David Pace is a man who has it all--a successful career as an almost-famous academic, a wife blessed with both beauty and brains, a young son, and a lovely home. But David's brain has begun to misfire. It shuts off when David is meant to be awake--when he's writing, when he's lecturing, when he's driving--but otherwise denies him any rest at all. Popping a variety of pills at an increasingly alarming rate, David struggles to remain alert, but his efforts become less and less effective, leaving his family in tatters and his career on the brink. Then, almost by accident, David finds himself with a loaded gun in his hands, and all of a sudden he feels tantalizingly, gloriously awake. The sensation, fuelled by a steady mix of pharmaceuticals, launches David toward the extremes of human behaviour, and as his choices become more and more abhorrent and the risks he is willing take more and more dangerous, David's sense of what is real, who he is and what he is capable of slips terrifyingly out of reach.
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A WASH OF CHEMICALS floods David’s brain and at once the urge is there, irresistible. What is the trigger, what switch opens the floodgate? If he could find it, he could control it. But even to think of the urge is to bring it on.
A National Post Best Book of the Year
A Toronto Star Book of the Year
"Undeniably compelling." —The Globe and Mail
"One of Ricci's most deeply felt novels . . . and one of his riskiest." —National Post
"Ricci's darkest and most disturbing fiction to date—and perhaps his most provocative. . . . Sleep quickly extends its central premise beyond its chilling dissection of the literal and particular insomnia of its protagonist, David Pace, to an indictment of the metaphorical, conflicted and collective drowsiness of an insomniac culture." —Winnipeg Free Press
"Taut, grim and absorbing . . . I couldn't turn away. . . . Ricci . . . is a beautiful writer and a deft storyteller. On the wings of his graceful prose, the reader is carried forward and then back in time and then ahead again. Some sequences feel like dreams. I devoured the book in barely three sittings—and then read it again to savour his language." —Montreal Gazette
"Harrowing . . . Ricci is such a good writer that, as the narrative hurtles to its inexorable conclusion, he makes believable every bit of David's twisted logic. . . . And his descriptions of the run-ups to David's blackouts are hauntingly convincing." —NOW
"Ricci has written a spare, tense novel that puts the reader in the . . . position of witness to Pace's dangerous dance on that thin tightrope. It is a dark but gripping read that does not let up." —CBC News (Manitoba)
From the Hardcover edition.