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The story hinges on Sister John's discovery that her visions are in fact the result of mild epileptic seizures. As she learns from her neurologist, temporal-lobe epilepsy commonly brings about "hypergraphia (voluminous writing), an intensification but also a narrowing of emotional response, and an obsessive interest in religion and philosophy." Dostoyevsky, the classic victim of this condition, wrote of his raptures: "There are moments, and it is only a matter of five or six seconds, when you feel the presence of eternal harmony.... If this state were to last more than five seconds, the soul could not endure it and would have to disappear." An exact description of Sister John's visions. The question she now faces is whether to go ahead with surgery--and risk obliterating both her spiritual life and her art--or cling to a state of grace that may actually be a delusion ignited by an electrochemical imbalance.
Using a very limited palette, Mark Salzman creates an austere masterpiece. The real miracle of Lying Awake is that it works perfectly on every level: on the realistic surface, it captures the petty squabbles and tiny bursts of radiance of life in a Los Angeles monastery; deeper down it probes the nature of spiritual illumination and the meaning and purpose of prayer in everyday life; and, at bottom, there lurks a profound meditation on the mystery of artistic inspiration. Salzman made a highly auspicious debut in 1986 with Iron and Silk, a memoir of his years in China, and since then he has dramatically changed key in every book--most recently from the absurdist American suburban chronicle of Lost in Place to the artistic-crisis-cum-courtroom-drama novel The Soloist. Lying Awake is quieter and more sober than Salzman's previous narratives, but it is also more accomplished, more thought-provoking, and more highly crafted. --David Laskin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I ordered this for a books club read. I was skeptical about it. Life in a cloistered convent did not seem to be that exciting. However, I found myself pulled in. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dolores M. Blum
MR SALZMAN HAS WRITTEN AN AMAZING CHARACTER DISCRIPTION OF A CARMELITE NUN'S LIFE AND STORY. WOULD LOVE TO READ ANY NEW BOOKS FROM THE WONDERFUL AUTHOR.Published 10 months ago by Zandra Hanson
A poignant tale , bringing one into the feeling of what an ecstatic moment is like, why a person withdraws form the world, and what satisfactions there might be in passing a life... Read morePublished 10 months ago by feather pen
I actually owned this in hardcover and somewhere along the way it disappeared. I ordered a new version in kindle so I could read it again. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
Audio Book Review
Narrated by Linda Stephens
4 hours and 22 minutes
Sister John of the Cross has been having visions from God. Read more
Was an OK book; we read it for a Catholic Book club and had a good conversation about it. I'm not sure I would choose it to read for enjoyment.Published 13 months ago by Carol
This story of a Catholic nun is so transparent, it could be anyone's story. As Sister John of the Cross struggles with doubt and faith, the essentials of that struggle are laid... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Joyce
I was required to read this book for class and I am glad I had the opportunity to read and explore this bookPublished 15 months ago by Stephanie Patterson
My eclectic taste in books led me to this book about a Los Angeles cloister because I wanted to learn more about the Carmelite order. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Eve