I mounted my insomnia with whiskey and audiobooks.
Severely. I used to be a horrible non-sleeper, as soon as upon a time. Within the small hours, within the little pointy hours, spouse asleep, son asleep, canine asleep, when the entire condominium appeared to creak and bulge like a vessel rigged for oblivion, I’d creep onto the sofa and torture myself with last-man-in-the-worldness. However then I found it. I synthesized it: Jameson, headphones. The antidote. The warming, blurring-the-edges whiskey—a shot or two, no extra—and the human voice.
First it was John le Carré novels. English voices murmuring about espionage—to a boarding-school boy like me, a cracked product of the Institution, intensely soothing. Then it was Linda Hamilton (sure, Linda Hamilton of Terminator) studying Martin Amis’s Night time Practice; Michael Cochrane studying Evelyn Waugh’s The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (a efficiency of extraordinary Pinfoldian vitality—when Cochrane enunciates the phrase parliamentary it has six syllables); and John Moffatt studying Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. Consider me, nothing lays you out like The Faerie Queene. I don’t assume I’ve ever made it to the second canto.
It’s very late-stage capitalism, in fact, to take a seat there or lie there in your envelope of sound, your non-public leisure capsule, technologically sealed and cerebrally catered to, fidgeting with the quantity. However being learn to is historical. I really like a podcast—the chitchat, the colloquy—however that is deeper: the studying voice, the singular storytelling voice, thrums within the reminiscence tunnels of the species. After I’m listening to an audiobook, I’m being entertained like a drained ploughman. I’m being lulled, bardically lulled, like a drunken baron at an extended feast desk, pork grease shining on my chin. I’m being quieted like a baby. I’m being spellbound like a face caught in firelight.
And, groggy as I could be, I’m very choosy about my readers. The voice I’m listening to ought to be elevated, however not theatrical. Not too near the mic: no fizzing sibilants or sticky plosives. Not too quick—I want each phrase to land. However not too sluggish, both—I’ll get agitated.
One other factor: no super-fancy prose. No Nabokov. As a reader/author I’m all for the excessive type—the trick, as I wish to say, is to go too far with out going too far. However being learn to just isn’t like studying. It engages a denser, extra passive, and dimly questioning a part of the mind. Epics work nicely: The Lord of the Rings, Seamus Heaney studying his Beowulf. You’re near the origins of expertise right here, the all-mothering darkness. And should you’re susceptible, and cozy, and maybe slightly buzzed, you’ll sleep.
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