- Taschenbuch: 192 Seiten
- Verlag: Vintage (9. Oktober 2001)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0375706062
- ISBN-13: 978-0375706066
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13 x 1,5 x 20,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 447.472 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
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."
"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
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.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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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.
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.
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!
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!