Man, I really, REALLY want to like Karen Russell s work I mean, I found the plot of this e novella wherein what lies ahead for us is a world in which a strange, disturbing insomnia has gripped the nation, forcing people with healthy sleep patterns to donate their sleep to the less fortunate in a kind of futuristic blood bank of zzzs to be fascinating.But about mid way through, I hit a snag of sorts with Russell s writing that reminded me of why, despite the hoopla that surrounded it, her Swamplandia failed to stack up for me in EXACTLY the same way And I think it s this Russell s writing overreaches and, at times, can easily pass as being condescending to the reader I mean, I d like to think I m a well read person, someone with a than average decent vocabulary But when I m highlighting words on my phone, ones she s chosen to use as her adjectives of choice, searching for their meaning chitinous shell of sarcasm the actual ungulate nacreous skin , then enough already I mean, WE GET IT You re REALLY REALLY smart and you have the vocabulary to prove it and I don t know..maybe hold degrees in biology and astrology and Greek mythology Seriously, the girl knows her stuff in those departments or else no way would she be drawing from the banks of words she does to describe the everyday and mundane It s just weird for meI ve yet to experience this phenomenon with any other writers I read, this disconnect of sorts in wanting to like the writer than I do and feeling that the promise is there if she would just, I don t know, maybe get out of her own way a little bit or have an editor to address this issue with her And who knows, perhaps I m the only one to feel this way about Russell s work and it s likely I am, publishing darling that she is , but I just think if she would lose hold on her tendencies to overreach with all those descriptions of hers, then her books would be that much better out of the ballpark awesome even Unfortunately, after two strikes, I m not so sure I m willing to find out. Really enjoyed this but the ending was so abrupt That works for short stories those being Russell s strength , but when I invest in a novella length story that is so engrossing, I want a little resolution. Sleep Donation is the first book from a new publisher Atavist Books that appears to be publishing predominantly e books, with some of the titles being available in print format, too They ve got an impressive looking group of authors lined up for their first wave of releases, they have some people from interesting parts of the publishing world running things and even importantly it looks like they are going to be giving some time to pushing each book to try to help build careers and not just quick flash in the pan sales This publisher looks like it could be something awesome I go any farther, because I ll probably forget to mention this if I don t say it now I received this book free from Netgalley I m writing this review like every other review I ve ever written for this website without any kind of compensation I know that there are books on insomnia out there, but until recently I hadn t read any But now there are two that will be coming out in the early part of 2014 This one and Black Moon I recommend them both and while this book isn t technically a dystopia it does point to another possibility of the whimper the world might end in The main character of the story, Trish, is part of a group that collects sleep from donors to give to people suffering from a lethal insomnia Unlike the insomnia we have now, where suffers still manage micro sleep that keeps them from completely breaking down from the stress of being constantly awake, this is full fledged, no sleep, no rest no matter how hard you try and if you don t sleep in about three weeks you will die type of insomnia Sleep from healthy sleepers can be given to the insomniacs, and there is a fair chance that they may break free from the clutches of sleeplessness and return to normal sleep Trish is the top recruiter for Slumber Corps., a non profit organization that is like a blood bank, but instead of going around collecting blood, they hook up healthy sleepers to some machines and harvest their sleep to be given to those in need Trish s sister was the first known victim of lethal insomnia, and the way that Trish can transfer the story of her sister to others is the secret to her success at getting people to donate their sleep Karen Russell in the past has kind of reminded me of someone coming out of the George Saunders style of fiction writing Her books had that same kind of absurd edge mixed with compassion that Saunders does so well This story I see her adding some of the abstract qualities of Ben Marcus to her writing Like Marcus s Flame Alphabet, Sleep Donation is about a world in crisis over something relatively abstract In Marcus it was language that was a poison Here it is sleep, something we can know physically, but which it s kind of tough to wrap your head around what it would mean to donate sleep Besides being an interesting although fairly unlikely eschatology, the story is also an interesting look into what the nature of exchange relationships are At the center of the story is the gift exchange People donating expecting nothing in return except that knowledge that they may be helping someone out The reality that they are helping anyone isn t necessarily true Adults are recruited to donate sleep that Slumber Corps., knows is worthless just to get access to their child s sleep which could be beneficial Only thirty percent of people who receive sleep donations recover their regular sleeping patterns What you are donating, your gift may be worthless It may never be given to anyone You ll never know, but you are donating You are giving It s a tricky business thinking about gifts I no longer have some of the necessary brainpower to process what I want to think and put it into words, but this book stirred some of the rusted bits of my memory and tried to get them moving again A large part of Trish s success is that she gives the prospective donors the story of her sister She channels her dead sister in a manner of speaking to emotionally move the prospective donor and get them to give This makes the donation not a pure gift, what they expect in return is alleviation from the feelings that Trish s sister could have been saved if there had been sleep donations available then They are exchanging their