Really Great Book Alert!! Sleep Donation
This is advertised as a novella. Amazon suggested a reading time is just over an hour. I am a fast reader and it took me two hours. The wonderfully complex vocabulary and sentence structures were a delight to be appreciated and not rushed. I found myself using a dictionary because I wanted to get a more precise appeal for what the author wanted me to understand. I like to review books and I give a lot of three and four-star ratings but few five-star ratings. This is a five. I haven’t seen such masterful and creative use of language since William F. Buckley (sorry if any political sensibilities got trampled here).
In the United States, there is a new illness that is attacking more and more people each day. People cannot sleep, but this is not simple insomnia. The new sufferers cannot sleep at all, anytime; they stay awake until they die of exhaustion. This is the premise of Sleep Donation, a short novel by Karen Russell. The novel tells us the new disease is only present in America although only the US is discussed. Three-quarters of the way through the book the disease finally attacks Asian and European countries. How did it get there? That is one of the mysteries in the story.
Two very rich and successful businessmen brothers (think Warren Buffet rich) altruistically abandon their businesses and form an organization that will help the afflicted. Their technology borrows sleep from those who can sleep and gives it to the needy. If the borrowed sleep is pure, the sufferers regenerate their own ability to sleep. The disease is cured for them. The problem is to find donors who can donate pure sleep. There is only one donor, in the US and the world, who has the purity necessary, Baby A. She is not even a year old when she becomes the sole donor of sleep pure enough to cure the ill. She can donate up to six hours sleep per day. Baby A’s mom is pleased to help; the baby’s father less so. A conflict throughout the story is the father’s unwillingness to allow the continued participation of his daughter in saving the world. Trish Edgewater, our hero, will waffle back and forth on the ethics of using the infant hero Baby A. She will be responsible for convincing the parents of the need for continuing donations by the sole pure donor until such time a clone serum can be developed from Baby A’s donations.
The only problem is that this novel made such a profound effect on me that I am going to have to take a break before starting something new. Anything after this book will be less fun.