IN THE LAND OF NYX: Night and Its Inhabitants by John Bowers

IN THE LAND OF NYX: Night and Its Inhabitants

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Using his own insomnia as a springboard, Bowers (The Colony, No More Reunions) offers a free-form collage of musings, some (but not all) relating to the idea of working/living at night. The more distinctive sequences are the most personal, least specifically nocturnal ones. In stream-of-consciousness flurries, the sleepless N.Y.C. writer worries about ""the Black Glob"" of unpaid bills; he recalls the final illness and death of his Tennessee parents (his father was a night-telegrapher for the railroad); he bitterly reviews his often-frustrated writing career--a rejected novel, inane articles plucked from the fat Cosmopolitan assignment book (""a tome of little prÉcis that reads like Arthur Bremer's diary""); he recalls old drinking pals whole made it big. (""Good old Mario. He deserves it. I could shoot him. . ."") Elsewhere, he recycles nice material from his days as a roving Saturday Evening Post journalist--with an especially graceful glimpse of that elegant night-owl, Duke Ellington. And, in the most conventional reporter-with-a-subject vein, Bowers briefly describes a wide array of night people and night-jobs--at the ABC-TV newsroom, a massage parlor, a disco, the literary Greenwich Village bars; with a city cop and a cross-country trucker. There's something a little haft-hearted about these inquiries into the nature of night-life. Some of the personal memories (the birth of his first child, a brief stay in a hospital) seem more like filler than anything else. But Bowers' prose is always direct, precise, resonant, never less than a cut or two above journalese. And the recurrent outbursts of pain and anger about the life of a serious professional writer are--unlike most such soul-barings--convincing, naked, with grimly funny specifics.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1984
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday