NAKED SLEEPER by Sigrid Nunez


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 The promise Nunez revealed in her acclaimed 1995 debut, A Feather on the Breath of God, is here fulfilled and magnified, as she follows the struggles of a woman to know her father and understand herself, labors that imperil her once secure marriage. Nona, little loved as a child and a pill-dependent insomniac as an adult, has found a measure of happiness hitherto unknown in her five-year marriage to Roy, with whom she shares a love of music and New York City life. Trouble erupts, however, during a monthlong visit to a friend's country estate, to which she retreats to work on a book about her father--an artist long dead, but out of her life even before that--when she meets brooding, handsome English prof Lyle and inexplicably finds herself opening up to him. He swamps her with love letters when they return to their respective homes, until she decides to visit him for a weekend in Tucson. His passion proves to have been written with disappearing ink, but back in New York, Nona finds that her marriage has slipped its moorings in her absence: She and Roy separate with rapidly dwindling hopes of reconciliation. In despair, she picks up the book project again, contacting her father's last lover, a man, who warms to her and reveals a side of daddy she never knew. She draws some comfort from her emerging knowledge of her father. Yoga and meditation, along with a dog, also provide comfort, enabling her to cope with a near- miss from breast cancer, and when Ray proposes a honeymoon they never had, she finds herself ready, tentatively, to begin again--a decision sorely tested when yet another unexpected disaster disrupts their lives. No dazzling, high-powered dynamics here, but, rather, a steady, superbly insightful study of a life as quietly complex as the reader's own: a tale that touches the heart of what it is to be human. ($30,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-017276-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996


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