sleep for relieving an uncomfortable state of mind But what about the children of the parents who are emotionally manipulated into entering in this exchange economy They are the real targets, they have the valuable sleep, but they aren t giving freely If a parent takes some of their kids toys when the kid isn t looking and hands them out to less privileged kids is the child giving the gift they don t know they are giving Can someone give something that isn t theirs And what if what you give is shitty and your gift ends up harming someone And what if money enters into this gift exchange economy Putting some of the scenes in this book against some of the late things that later Derrida wrote about gifts oh god, I really just wrote that , or with the ideas in Lewis Hyde s The Gift a book I ve kind of sort of read but never read cover to cover I think you start to get some interesting abstract depth to the story I hope I haven t scared off any potential readers with these last few paragraphs This isn t one of those cold novels that you can only enjoy if you play around with some theory to make it interesting It s good, and you should probably give it a try and support a new publisher that has some interesting ideas in changing the way books are published and promoted. Three stars means I liked it, right Well, I liked it So three stars Bam.Synopsis all up in yo face America has fallen under the dark spell of insomnia, and we follow a worker at the Sleep Corps The Corps siphon nice, peaceful sleep from thems than can, and inject it or something into thems that can t A great idea for a story, yes I concur.But the execution didn t do it for me First of ly, the narration is the dialog kind of narration, which is I always find incredibly hit or miss There were moments of beauty and genius, I won t lie It just wasn t consistently gripping Towards the end and it was only 120 pages I had to really work to finish it.So I liked it, and I m glad I read it, but it wasn t totally my cup of tea One of those books that are better as a memory of a story, rather than the book you re actually reading Did that make sense [ Download ] ♱ Sleep Donation ☤ From The Author Of The New York Times Bestseller Swamplandia , And Finalist For The Pulitzer Prize, An Imaginative And Haunting Novella About An Insomnia Epidemic Set In The Near FutureA Crisis Has Swept America Hundreds Of Thousands Have Lost The Ability To Sleep Enter The Slumber Corps, An Organization That Urges Healthy Dreamers To Donate Sleep To An Insomniac Under The Wealthy And Enigmatic Storch Brothers The Corps Reach Has Grown, With Outposts In Every Major US City Trish Edgewater, Whose Sister Dori Was One Of The First Victims Of The Lethal Insomnia, Has Spent The Past Seven Years Recruiting For The Corps But Trish S Faith In The Organization And In Her Own Motives Begins To Falter When She Is Confronted By Baby A, The First Universal Sleep Donor, And The Mysterious Donor Y Sleep Donation Explores A World Facing The End Of Sleep As We Know It, Where Night Worlds Offer Black Market Remedies To The Desperate And Sleep Deprived, And Where Even The Act Of Making A Gift Is Not As Simple As It Appears
4 starsWhat if insomnia was an epidemic And sleep could be donated to those in need karen has written a stellar review for this novella which initially led me to pick this one up for my kindle.This book tells the tale of an insomnia epidemic, and Karen Russell writes very vividly what happens to our bodies when we don t sleep Or we could just watch Christian Bale.But as we smart people know, going a year without sleep is physically and scientifically impossible Trish s sister Dori only lastedtwenty dayswithout sleep before she died.Trish is our narrator and she works for Slumber Corps, an independent nonprofit organization working on soliciting sleep donations from those who haven t been afflicted with the horrible disease Trish is very very good at her job, using her sob story of her dead sister to emotionally manipulate people into giving up something that they probably take for granted anyway But Trish doesn t see it that way She views her job as doing a service to the community, to the world She sees what she does as a beautiful hope that came out of a horrible tragedy If she can use what happened to her sister as a way to save lives, then she is making the world a beautiful and less tragic place However, the times she tells the tale, the she is haunted by it, by Dori herself, and the harder it is for Trish to get over itSometimes I think the right doctor could open my chest and find her there, my sister, frozen inside of me, like a face in a locket The story takes a sudden turn when Trish s bosses discover the first universal sleep donor Finally Unadulterated sleep Because just like any other kind of transfusion or transplant, some people do not accept other people s sleep well Sleep that is not your own comes with another s thoughts, dreams, desires, their life inside it And just like antibodies and antigens in blood and body tissues, rejected a sleep transfusion could cause a horrible and sometimes fatal reaction Finding a human being whose sleep is completely devoid of anything that might cause a reaction in another is a huge find Something that could eradicate the disease and bring things back to normal Her bosses put Trish in charge of bringing this donor on board.The donor is an infant Dubbed Baby A An infant who has no concept of what sleep donation or insomnia are An infant who hasn t even had a chance to live yet And her parents especially her father are very hard sells And Trish finds herself for the first time questioning everything she s been taught and everything she herself has been preaching to others She has used her sister s story to emotionally manipulate others, but has it also been the tool by which Trish herself has been manipulated Karen Russell writes this world very convincingly Almost too convincingly Scary convincingly Everything in her world building has scientific references and backboneSleep has been chased off the globe by our twenty four hour news cycle, our polluted skies and crops and waterways, the bald eyeballs of our glowing devices We Americans are sitting in an electric chair that we engineered Nightmares have become outbreaks, dreams like blood types Things that need to be tracked by government agencies like the CDC The whole realm of epidemiology has shifted from viral infections