Everything I wanted to say was clearer at 4.30 in the morning, so you’ll have to excuse me. Like I said, insomnia.
This isn’t the first book where I’ve seen it come up as a major topic. The other big example I can think of is ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, which I highly highly recommend as long as you have a little bit of patience or happen to read unnaturally fast. I know there’s a Murakami novel where it comes up but I forgot the name. Oh well.
Anyway, the fascination with the way people behave when they’re sleep-deprived is interesting. I wonder if writers suffer from insomnia more than other people; certainly it’s more prevalent in females and seems to have some sort of vague tie to the menses. (More of a tie than conception, even. Anyone else torn between amusement and horror at Arizona?)
Insomnia is perceived as a good thing, a bad thing, something that represents a paradigm shift–at least from the books I’ve read, though, more than anything else, it’s used to create a character who isn’t completely in the game. A bit out of it–altered perceptions, almost to the point of hallucination but without the prerequisite drug use or severe mental illness. I wonder if any authors are chronic insomniacs, seems like if you have it you’re less inclined to use it as a plot device. Though admittedly Philip K. Dick was comfortable with discussing the effects of drug abuse in ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (even though, quite frankly, he has no idea how the brain works)…. In the end I’m back to the starting point. Anyone can do anything. Writers have the total freedom to make shit up, readers can call them on it if they wish. Or we/they can just enjoy the ride.
I really liked ‘Fight Club’. More on that tomorrow.