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Lying Awake: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 9. Oktober 2001

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In his third novel, Lying Awake, Mark Salzman breaks the primary rule of fiction by creating a protagonist who has virtually no external life. Sister John of the Cross, a middle-aged nun cloistered in a Carmelite monastery in contemporary Los Angeles, languished for years in a spiritual drought--"her prayers empty and her soul dry"--until she suddenly received God's grace in the form of intense mystical visions. So vivid have her visions become that they burn a kind of afterglow into her mind that she transcribes into crystalline (and highly popular) verse. The only downside is that they are accompanied by excruciating headaches that cause her to black out.

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 -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


"A lean, seemingly effortless tour de force...a perfect little novel."
--The New Yorker

"Spare, luminous...Salzman makes this cloistered society not only believable, but also compelling."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"A singularly rich and abundant work.... [Salzman has an] ability to convey spiritual states with a lambent clarity."
--The New York Times Book Review

"A satisfying and evocative questioning of faith and art."
--The Oregonian

"Mark Salzman is...a poet, capturing in the pages of Lying Awake, his shining novel about devotion and doubt, a mysticism that reaches back in time to an older tradition, yet dwells easily in the present."
--Los Angeles Times

"A gentle story.... Graceful, lucid and enjoyable."

"Elegant.... Salzman's depiction of Sister John's conflict, convent life and this society of devoted women is a marvelous accomplishment."
--The Seattle Times

"Lying Awake showcases an almost ethereal talent, one that can handle complex ideas with a touch lighter than air."
--New York Post

