Lying Awake

by Mark Salzman | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0375406328 Global Overview for this book
Registered by DrBrown of Sierra Madre, California USA on 6/21/2003
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by DrBrown from Sierra Madre, California USA on Saturday, June 21, 2003
Do you expect to get interested in a book about nuns? Well, you're in for a treat!

Journal Entry 2 by DrBrown from Sierra Madre, California USA on Monday, June 23, 2003
For the Bizarre BookRing... Here is the order:

amynsperry
kikimasu
pchemphd
Davitraka
Mom-of-one
Guinneth
LaurieS
lightwavz
aaratnayake
sweetsangria
caffeinechic
DrBrown

Journal Entry 3 by amynsperry from Tulsa, Oklahoma USA on Saturday, June 28, 2003
Yay! My first Bizarre book!

Of course, the mailman would also deliver another BookRing book to me today. I've been signing up for BookRings for months without getting one and now two come on the same day?! That in itself is a bit bizarre. Didn't Murphy write a law about that?

I'll be reading the other book I got today, To Kill a Mockingbird, first. This should allow time for kikimasu to read House of Leaves (which is quite a large tome).

Journal Entry 4 by amynsperry from Tulsa, Oklahoma USA on Monday, July 07, 2003
Lying Awake tells the story of Helen, known to her fellow nuns as Sister John. In the tradition of Saint Teresa of Avila, Sister John is caught up in an ecstatic whirlwind of visions and closeness with her Maker that cause a touch of jealousy among her fellow nuns. However, the sell of her prose and poetry which comes prolithicly with her miraculous experiences helps to support their small Carmelite monastery. Unfortunately, these experiences are accompanied by tremendous and debilitating headaches. With the possibility that the two may be related, Sister John must decide if it's more selfish to rid herself of the headaches or more selfish to keep her ecstatic world intact.

I've never met a nun in person. But through the beautiful prose in this novel, I feel as if I've lived among them. I do, however, wonder about the accuracy of the life of the nun as well as the theology that Mark Salzman puts forth in his novel. Some of the things that Sister John feels about the nature of God almost seem Gnostic in nature: "In the fire of his embrace, all that was her ceased to exist. Only what was God remained. I am. The cloister bell, the voice of Christ. He spoke again: I am. She tried to obey but was frozen in beauty, like a fly trapped in amber. She could not move. Nothing exists apart from me. Self had been an illusion, a dream. God dreaming." Are these thoughts simply a product of Sister John's feeling of union with God or are these thoughts a product of the teachings of the Catholic Church?

I did enjoy some of the other thoughts put forth in the novel. I can tell that Mark Salzman is a thinker and a philosopher, and I admire the thought processes that he relays throughout the novel. I especially liked this ponderance from Sister John as she struggles with the possibility of losing her closeness to God if she loses her "Miracle": "What if I have it all upside down? What if I'm the one who knows nothing of God, & the people in the world are actually interceding on my behalf with their ordinary, daily struggles?"

Despite the beauty and depth of this novel on one level, there were three things that were dissatisfactory about this novel. First of all, the author doesn't make it clear enough that Helen and Sister John are the same person. Also, the other nuns' characters are not very well-developed. Lastly, the storyline is easily guessed from the beginning (especially if one knows anything about Saint Teresa of Avila).

Journal Entry 5 by pchemphd from Deland, Florida USA on Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Looks interesting. Adding to mount TBR.

Journal Entry 6 by pchemphd from Deland, Florida USA on Saturday, June 05, 2004
This is a beautiful book! I read it in one sitting and was brought to tears. By the end, you feel like you know Sister John personally. I really feel inadequate when trying to describe this book. It is truly a must-read. (And boy does that sound trite.)

Release planned for Thursday, June 17, 2004 at fellow bookcrosser in fellow bookcrosser, postal release USA.

Sending this one along to Mom-of-one. I hope you enjoy it! It's a really great book.

Journal Entry 8 by Mom-of-one from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA on Monday, August 02, 2004
Received this awhile ago, but have been so busy I forgot to journal it! I'm halfway through the story and am finding it just beautiful! I'll hurry and finish and send it on to the next person! I apologize for keeping it so long!

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