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Sweet Dreams

Brad Bigelow is the editor of the excellent Neglected Books.

Sweet_dreams If I had to spend the rest of my life on a desert island, I wouldn't mind having with me a book that reminded me that even heaven has its drawbacks. Michael Frayn once said that the basis of his 1973 novel, "Sweet Dreams", to debunk the idea that you could have any absolute happiness--even in heaven. Heaven, as his protagonist, Howard Baker discovers, does have its share of delights: you can fly, if you feel like it. You can find that wonderful pencil box you coveted as a seven year-old. You can check yourself out in shop windows as you pass by--without turning your head. And you can enjoy "a perfect night's sleep–deep, clear, and  refreshing, like gliding down through sunlit water on a hot day."

Unfortunately, at least in Frayn's logical view of heaven, you can't make one thing better without making other things worse. Howard eventually learns that getting everything he wants just means he finds different things to want. This does not, however, leave him despondent. In fact, he finds his relationship with the universe growing ever "more subtle and devious. Things couldn't be better. Because every day they are." Sweet Dreams is full of lovely, mathematically elegant little constructions like that. Frayn has said that the books' prose is "as good as I'll ever write"--and it's the finest illustration of "limpid" prose you'll ever read.

  • Read Wiki's snippet on Sweet Dreams.
  • Go here to find out what Wiki has to say about Frayn.
  • You can found out a bit more about Frayn here.
  • If you fancy listening to an interview with the author then go here.
  • Pick up a second hand copy of Sweet Dreams here.
  • You can order a new copy here.


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