Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 108: Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights

1 Comment

Welcome, Book Fighters, to 2016! It’s a new year, and things are going to be different around here. No more messing around. Just professional, serious book criticism. After, that is, our usual 7-15 minutes of idle chit chat. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that you don’t want to change your life too suddenly. Resolutions need to be phased in!

Anyway, we do have a book to discuss this week, which is Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights. It’s another short novel, one more in Mike’s series of “first person, loosely plotted” picks of the past few months. It is okay. It maybe left us both a little underwhelmed. Or maybe we’re just tired and cranky, here at the tail end of the holiday season.


We try to figure out why the book left both of us a little cold, given that we’ve both liked other, similar novels. We also do our other, usual Book Fight-y things, like catch up about our respective Christmases, and bicker about which of us is the nice one and which of us is the mean one.

You can stream today’s episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we talked about this week. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re on Facebook, and gradually getting better about posting studio pics and links and such. So come visit us over there, like our page, etc. etc.

You can also support the show by shopping at Powell’s: if you click on any of the links around our site, then shop as you normally would, we’ll get a small percentage of every dollar you spend.


Download Episode 108 (right-click, save-as)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

One thought on “Episode 108: Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights

  1. ’ unwillingness to engage in any score settling or setting straight of the record is nothing short of remarkable and, for hungry wound-hunters, doubtless a disappointment. While the book does possess a quality of allowed intimacy, verbatim reports of unpleasant happenings are not what are preoccupying Hardwick’s busy mind as it ranges around its night thoughts. If anything, her antipathetic response to Lowell’s aggressively specific “ Yet why not say what happened? ” might be contained in her very different question: “Can it be that I am the subject?” Perhaps this is a latent shade of the maternal self-desertion showing through or it may, more simply, be the rejoinder of a woman who has made a self for herself and therefore finds that self under no obligation to prove anything to anyone. Either way, the immobility of the literal and factual is too restrictive for Hardwick. For her the sum of a life’s acts is far too insufficient a calculator of value, or meaning, to warrant the effort required to catalogue them. Fittingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, she chose to remain both ambiguous and ambivalent on the issue of autobiography in

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