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F. Scott Fitzgerald's short piece about insomnia is what we might today call "autofiction" -- a story that might or might not be based on his own experience. Anyone who's dealt with thoughts and anxieties they can't quite keep out of mind, especially in those late hours when there's nothing else to block them out, will feel like it's their experience too.
In a first-person, confessional tone, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story explores chronic insomnia: an unnamed narrator struggles each night to fall asleep. From the mosquito he blames for first disrupting his bedtime routine to the escapist fantasies he uses to try and lull himself to sleep, the narrator draws us in with self-deprecating wit — but as the night goes on his desperation boils over into a personal crisis, only to collapse with exhaustion and wake up to face another day and night of the same. Fitzgerald, a heavy drinker for most of his short life, portrays insomnia as a vicious cycle of self-reproach and oblivion eerily reminiscent of addiction.
Read full text from where it was first published in Esquire, December 1, 1934
Sample discussion questions
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940), known professionally as F. Scott Fitzgerald, was an American novelist and short story writer, whose works illustrate the Jazz Age. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. [Wikipedia]
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