Sleepless - A Memoir of Insomnia - Marie Darrieussecq



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Sleepless - A Memoir of Insomnia - Marie Darrieussecq, translated by Penny Hueston / ISBN 9781635901771 / 284-page paperback published by Semiotext(e)


"Marie Darrieussecq invites us on an extended patrol of the corridors of Hotel Insomnia in the company of the ghosts of the famous sleep-deprived, then turns to the story of her own intimate tussle with sleep that will not come. Amid the torrent of publications in the new sleep science, this is the only book I know that concedes to sleep its proper majesty and its own dark poetry."—J. M. Coetzee

A restless inquiry into the cultural and psychic sources of insomnia by one of contemporary French literature’s most elegant voices.

Plagued by insomnia for twenty years, Marie Darrieussecq turns her attention to the causes, implications, and consequences of sleeplessness: a nocturnal suffering that culminates at 4 a.m. and then defines the next day. “Insomniac mornings are dead mornings,” she observes. Prevented from falling asleep by her dread of exhaustion the next day, Darrieussecq turns to hypnosis, psychoanalysis, alcohol, pills, and meditation. Her entrapment within this spiraling anguish prompts her inspired, ingenious search across literature, geopolitical history, psychoanalysis, and her own experience to better understand where insomnia comes from and what it might mean. There are those, she writes, in Rwanda, whose vivid memories of genocide leave them awake and transfixed by complete horror; there is the insomnia of the unhoused, who have nowhere to put their heads down. The hyperconnection of urban professional life transforms her bedroom from a haven to a dormant electrified node.

Ranging between autobiography, clinical observation, and criticism, Sleepless is a graceful, inventive meditation by one of the most daring, inventive novelists writing today.

Marie Darrieussecq is one of the leading voices in contemporary French literature. Her first novel, Pig Tales, was a finalist for France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1996 and became an international bestseller. Her 2013 novel Men: A Novel of Cinema and Desire received the Prix Médicis, and her luminous, voluptuous portrait of the artist Paula Modersohn-Becker, Being Here Is Everything, was published in English by Semiotext(e) in 2017. Darrieussecq has also worked as a translator and a psychoanalyst.

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