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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Benjamin Parzybok: IMG A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors



Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »
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The House of Sleep

by

The House of Sleep Cover

ISBN13: 9780375700880
ISBN10: 0375700889
Condition: Standard
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Awards

Winner of the Writers' Guild Best Fiction Award in England
Winner of the Prix Médicis in France

Review-A-Day

"The House of Sleep is both darkly funny and hyperactive in plot, but at the same time remarkably resonant and poignant....Like most Coe novels, in The House of Sleep you'll meet a variety of characters, so vividly drawn that a novel dedicated to each and every character would not go astray....If writing maketh the man, then I do indeed have a crush on Mr. Jonathan Coe." Georgie Lewis, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Like a surreal and highly caffeinated version of The Big Chill, Jonathan Coe's new novel follows four students who knew each other in college in the eighties. Sarah is a narcoleptic who has dreams so vivid she mistakes them for real events. Robert has his life changed forever by the misunderstandings that arise from her condition. Terry spends his wakeful nights fueling his obsession with movies. And an increasingly unstable doctor, Gregory, sees sleep as a life-shortening disease which he must eradicate.

But after ten years of fretful slumber and dreams gone bad, the four reunite in their college town to confront their disorders. In a Gothic cliffside manor being used as a clinic for sleep disorders, they discover that neither love, nor lunacy, nor obsession ever rests.

Review:

"Intricately plotted and ingeniously constructed....A deft satire...a strange and poignant love story." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Often disconcerting, sometimes moving, frequently funny....Coe eviscerates the bottom-liners with hilarious bare-toothed ferocity." The Los Angeles Times Book Review

Review:

"Jonathan Coe has written a witty, engaging romance that reinvigorates the old saw that life is a dream." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"An epic farce fueled by romance and satire....It is also a hilarious and deeply touching tale....Love, tenderness, affection: The House of Sleep glows with these qualities, and exalts them." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Coe calls to mind the high silliness of Wodehouse farces and also Waugh's crueler social satire....Coe has an almost 19th century faith in the ability of a novel to immerse you in a created world that resonates in the actual world at every turn." Charles Taylor, Salon.com

Review:

"An audacious, often wickedly funny meditation on the vexed precincts of sleep and sex....[A] droll, ingenious novel, its satire nicely leavened by true romance." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[E]ngrossing and wildly inventive....Coe proves himself as adept an architect of sparkling, highly caffeinated fictional conceits as he is a satirist of the ambiguities of identity and the afflictions of the sleep-deprived." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A book of playful games and combinations, written with great brio....It's also, as a worthy novel should be, a humane pleasure to read." New Statesman

Review:

"A serpentine novel of ideas....Packed with brilliant comic setpieces, trenchant satire on the self-serving 'business' of helping people and dexterous plotting which lovingly exploits the thin line between accident and design." Time Out

Review:

"Coe has been compared to Peacock, Waugh and Wodehouse. But this novel shows he has outgrown even this distinguished lineage....This is a fiercely clever, witty novel, but it is also wise, generous and hopeful." Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)

Review:

"Coe's first novel since his prize-winning The Winshaw Legacy is likewise witty and intelligent....The story has some surprising twists, and Coe mostly manages to avoid clichd characters, although his mad doctor is almost over the top. Recommended." Library Journal

About the Author

Jonathan Coe has received the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Prix Médicis Etranger, and, for The Rotters' Club, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for the most original comic writing. He lives in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

OneMansView, April 4, 2011 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Escaping sleep and dreams

The weather-beaten, desolate, murky, and ragged Ashdown, an old, imposing stone mansion perched on a cliff on the English coast, is the perfect metaphor for the tenuous, difficult connections of four university students who lived there in the mid-80s, went their separate ways with little ceremony, but are now, twelve years later, unbeknownst to them linked again through their participation in a sleep disorder clinic that has taken over Ashdown.

In rather abrupt shifts from the present to the past, it is learned that “Gregory” from the student days, now Dr. Dudden and proprietor of the clinic, is able to indulge his creepy, voyeuristic obsessions with sleep, including bothersome experiments in the basement of his clinic. Terry Worth, a film student and now a noted film critic, has been invited to the clinic as an object for study because of his claims that he virtually never sleeps. Sarah, now a school teacher, has led a distressing life due to any number of complications and embarrassments related to her undiagnosed narcolepsy and a disturbing inability to separate vivid dreams from reality. Among them all, it is Robert who is most troubled because he cannot resolve his sub-conscious gender-identity issues with his painful, total love for Sarah, whose flights from reality he vigorously defends. And it is Robert who seems to be unaccounted for at this later date.

