The first thing to say about “The Art of Sleeping Alone” is that it’s very French. It’s slim, chic and humorless, that is, a sophisticated bagatelle of a volume, filled with detours to exotic locales: the Sahara, Goa in India, the Greek island of Hydra.
It’s also gauzy and episodic and not particularly well written, yet it drifts along on a kind of existential bearnaise of its own secreting. It’s “Bonjour Tristesse” grown bruised, older, warier.
The book appears to be awkward, with a number of non sequiturs:
The opposite of experience is innocence, of course, and in “The Art of Sleeping Alone,” the author often longs to retreat from the adult world into one that can resemble childhood. She wants her life to be “soft and fluffy.” She wishes to be “the girl I’d been years before.”
At night, she hugs her clean pillows as if they were stuffed animals. When she sees a kind father with his children, she thinks, “Who had adored me like that since my parents?”
She takes long lavender milk baths, baths that are no longer just about the “Silkwood”-style scrubbing of the smell of men from her body. “I felt as if some divinity were rejoicing in me,” she writes. “Until then, water had been only a useful element, like the showers, for example, into which I rushed to cleanse myself of a presence after having let myself get caught.”
I am definitely NOT putting this one on my reading list.