The Art of Lying Down: A Guide to Horizontal Living

Bernd Brunner, trans. from the German by Lori Lantz . Melville (Random, dist.), $19.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-61219-309-0
In this airy, Calvino-esque collection of essays, the history, science, and engineering of sleep is examined in great depth. Brunner, author of several whimsical nonfiction treatises (Inventing the Christmas Tree) divides the supine position we spend one-third of our lives in into a kind of cubist portrait, first scrutinizing its subject but then "The History of the Mattress" flows dreamily into "The Archaeology of Lying Down." Readers looking for ground-breaking or provocative philosophy on sleep may be disappointed: instead, Brunner incorporates a vast body of extant knowledge and history of sleep, its traditions, superstitions and accessories, into a kind of handbook for those curiosity-sleepers who drawn to cultural history. Though, for a book that calls itself the "Guide to Horizontal Living," sex and dreaming, two enormous aspects of the perfectly nicknamed horizontal life, are conspicuously absent—though perhaps, we may hope, these are secondary and tertiary volumes. Nevertheless, this is a sweet, somnolent book—a lovely premise, chock full of interesting history, and guided by a charming narrative voice, sure to be beloved by whichever lucky reader leaves it on their bedside table. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
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