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In Sleepless Nights a woman looks back on her life-the parade of people, the shifting background of place-and assembles a scrapbook of memories, reflections, portraits, letters, wishes, and dreams. An inspired fusion of fact and invention, this beautifully realized, hard-bitten, lyrical book is not only Elizabeth Hardwick's finest fiction but one of the outstanding contributions to American literature of the last fifty years.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780940322721
ISBN-10: 0940322722
Format: Paperback
(202mm x 129mm x 127mm)
Pages: 144
Imprint: NYRB Classics
Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Publish Date: 1-May-2001
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » A dazzling and difficult, fragmented and garnet-dark autobiographical novel - in which Hardwick locates "lost things," the singularity of places, and the images of those she has cared about from the Thirties up until the general vicinity of the present. As the times and places swing by - Kentucky ("the cemetery of home, education, nerves, heritage and tics"), Boston, Amsterdam, Maine, Manhattan - scenes and stories and people are caught in bits of lean prose and then brusquely strung together. Singer Billie Holiday, "stately, sinister and determined." Stubbornly doomed domestic workers tripped up by the "unfair disease" of vulnerability and abrupt deprivations. "Skin-and-bones" Communists of the Thirties. The "dead Ph.D.'s" of the Manhattan cocktail scene, revived by wine in the evening to "burst forth with brave little blossoms." A beautiful, self-indulgent, Marxist lover who switches his women from night to night. A courteous Dutch doctor who luxuriously cossets three women. A shopping-bag lady and a muddled, impoverished grande dame: strangers staring at each other on a N.Y. street, unaware of what they share - "mad strength, hideous endurance." And a raucous club-car full of drunk men with bright clothes - those who labor at filling stations for families "that are from their youth already in their eyes." This is a carefully choreographed dance of affective particles, and not easy to encompass. But each set-piece shimmers with piercing observation and long-nurtured feelings; and, though strenuous going as it's being absorbed, this memoir/novel/poem will quietly, slowly sort itself in the sympathetic reader's mind: "The train seems to be always going straight ahead in the lucky, large empty country." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Elizabeth Hardwick

Elizabeth Hardwick (b. 1916) has been a frequent contributor to The Partisan Review, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books, which she helped found in 1963. Her books include the novels The Simple Truth, The Ghostly Lover, and Sleepless Nights, the essay collection A View of My Own, and The Selected Letters of William James, for which she acted as editor. Geoffrey O'Brien is Editor in Chief of the Library of America. He is the author, most recently, of Sonata for Jukebox: An Autobiography of My Ears and Red Sky Cafe. (October 2008)

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