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Format: Taschenbuch
Rare is the novel that enthralls me sufficiently to warrant reading in a single sitting. Being dyslexic, I am one of the world's slower readers. Being stubborn, I have read more than most. However, this comes because of a large investment of time. I expected 'Lying Awake' to be a four-night, going-to-sleep kind of book. Instead, it kept me in a state indicated by the title -- lying awake. I could not put the book down.
Author Mark Salzman has made a name for himself with books such as 'Iron and Silk' and 'The Soloist'. According to the critical blurbs on the jacket, this book is
'...written with exquisite grace and hailed by critics. This elegant novel plumbs the depths of one woman's soul, and in so doing raises salient questions about the power--and price--of true faith.'
I had an instant rapport with Sister John - the nun had taken the spiritual name from John of the Cross, best known for his reflections on the dark night of the soul, which factors into the situation for Sister John. She had spent many years hoping for insight, hoping for a feeling, hoping for a sign, hoping for something to let her know with certainty that there is meaning to her life, her call, her sacrifices, and her future.
In the course of regular monastic routines, elaborated in the narrative with skill and subtle insight by Salzman, Sister John begins to sense, to feel, to be aware of the presence of the divine in the ordinary and swiftly-becoming-not-so-ordinary day to day tasks and schedules. Salzman takes us gently back through past experiences of Sister John while slowly teasing out the real causes of Sister John's feelings of the divine presence.
Sister John then has to make a choice. The religious ecstatic experience is in fact a dangerous one.
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Format: Taschenbuch
Mark Salzman reaches a high literary level where he can take the reader to an interesting journey through the -not only religious- life of a cloistered nun. The book is very well written; Without going into too much detail, the author succeeds in giving the reader a clear picture of the personal dilemma of Sister John. The decision between losing her holy visions and losing her health is not an easy one, at least for Sister John. Salzman successfully keeps the reader in the story and forces the reader to make a decision before reading Sister John's decision.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.3 von 5 Sternen 133 Rezensionen
115 von 120 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A small, perfect novel that blew me away 20. September 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I read this book in one sitting, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. It is perfect, amazing, hard to believe it's only 192 pages. Like Kazuo Ishiguro's "Remains of the Day," this novel finds suspense and emotional drama in the smallest details, and it is just as beautifully written. The life in this Carmelite monastery, where speech is almost completely forbidden, comes to life with such full, tactile detail. Most importantly, Salzman manages to write about a crisis of faith without becoming touchy-feely or vague. He goes right to the heart of the matter -- to the heart of this character -- and writes about her dilemma in a way that makes it universal, whether you're religious or not: the search for grace. I was incredibly moved. Salzman continues to amaze with his range. This is his most transcendent work.
49 von 52 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A great hunger 28. Dezember 2000
Von Kerry Walters - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Salzman's wonderful novel will haunt you. In sparse, cloister-empty language, he tells the story of Carmelite Sister John of the Cross, a woman whose long hunger for God has finally been filled by three years worth of profoundly changing mystical experiences. One day she's forced to ask herself if the ecstatic episodes for which she yearns are what she ought to be seeking--whether, in short, the great spiritual hunger that's like a "hole in the center of her being" (p. 115) should be stuffed with comforting content or embraced for the resplendent absence it is.
It's significant that Salzman's heroine takes the religious name of "John of the Cross," the great Carmelite mystic who writes of the "nada" of God. Her crisis is John's dark night of the soul, and it also faces all of us who search for God. Sister John's final discovery about the soul's hunger for the Divine is one that may surprise you. But in Salzman's artful hands, it rings absolutely true.
Five stars isn't enough for this book. Nothing short of a National Book Award can do it justice.
33 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen 'All of us will be tested in faith, again and again' 18. September 2001
Von Larry L. Looney - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Mark Salzman's LYING AWAKE is the story of one woman's test of faith. She is Sister John of the Cross, a Carmelite nun living in a monastery surrounded by the hubbub that is Los Angeles. She has given most of her life to the service of God, and she has been gifted with wonderful, ecstatic visions. Words have poured out of her into her journals -- her poetry has inspired seekers within and without the Order. Now in middle age, she suddenly discovers that the headaches that have accompanied these visions could threaten her life -- and, more devastating than this, they could be indications that her visions are nothing but hallucinations brought on by a medical condition. Her choice is plain but difficult -- if she agrees to the surgery that could correct this condition and possibly save her life, she risks losing the one aspect of her religious life that she has seen as a validation of her Vocation. Not an easy choice.
Salzman's prose is as spare and delicate as any I have read -- and yet it conveys so very much. Life for the cloistered Sisters is revealed to the reader without romanticizing -- in all of its simplicity, hardship and beauty. His descriptions of the nuns' cells, the chapel, the monastery garden all shine with a gentle but firm light -- they all seem so present and real. The emotions that pass through Sister John are just as real -- this journey she is taking is one of the soul, and it is not an easy one. Her journal entries are so spiritually evocative --
'an invisible sun
a shock wave of pure Being
swept my pain away, swept everything away
until all that was left was God.
God awakening.'
In another entry, she describes the dissolution of the Self to the Eternal Will:
'You were here all along.
I pierce the universe.
God pierces me.
I do not think; I am thought.
I do not know; I am known.'
The luminous journal entries attributed to Sister John are alone worth the read -- but there is so much more to be garnered from this marvelous work. The quotation at the very top, another from her journal, is so true for all of us -- particularly in light of recent terrible events. Her journey -- and its resolution -- can inspire us when we need it the most.
This is a book of incredible insight and feeling -- remarkable for its beauty (and frugality) of language. I know that I will find myself returning to it again and again throughout my life. I'm glad it's coming out in paperback -- I can see myself giving a few copies as gifts, and the hardcovers would break me!
31 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Magnificent Insight 5. Oktober 2000
Von auer@stmartins.edu - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I just finished reading in one sitting Lying Awake. I am a Benedictine Monk, and I have never been so impressed by a novel of religious life. Mr. Salzman has written a classic - a spiritual and psychological novel that everyone should read. I don't know how he did it but he captured magnificently the whole of the contemplative life. I have his memoir and two of his previous novels. I knew he was an excellent writer, but this blew me away. I felt as if he got into my mind. The characters are human, but always treated with respect. They are strong women who struggle with their vocations. I hope someone informs Mr. Salzman of the greatness of his work and his ability to capture such a delicate subject with such insight. I am a poet and I felt even as a man as if the book were about me.
33 von 37 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A sky full of starlight in this thimble of a book! 29. Oktober 2000
Von Marion - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I heard Mr. Salzman on NPR talking about this book one day last week on my drive in to work. I thought to myself, "A disease with the side effect of ecstatic visions then prolific writing? Surely this can't be true?!" As soon as I got up on Saturday morning, I headed to the library to see if they had this book in. As luck would have it, there it sat on the new book shelf right inside the front door.
I read this book straight through in one sitting just like Anne Lamott did which she relates in her blurb on the back cover. I also plan to read it again today, much more slowly and contemplatively. What blew me away was the spiritual depth of the book, the slow, painful dawning of enlightenment (much like watching a magnificent sunrise that takes the silent landscape from total blackness to a sparkling kaleidoscope of color and birdsong), that Sister John experiences.
The clincher for me was that I heard the author relate that he is not a spiritual person. Well, Mr. Salzman, whether you know it or not, you ARE a spiritual being (as we all are) and God has used you to pour another little pitcherful of light into this dark, thirsty world. And I thank you!
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