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Love & Sleep (Aegypt) Paperback – January 29, 2008

Book 2 of 4 in the Aegypt Tetralogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With this impressive if flawed sequel to the magisterial AEgypt (1987), Crowley offers another taste of his deeply intellectual brand of contemporary fantasy. As a boy, historian and writer Pierce Moffett developed a fascination with the occult, devouring tomes of arcane lore. Now Pierce has become increasingly convinced that, several times in history, the world has undergone a great transformation whereby the nature of things--the systems that govern its operation--have changed; where once alchemy and magic worked, now they don't. Digging through the papers of a favorite childhood novelist, Pierce discovers an unpublished manuscript that, set in the 16th century and tracking two real-life men of knowledge, seems to bolster his supposition that things were indeed once different. Several people are affected by his discovery--the woman he comes to care for; an epileptic child; a dying man seeking the philosopher's stone. It's not in the plot that the relative strengths of Crowley's book lie. Rather, it's in the breathtaking language, the rolling seductive sentences and the precision with which he evokes the sense of everyday life spiced with hints of mystical secrets. The problem, though, is that there's no proper payoff to all the portent. Crowley tries mightily, but he just can't pull off the miracle of creating his own philosopher's stone here. Still, if what he ends up with isn't quite gold, it glitters enough to keep readers involved. Major ad/promo.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Crowley (Aegypt, 1987, etc.) struggles to recapture the smooth blending of straight narrative and speculative hermeticism that gave his best work, Little, Big (1981), the startling quality of metaphysical realism. It eludes him, unfortunately, here. Very much a book of levels, as the title's two primal forces indicate, this is the story of a writer named Pierce Moffett, who grew up with his mother and uncle and cousins in rural Kentucky (far removed from his homosexual father back in New York City). Pierce eventually turns into an upstate New York loner, an isolato equipped with paranormal gifts of magic and wisdom that set him more firmly in tune with the music of the spheres than with the lives of his neighbors. The book is a chronicle of Pierce's slow steps into this world (a fuller sex life, learning to drive) but also a charting of the introduction he unwittingly provides to others of a reality off, as it were, to one side of daily conscious life. Crowley adds historical focus in chapters about the struggles of two 16th-century psychic pioneers, the Italian metaphysician Giordano Bruno and the English mage John Dee. These historical sections, though graceful (Crowley is a deliciously elegant writer, sentence by sentence), are heavy dumplings; and though Crowley ultimately and quite strikingly turnbuckles the two levels into one at the end, it feels a lot less than natural and inevitable. The split-vision pretty much weighs down the spring of Pierce's pilgrim's progress into love and eroticism (women, but also a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy who is his illegitimate son, a pure Eros figure). In the end, the secret knowledge so sought after here comes to seem a burden the reader would rather shrug off than embrace. Disappointing. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Aegypt (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Books (January 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590200152
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590200155
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #744,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Crowley was born in the appropriately liminal town of Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942, his father then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after college to make movies, and did find work in documentary films, an occupation he still pursues. He published his first novel (The Deep) in 1975, and his 14th volume of fiction (Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land) in 2005. Since 1993 he has taught creative writing at Yale University. In 1992 he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He finds it more gratifying that almost all his work is still in print.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
5 star
38%
4 star
46%
3 star
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2 star
15%
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See all 13 customer reviews
Parts of this book truly make one want to tear one's hair out!
Daniel Myers
Although written in Crowley's beautiful style this novel was a severe disappointment.
rampageous_cuss
I've been highly entertained by the first two and I heartily recommend them.
Dick Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Christopher I. Lehrich on May 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The first sequel to AEgypt, Love & Sleep chronicles lovelorn and adrift Pierce Moffett as he stands upon the cusp of a magical change in history. Simultaneously, we view the brief encounter between Giordano Bruno and John Dee at Mortlake in the late 16th century, Pierce's own childhood in the Cumberland mountains, and begin to see deeply into the lives of Pierce's two roses (Rose Ryder and Rosie Rasmussen). This book seems to have been unpopular with some Crowley fans, perhaps because it almost entirely lacks any sort of action, and is instead a lyrical, brooding meditation on change and age. It is also true that some of the Renaissance scenes are over-long, windy, and at times do not quite ring true. Further, it is a sequel, and what's more will have two more sequels of its own; the third book in the series, Daemonomania, is already out, but who knows when book 4 will appear? Although I would grant all these criticisms, it is Crowley's graceful prose that makes this book such an extraordinary achievement. AEgypt was a bit unfocused, seemingly unsure where it was going; Love & Sleep takes wing and soars. Crowley's ear for modern speech is exceptional, and he also manages to clutch us emotionally without ever dipping into maudlin or pathos. Furthermore, the way he weaves together oddities of Renaissance magical history and mythology with the modern world is breathtaking --- Bobby Shaftoe's werewolf father is hauntingly real, human, and deeply felt. For me, this is Crowley's best book since Little, Big, but it's certainly not for the quick reader. Love & Sleep requires a good deal of effort and time from the reader, and we must be prepared to surrender to the homely, slow pace of the prose.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Crowley Fan on February 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Volume two of Crowley's vast novel "Aegypt": I alternated between rapture and discomfort while reading this. The first third, relating some episodes from the main character's childhood, is exquisite by any standard; but the rest of the book suffers as a reading experience from jagged transitions and maddening enigmas. Great set-pieces and superb bits of writing are to be found in it--as well as a jaw-dropping shock for anyone the tiniest bit prudish--but the overall impression is that the book is adrift. There is no specific flow or flavor to "Love & Sleep" as a whole, like there is in "Aegypt"'s astonishingly great first volume.

