Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An Insomniac's Night




Wilkie Collins is one of my favorite authors.  Or at least, he wrote two of my favorite books – The Woman in White and The Moonstone.  These two are really at the pinnacle of the nineteenth century sensational novel.  They both could keep a very sleepy person awake all night.  The first time I read The Moonstone, many years ago when I was a married woman, I could not put it down, and had to read a few more pages, and then a few more pages, and then a few more pages until the very wee hours of the morning.  The next day, Dennis complained that I had stayed up too late reading.  “But my book was so good,” I said.  “You read it and you’ll see.”  So that evening, he started it just as I was drifting off to the land of Nod.  The next night, he was reading something else.  “Didn’t you like The Moonstone”? I asked, disappointed.  He looked a little embarrassed.  “I finished it,” he admitted.  "Just as you were waking up." See?  It is a real page-turner.  On the other hand, Wilkie Collins has written some of the most boring books ever.  The Dead Secret is a perfect example.  I can’t believe it is still in print.  It’s that silly.  One knows what the secret is on about page four - or maybe even page two.  I carried on because I could not believe that the plot could be so obvious, and hoped that some surprise twist might be coming.  As anyone who keeps track (on the sidebar) of what I am reading will know, it took me weeks to finish this one.  Then one night I simply could not go to sleep, and this book seemed like the perfect soporific tool to induce a snooze.  But no – I read on to the bitter end, and there were no surprises.  I turned off the light, hoping for a boredom induced torpor – but none came.  I staggered downstairs, eyes very bleary, and looked about for something else to read.  It had to be good, but not too good, since I did want to go to sleep before it was time to wake up.  My friends, The Twins, had been amazed that I had never read a Horatio Alger book, but I thought they sounded potentially dull.  I knew all about the “Rags to Riches if Only One is  Sufficiently Morally Upright and Industrious” themes, and that storyline did not have a lot of appeal.  Plus, I had never really had access to one of Alger’s books.  Or so I thought.  As I was searching my bookshelves, in my sleep deprived fog, through the haze, I espied an Alger book which I hadn’t even realized that I had.  The perfect thing!  It was fun to read, and actually did eventually  have the desired soporific effect. 

I might add that no golf club appeared in this novel, either onstage or off.  

3 comments:

Laura said...

Try turning the tv on to c-span to induce sleep. Really I like c-span but that quiet monotone way of talking can be very relaxing!

rebecca said...

Mary V had a Horatio Alger book about a paperboy working his way up, an I liked it pretty well.

Marta said...

Very interesting.

Have you ever tried singing in your mind. Start at the beginning of the alphabet and sing a song for each letter.
It works for me.