Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia, by Blake Butler

horse_oats's review

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What a miracle that Blake Butler could sustain the rhythm and syntax of that elusive pre-sleep/over-tired state for 300 pages! Lovely: form marries content! But the trick got old after awhile of going nowhere interesting.

shanz77's review

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I really enjoyed this book. I found the structure and writing beautiful. As a fellow lifelong insomniac I saw a lot of my own experiences and commiserated,

melanie_page's review

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I'd give it a solid 2.5--I really liked some parts (when he describes moments from his life in beautiful wording: the balloon, going to the clinic, his father, his dreams about the boulder and the man in the white car), but a lot of the book moves away from memoir and delves into fantasy (page after page of using words like air, self, meat, holes, and lick in uncommon form, leaving me a bit lost as to what he means and falling down the rabbit hole without a flashlight). They may be Butler's fantasies that he experiences while awake, but aren't all fantasies fiction? Based on the descriptions of his other books, his memoir sounds fairly close in content. If there were more Blake Butler and less theory/philosophy/dream-like writing that doesn't seem to be dreams, I'm sure my opinion would be much higher. How would this book have been different if there were more descriptions of actual dreams (such as when he is awake 129 hours) and less stream-of-conscious writing?

etienne02's review against another edition

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The cover glows in the dark! That might be the only reason why I will keep this book, because honestly, inside, there isn't much. A very personal non-fiction, more of a memoir than a essay. We don't learn anything, the author force the writing to be poetic, which was so not necessary in a book like that and we end up asking ourselves why we read it.

felicitastraeumer's review against another edition

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Nothing. Well, there would be a lot to say about this book, but you better read for yourself to fully understand.

I found this read disturbing and at the same time disturbingly interesting. I could not stop reading until I was so tired I simply had to go to bed. Which is, in itself, paradox when reading about insomnia. Blake's mixture of theories about insomnia, its causes and its cures, and his very own experiences involving himself writing and his family history makes this book rather special.

However, you must be truly interested in the subject and like modern philosophy a lot to get through this book. I recommend it to anyone who is an insomniac and likes thinking beyond usual patterns.