The New Yorker Reader: “Sleep,” by Roddy Doyle

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10/16/2008 4:32 PM |

It hurts but it’s worth it.

It’s about three quarters of the way through this story that Doyle casually drops a bit of information that makes the structure of the story — retrospective but fluttering about between summary and anecdote — understandable: basically it’s a life-flashing-before-his-eyes deal, and it’s all been “grand”, to use a word that keeps coming up.

The gimmick is that this guy’s wife sleeps a lot — once all the way through a Friday, we’re told — and it ends up being sort of a metaphor for joy in domesticity, for a kind of happy placidity. Everything, all the ups and downs and banalities and adventures, is exciting and happy and cause for celebration in Doyle’s telling of the man’s life; meanwhile, “she’d slept through the recession, the boom, and she was sleeping through the new recession,” like whatever happens everything’s going to be ok, to be grand. It’s maybe not much of a story but it feels nice when it’s over.