Lying in Bed: A Novel

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Overview

Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters. LYING IN BED begins with the voice of a strange, compelling speaker. The more we learn of his life and his most unusual marriage, the less we are sure of who he is and what he says. LYING IN BED first seduces us with its intense storytelling, then ensnares us in a dangerous psychological and erotic labyrinth we never want to leave.

At the center of this novel is a strange, compelling speaker who draws ...

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Lying in Bed

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Overview

Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters. LYING IN BED begins with the voice of a strange, compelling speaker. The more we learn of his life and his most unusual marriage, the less we are sure of who he is and what he says. LYING IN BED first seduces us with its intense storytelling, then ensnares us in a dangerous psychological and erotic labyrinth we never want to leave.

At the center of this novel is a strange, compelling speaker who draws readers into his passions and fixations. The more readers learn of his life, the less they are sure of who he really is. In the tradition of Nicholson Baker's Vox, Lying in Bed seduces readers with its intense storytelling, ensnaring them in a dangerous erotic web from which they never want to leave.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Landis, former editor-in-chief at William Morrow (where he published writers like Robert Pirsig and Richard Powers, a possible clue to his offbeat mindset), is presenting this as his first novel, although he has written other adult and children's titles under pseudonyms. Likely to cause a considerable stir, it's one of the most uninhibited and intensely sexy novels to appear in some time. Its eroticism is not just incidental but central, suffusing the lives of the besotted pair in whose voices it is told. John Chambers is a wealthy, utterly self-absorbed intellectual, devoted to Nietzsche, elaborate wordplay (he constantly employs words that are not even in the dictionary) and classical music, which echoes at all hours through his splendid SoHo loft. So lost inside his own head that he once even gave up speech, he has also abjured sex-until he meets the oddly named Clara Bell. In flight from a perverse family in California, Clara is the essence of promiscuity-though paradoxically virginal, having developed an extreme form of mutual masturbation that delights her many male companions. She is as deliberately unintellectual as John is cerebral (her passion is antique quilts, in which she deals), but when they meet, and soon marry, they quite literally lose themselves in each other. The book takes place in the course of an evening and night Clara spends away on a mysterious errand. As John passionately awaits her return, he immerses himself in thoughts of her and later in her utterly frank diaries-and he has the strangest encounter with a Chinese-food delivery man. Landis brilliantly catches the two very distinct voices of John and Clara-he's an egghead; she's impulsive, pragmatic, funny-and the reader quickly becomes enmeshed in the dreamily concupiscent atmosphere of their partnership, in which audacious sexuality is the norm. There will be those who object to a scene that seems to have strayed in from Bret Easton Ellis, and the denouement is tricky rather than inevitable; but Lying in Bed exerts an almost hypnotic attraction and offers some genuine insights-discomforting, exultant, even comic-into the power of sex. 25,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (June)
Library Journal
This nearly plotless novel takes place in the course of one evening while John Chambers waits for his wife Clara to return home from a mysterious appointment. Chambers's musings on his marriage, accompanied by excerpts from Clara's diaries, take the reader on a voyeuristic trip through a tangled web of desire, obsession, and (perhaps) a murder, in which overly erudite references to music, philosophy, and literature are served up with a goodly amount of the joys of sexual self-pleasure. A self-conscious, ostentatiously literary style and a narcissistic, unlikeable narrator will limit the appeal of this first novel to confirmed lovers of erotica. Those hunting for a combination of The Story of O and The Bridges of Madison County should look no further. Buy accordingly.-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Donna Seaman
This is an annoying if captivating novel. Landis, a New York publisher turned writer, is inventive and manipulative, parlaying his love for unusual words, philosophy, and explicit sexual descriptions into a waggish portrait of a marriage. John Chambers is a wealthy and contemplative recluse until he finds a lost diary and returns it to its strikingly beautiful and provocative owner. Once he meets Clara, a tantalizing creature, he abandons his asceticism without regret. Clara has, if we are to believe what we learn in flashbacks, a bizarre sexual history and is instantly and irrevocably attracted to this handsome innocent who adores Bach and quotes Nietzsche. These two opposites find bliss in their oversize bed until, one night, Clara goes off on a mysterious mission. John seems to go quite mad in her absence, but we can't be sure: we're too caught up in the eroticism of his musings to sort out what are actual events and what are memories and fantasies. Landis has constructed a veritable hall of mirrors, all reflection and seduction, and we both like and resent it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565120686
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 1/6/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,457,212
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

J.D. Landis lives with his wife and three children in New Hampshire and New York.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 15, 2012

    J.D. Landis is an author that doesn't get nearly enough credit.

    J.D. Landis is an author that doesn't get nearly enough credit. He's one of my favorites. Everything about his writing is perfection. Every line makes you think and serves a purpose to the overall plot. Poetic. Deep. Erotic. Real. Its not something you can just read and forget about; it stays with you. I would recommend any of Landis' books wholeheartedly. If you don't read it then you don't know what you're missing.

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