These were my thoughts, reading it. I went on with reluctance to "Daemonomania", only to find it wonderful. In addition, it provided enough perspective on the events of "Love & Sleep" to make them wonderful for me in hindsight.

Here's the thing: this is not a "tetralogy". It is ALL ONE BOOK, one already somewhere between "War & Peace" and "Clarissa" in length. There are certain organic divisions within the book, but they don't always neatly match the cut-off points of the volumes. The latter two-thirds of "L&S" flow right into "Daemonomania", and most of the many mysteries introduced in it are developed to fullness in that volume.

The tone of "L&S" is purposely difficult: the characters are lost, their worlds fragmented. "Aegypt: The Solitudes" is something of a book of youth, of discovery and gathering power; "Love & Sleep" deals with setbacks, detours, bafflements. "Daemonomania" continues these but shows people gradually putting themselves together within the chaos, and discovering ways of coping with a reality that does not love them. The book ends with the foot finally back on the path, and knowing, finally, how to stay on it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on January 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must say that these other reviews are not too terribly helpful to a prospective reader who has perhaps just heard of Crowley, wonders what all the to-do is about and has chanced across this webpage. This review is directed at such a reader, as indeed I myself am, still, having now finished three of Crowley's works.

Righto, the first thing to which one has to accustom oneself here is this notion, elaborated and elaborated upon herein with no end of abstruse patented Crowleyan hermetic lore, that probably everyone with any imagination has at one time had: What if, say, two seconds ago, the world as we now know it just came into being complete with a history etc., quite different from what it was two seconds ago? This is the simplest way I know to put this fixation of Crowley's (or of Pierce Moffett's). But, what if, also, and this is the catch, the driving force behind the entire Crowley enterprise, there might be some way to get back that other world before everything changed in.....name your date and time?

Here is Pierce's declaration upon the subject, at one point in the book:

"He had read to this conclusion once, and then he had pondered it for a long time before he saw what he had here, which was an explanation for the history of magic that answered every need, solved every historical crux, satisfied the skeptic and the ardent seeker both, and had only the one drawback of its complete absurdity."

And of course it is absurd, complete twaddle. Parts of this book truly make one want to tear one's hair out! So - I hear my hypothetical prospective reader asking - why do you bother, should I bother, reading Crowley? The answer, I should say, is that, despite the twaddle, Crowley's work is lovely, meditative and deeply hypnotic.
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