightforward, universal human truths in the seemingly indecipherable mess of the subconscious and the juxtaposition between who we are and who we think we are. The result is a unique narrative voice that forces the obscure into the light, suggesting that, perhaps, these ideas aren’t so arcane after all. In this way, Thomas appeals to quite a wide audience; with characters that stand on their own.
This Is the Dream presents ten unique stories and novellas, which each, in their own way, challenge readers to dig just a little bit deeper. Thomas’ rich narratives move you to feel something and, then, ask you to consider what it means to feel at all.