The book is complexly plotted, with more than a few convenient coincidences and bits and pieces of information slowly revealed, which allows both the reader and the characters to not only fill in the blanks of the past, but also to perhaps permit some measure of closure on long-standing concerns. There are some important secondary characters who supply key information at the right time, such as a young girl that Robert and Sarah had taken to the beach many years before.

The book is not without its edifying aspects concerning sleep disorder technicalities, but it is the social implications that stand out. The implied commentary on excessiveness and absurdities is most interesting. Dudden’s one-dimensional approach to sleep disorders, under the shield of scientific method, ignoring social realities and consequences, comes to mind. Terry is an odd character. First, there is his obsession with an Italian film director and a supposedly lost film and its perplexing connection to a dream of Robert’s. However, his shift from sleeping fourteen hours a day as a student to eschewing all sleep represents the ridiculous, given voice by Dudden’s declaration that sleep is for losers.

Even though the characters are a bit exaggerated, the book is primarily an interesting combining of dreams and hopes, misunderstandings ��" both of self and others, the fragility of love, and the possibilities of ever getting a handle on it all.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Malloire, January 14, 2011 (view all comments by Malloire)
This is one of my favorite books of all time. A little bit tough to get into, but one you've taken the plunge, it is totally worth it. A very dark sort of comedy with wonderfully outrageous characters. Highly recommend this book for anyone who considers themselves to be a dreamer.
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crowyhead, August 21, 2006 (view all comments by crowyhead)
I wanted to really like this novel, because I felt like it did a lot of things very well. The story was intriguing, the characters had the potential to be very interesting, all of that good stuff. But for some reason, while I was entertained by the story, I didn't really develop any kind of emotional attachment to the characters. I never felt like I really knew them, and it felt kind of like all the characters were playing pieces that the author moved around at will.
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(12 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375700880
Author:
Coe, Jonathan
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
England
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Sleep disorders
Subject:
Didactic fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
April 1999
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.02x5.19x.79 in. .60 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The House of Sleep Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375700880 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "The House of Sleep is both darkly funny and hyperactive in plot, but at the same time remarkably resonant and poignant....Like most Coe novels, in The House of Sleep you'll meet a variety of characters, so vividly drawn that a novel dedicated to each and every character would not go astray....If writing maketh the man, then I do indeed have a crush on Mr. Jonathan Coe." (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "Intricately plotted and ingeniously constructed....A deft satire...a strange and poignant love story."
"Review" by , "Often disconcerting, sometimes moving, frequently funny....Coe eviscerates the bottom-liners with hilarious bare-toothed ferocity."
"Review" by , "Jonathan Coe has written a witty, engaging romance that reinvigorates the old saw that life is a dream."
"Review" by , "An epic farce fueled by romance and satire....It is also a hilarious and deeply touching tale....Love, tenderness, affection: The House of Sleep glows with these qualities, and exalts them."
"Review" by , "Coe calls to mind the high silliness of Wodehouse farces and also Waugh's crueler social satire....Coe has an almost 19th century faith in the ability of a novel to immerse you in a created world that resonates in the actual world at every turn."
"Review" by , "An audacious, often wickedly funny meditation on the vexed precincts of sleep and sex....[A] droll, ingenious novel, its satire nicely leavened by true romance."
"Review" by , "[E]ngrossing and wildly inventive....Coe proves himself as adept an architect of sparkling, highly caffeinated fictional conceits as he is a satirist of the ambiguities of identity and the afflictions of the sleep-deprived."
"Review" by , "A book of playful games and combinations, written with great brio....It's also, as a worthy novel should be, a humane pleasure to read."
"Review" by , "A serpentine novel of ideas....Packed with brilliant comic setpieces, trenchant satire on the self-serving 'business' of helping people and dexterous plotting which lovingly exploits the thin line between accident and design."
"Review" by , "Coe has been compared to Peacock, Waugh and Wodehouse. But this novel shows he has outgrown even this distinguished lineage....This is a fiercely clever, witty novel, but it is also wise, generous and hopeful."
"Review" by , "Coe's first novel since his prize-winning The Winshaw Legacy is likewise witty and intelligent....The story has some surprising twists, and Coe mostly manages to avoid clichd characters, although his mad doctor is almost over the top. Recommended."
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