to dream parasites And she writes it in a way that seems so effortlessly realistic It sucks you into this world and makes you believe it And that s a hard thing to pull off, especially in a novella just over 100 pages.Another thing this book does is it creates conflicts that are ugly They are the inner emotional conflicts that make us all a little uncomfortable Because it delves into the ugliness of things that actually exist for real and the little lies we tell ourselves to convince us otherwise This book explores those thin lines between business and ethics, and that whole good for the whole rather than the individual mentality I decided to finally review this book because of the short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas I read recently which tackles these same themes As much as I like to believe in the goodness of humans, sometimes the badness becomes a disease itself, infecting and spreading the good intentions that nobody bothers to investigate.The thing that made me drop a star is the writing itself It is obvious that Karen Russell is a writer She knows her vocabulary and she knows her craft However, she embodies a writing style that makes her books hard to digest whole Very clinical Very scientific Lots of big words Weird pacing And these stylistic choices made the story a little clunky for me It wasn t fast paced nor was it as thrilling as I wanted it to be I felt a bit alienated as though I was reading a scientific journal at times and not a fictional story I found it hard to read than a few pages at a time And so it took me a month to read this 110 page novella.Bonus points for the Dune reference in a last name though.Thanks karen for putting this little ditty on my radar I will be sure to check out this author s other books. Sleep Donation is the story of an American nation increasingly unable to sleep We are never told the year, but the cultural references and the dollar sums made it appear to this reader to be in the not so distant future Rarely at first, but now with steadily increasing frequency, Americans are afflicted with an insomnia so total, that death results Our narrator, Trish Edgewood is a recruiter for Slumber Corp., the nation s non profit sleep bank Through science, sleep has taken on a blood like quality in that it can be collected from healthy donors and transfused to the suffering As the process is fairly new, and there is much fear about the condition and how it spreads, donors are difficult to come by Ms Edgewood, we discover, is among the best recruiters of donors because of her ability to relate the story of her own sister s death Her sister, Dori, was the first to die on the East Coast, and through Trish s skillful retelling of the events of her death, Dori has become the most famous victim, and the face of the sleep donation program.It is Trish s gift for recruiting that lands the Harkonnen family as donors, and specifically their daughter, known as Baby A It turns out that Baby A is the worlds only known universal donor , in that her sleep is so pure that all can be helped by her donations Because Baby A is so unique, there is an incredible demand on her donations Adding to that demand is the one time donation from a Donor Y who corrupts the nations sleep supply with a viral nightmare that spreads rapidly It is a nightmare so awful, that many who so desperately sought sleep, now do anything to remain awake, even though it will eventually cost them their lives It is the reactions to these two poles, the purity of Baby A, and the contagion of Donor Y that drive the story.Sleep donation is an excellent read that poses many interesting questions about identity, sincerity, honesty, exploitation and whether or not the ends justify the means It is another fantastic offering from one of America s great young novelists I highly recommend it.I should also note that I did not have any of the formatting problems experienced by some of the reviewers Perhaps those issues have been fixed Ok, so I finally finished this one It was only about a hundred pages or so, but for some reason, it took me several days to get through The writing was very good, so it wasn t that, just a pretty deep material to consider as I read through it.There s a lot of pragmatism and the whole do the ends justify the means going on in this story Do we really have the right to force people to donate in order to help others stay alive That s the heart of this story, with pure sleep as the necessary item for survival There s a insomnia epidemic, and those that can sleep are asked, at first, to donate hours of sleep, at the risk of losing sleep themselves, as well as potentially shortening their life The recruiters are increasingly becoming and forceful as the epidemic continues, and one recruiter, a star recruiter starts to question the means at which they are obtaining the sleep hours.As I said, this was a well written story, just had to stop to think about the courses of action we all take as we strive towards our goals Impacting, highly recommended. This was an extremely quick read, and the amnesia mythology was extremely interesting Unfortunately, I didn t find myself connecting to any of the characters or their stories Having no investment in them definitely overshadowed my enjoyment of the worldbuilding. It is a special kind of homelessness to be evicted from your dreams When I saw this on the list of anticipated books in 2014 from The Millions, I was shocked to find I had not heard of this novella by a favorite author or of the new Atavist Books, a new digital first publisher that has some exciting titles coming out soon.In Sleep Donation, people have randomly started developing insomnia so bad they die from it A company has discovered that people with pure sleep can sometimes jumpstart an insomniac back into regular sleep, but most people have tainted sleep unusable in a transfusion One of the sleep donor recruiters finds Baby A, and a family is thrown into a pattern of guilted donations that are most likely not harmful to the child.I love Russell best when her worlds are slightly outside of normal, and Sleep Donation fits the bill There is an entire culture developing of Orexins people who don t sleep in Night Worlds outside of most cities, and there is an underlying feeling of unrest and change The novella doesn t fully explore the story or the world that I sense is there, and I m actually hoping she writes about it.