The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Hardback)Samantha Harvey (author)
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Enquiring and enlightening, Harvey’s memoir of a year of insomnia uses sleep deprivation as a means of unlocking fundamental human truths and interrogating notions of reality and memory. Written with candour but also an innate lyricism, The Shapeless Unease is a profound and frequently dazzling meditation.
A poignant, urgent memoir about insomnia from the acclaimed author of The Western Wind
Sleep. Sleep. Like money, you only think about it when you have too little. Then you think about it all the time, and the less you have the more you think about it. It becomes the prism through which you see the world and nothing can exist except in relation to it.
Samantha Harvey's insomnia arrived, seemingly, from nowhere; for a year she has spent her nights chasing sleep that rarely comes. She's tried everything to appease it. Nothing is helping.
What happens when one of the basic human needs goes unmet? For Samantha Harvey, extreme sleep deprivation resulted in a raw clarity about life itself. Original and profound, The Shapeless Unease is a startlingly insightful exploration of memory, writing and influence, death and grief, and the will to survive.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 277 g
Dimensions: 204 x 138 x 22 mm
'The book expands personal details into bigger ideas, allowing Harvey to meditate on the nature of time, culture, gender and language.' - The Daily Telegraph
'Readers looking for their own cure will instead find an erudite companion to help them through the dark times.' - The Sunday Times
'Harvey's imagery casts a spell… The Shapeless Unease contains many beautiful and poignant passages about the human will to keep on living' - The Times
'What a spectacularly good book. It is so controlled and yet so WILD. One of the best books I've read about writing. One of the best books I've read about swimming. One of the best books I've read about mourning. And easily one of the truest and best books I've read about what it's like to be alive now, in this country.' - Max Porter
'How can a book about a sensual deprivation be so sensuous and so full? Gritty with particulars, concrete and substantial even when it is most philosophical and far-reaching. I loved reading it before I fell asleep every night - it seemed to give my sleep resonance and poetry.What a beautiful book.' - Tessa Hadley
'A small miracle of a book. Reading it feels like its own kind of lucid dream ... You would imagine a book written in such circumstances would have a hazy quality, but in fact its clarity of expression is startling. It's a fireworks display. It's also a profound meditation on language and loss and time, and on how we construct ourselves through stories. And it's painful. And it's beautiful. And I love it. Samantha Harvey is the most exceptionally gifted of authors, and here she demonstrates that she can literally do anything.' - Nathan Filer
'The Shapeless Unease captures the essence of fractious emotions - anxiety, fear, grief, rage - in prose so elegant, so luminous, it practically shines from the page. Harvey is a hugely talented writer, and this is a book to relish.' - Sarah Waters
'This book felt enormous to me, mercurial, devastating, seeming to grapple with the nature of everything in a manner so compelling it is impossible not to be swept along. A book to return to again and again.' - Daisy Johnson
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“A truly magnificent writer...”
Samantha Harvey is the kind of writer who could turn her hand to pretty much anything. Her prose, be it fiction or non-fiction, tends to lean into an intimacy that really resonates with me and this book is no... More
“How do you review something that resonates so deeply with you?”
Blending essay, memoir, and fiction, Harvey’s fragmented prose reflects that of her sleepless state: she meanders through memories, existential anxieties and present emotions with a succinct style that articulates her... More
“The million-petalled flower of being”
A wonderful blend of autobiography, poetry, prose and insight, The Shapeless Unease is novelist Harvey’s stark memoir of insomnia-and so much more. One of our boldest, most fearless writers here turning the lens on... More
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