Sleepless by Marie Darrieussecq

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Author: Marie Darrieussecq

Category: Non-Fiction, Previous Picks (Book Post)

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Text Publishing

ISBN: 9781922790088

RRP: $34.99

In our 24/7, open-all-hours, switched-on, screen-driven contemporary existence, it’s no surprise that some of us have trouble sleeping.

Struck with insomnia, author Marie Darrieussecq decided to document and express her experiences and innermost whispers, thoughts, and feelings. The author has tried almost everything to sleep: taking prescription drugs (‘sometimes all I need is to have the packet.’), camomile tea, warm milk, afternoon naps, retiring late, bedtime rituals, yoga, meditation, adjusting a room’s furniture and lighting (‘One of the key points of feng shui is that our houses are too full: bric-a-brac is exhausting.’), walking, ‘thinking like a mountain’, sleeping at home, in hotel rooms, or the jungle, sleeping alone or with loved ones.

The poetic, stream-of-consciousness style resonates and embraces the shared human experience of sleeplessness, fuelled by hypervigilance, stress, anxiety, and overthinking – whatever you’ve got!

Darrieussecq believes poetry, like dreaming, speaks a wild truth. The delightful enjoyment of Sleepless is the author’s unique, unexpected, and subjective point of view and voice, translated into English from the original French. We feel, at times, like we’re inside Darrieussecq’s sleepless skull with her as she draws on hundreds of sources from literature – Kafka, Woolf, Plath, Didion – film, pop culture, philosophy, metaphysics and biology. Australia’s Heath Ledger, Midnight Oil, and the Tasmanian tiger are just a few thoughts within 1000s.

Like the prince slashing his sword through the forest of thorns, tirelessly seeking the way to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the insomniac must persevere or be trapped in the infinite möbius strip of sleeplessness. To manage your own cognitive load, please don’t read it at bedtime.

Review by Mark Parry



Marie Darrieussecq was born in Bayonne in 1969 and is recognised as one of the leading voices of contemporary French literature. Her first novel, Pig Tales, was translated into thirty-five languages. She has written more than twenty books.

In 2013 Marie Darrieussecq was awarded the Prix Médicis and the Prix des Prix for her novel Men She has written art criticism and journalism for a number of publications, including Libération and Charlie Hebdo, is a translator from English and has practised as a psychoanalyst. Sleepless is her third non-fiction title published by Text. Marie lives in Paris.

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