Trying to Sleep

In the October issue of New English Review, the good doctor is back to recount his brief bouts with insomnia, the dangers of barbiturate sleeping pills, encountering pure cocaine in an African hospital, and lying awake during sleepless nights listening to the varied sounds of his house.

The story reminds me, however, of one told by Boris Cyrilnuk, a French psychiatrist, at the beginning of one of his books. One day a child who had hitherto been mute asked his parents to pass the salt. They asked him why he spoke only now, and not previously. “Until now,” he said, “everything has been perfect.”

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