Sleeping Patterns by JR Crook
|Sleeping Patterns by JR Crook|
|Genre: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: It's an interesting little philosophical thought provoker, but more for those who enjoy a good literary puzzle than those who expect to submerge themselves in a story with fully drawn characters.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 112||Date: July 2012|
|Publisher: Legend Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Anneli Strandli lives with insomniacally introverted Berry Walker, among others but not in a romantically co-habiting way. They all share student accommodation complete with attendant noise and comings and goings. Berry isn’t the most forthcoming of people but Anneli discovers a manuscript in his desk and so, sneaking into his room to read it, she hopes to discover from his writings the essence of Berry that his private nature hides. Meanwhile Berry is falling in love but has difficulty communicating it to the person concerned.
One thing you soon realise about Sleeping Patters is it's not a 'read in front of the telly' kind of novel. It needs a certain amount of concentration; not a university degree full, but a small level of brain engagement is required. This is because it's a puzzle that kicks off before the story even starts. The dedication In memory of the author sent me scurrying to search engines in a fit of vicarious bereavement but it's ok. As I type this, award winning debut author, 29 year old JR Crook is still alive, well and working on his second novel in London. After double checking his wellbeing with Bookbag Towers, realisation dawned: the dedication means what it actually says and not what we normally translate it as meaning. The page is then turned and the story starts to hit with conundrums piling on like over-eager rugby players.
To begin with the story isn't presented in chronological order. The chapters are jumbled but enticingly numbered in what would be the correct order almost daring you to be conventional and skip around them reading them in 'correct' sequence but then that would defy the author's original intention. Tripping back and forth through the timeline of the novel is normally a great device for manipulation of perceptions but I only had one real 'Aaaah!' moment of revelation and that was because I neglected to read the introduction. (Actually it was such a good 'Aaaah!' moment that I would heartily recommend this as a tactic.) Also there's very little real depth of characterisation; people do things and say things but there's not that much description to assist picture personalities or personifications. Don't let that put you off though: it's the sort of novel where characterisation and dramatic twists aren't necessarily necessary and there's more than enough to keep the pages turning.
The main reason for this is that Jamie Crook can certainly write. The language is beautiful and there are some interesting questions raised about age, the stuff of dreams, and, most intriguingly, the relationship between writers, their work and their readers. For instance, reminiscent of that famous sketch of Dickens surrounded by and talking to his literary characters, JR Crook places himself in the book amongst his creations. Is he present just as a character and part of the locomotion of the book or as puppeteer, directing his creations' movements from within whilst questioning them to discover their motivation? I'll leave that one to you.
The manuscript, revealed to us whilst Anneli reads it, is a little surreal, but there are, again, some deep moments and, as promised in the blurb, it brings us closer to an understanding of Berry.
Speaking personally I enjoyed what can almost be termed as a low impact mental aerobics class. The fact that it's a short novella means that I can re-read it to extract meanings I may have missed (as well as putting the Finnish passages through an online translation programme out of curiosity). However, Sleeping Patterns won't be everyone's cup of marmite and I have a feeling it will deaden as many.
I would like to thank Legend Press for providing Bookbag with a copy of this book for review.
If you've enjoyed this and would like to read something else out of chronological order then we suggest a classic example, marmite book and one of my favourite novels ever, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
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