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Book cover of Sleepless

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What is it like to live with chronic insomnia? For Marie Darrieussecq, not sleeping began after the birth of her first child and continues more than twenty years later. She wonders if it is connected to her hypervigilance, to her fear of her children dying. Once they leave home, will she finally be able to sleep again? Or, she wonders, will writing this book help her to sleep again?

In Sleepless, she recounts her own experiences alongside those of fellow insomniacs, mostly writers – ‘as if writing were not sleeping’ – Ovid, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Marguerite Duras, Franz Kafka, Georges Perec and others (some of whom claim a connection between insomnia and creativity). With her inimitable humour, she describes her dealings with a somnologist and her attempts to find a remedy – trying sleeping pills, cannabis, alcohol, bedtime rituals, acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, psychoanalysis, a gravity blanket and a range of sleep-aid devices.

Darrieussecq considers bedrooms, beds, clinophilia (‘the tendency to remain in a prone position without sleeping for prolonged periods of time’), her need to be alone in bed, those without beds, the homeless, refugees, trauma and capitalism’s role in sleeplessness, our constant wakefulness online, the forest as a hypnogogic zone, and how our relationship with animals is connected to our sleep, or lack of it.

Sleep or no sleep: it matters to all of us. Sleepless will awaken you to the otherness of our world. Of erased presences, ghosts, endangered species. Insomnia feeds off this bewildering feeling: there is something else.

Translated by Penny Hueston
Binding: Paperback
Publication date: 16 Aug 2023
Dimensions: 128 x 197 x 19 mm
ISBN: 9781804270653

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