The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas

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The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas

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Buy The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Home and Family
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A riff on psychiatric babble and personal self-help books, or a facile game-like excuse for half an hours’ rolling round on the covers? You decide.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 95 Date: February 2010
Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
ISBN: 978-1932416473

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We here at the Bookbag like to think we go the extra bit for our reviews. Taking my humble self, I’ve read sequels and prequels to make my verdicts more astute, watched films of books to add greater depth and other approaches to my opinions. I have never, however, enacted an entire book, with the help of my beloved S, in order to work out my approach.

This volume takes the premise that the positions in which couples sleep together are an insight into their private mind. Therefore, with the help of the line drawings of 39 (apparently all of THE 39) positions, one might see where one is going wrong. It’s a chicken and egg situation where you might learn you’re with the wrong bed partner, and change either them or your nocturnal habits, or in order to change yourself alter things having reflected on the contents here – with the help as they suggest of a ceiling-mounted camcorder.

Yes, if that isn’t a clue enough, this book is full of the highly improbable. It covers all manner of people – those who might be moving to work in Finland, those who relate to characters from Hart to Hart, those who have fond memories of the smell of hot laundry. It’s unfortunate that the dry, realistic style offers absurdity upon absurdity and never got as far as making me smile.

Some of the positions are offered with spurious and inane rules, as well – some involve joining your fellow after they’ve been asleep for two hours, or require Zen-like practice before you’re ready to adopt them. One requires you both to stand sideways on to the end of the bed, and flop on to it in sync, arriving at the ideal state, where the book has it you will be happy to stay for the next eight hours – assuming you’re doing it right.

Well beyond this being the most absurd self-help cod psychology parody imaginable, is there a benefit? Actually, as the road test proved, yes. It takes half an hour to instruct a friend into all the 39 positions (and their slight variants), and as a result you learn nothing about each other but have some sort of fun. The beloved S and I found we’d often got into some of the positions in lolling around together over ten and a half years, and that we liked some and knew others to be ridiculous. The one where someone lies completely on their front in the centre of the bed, and the other lies completely on their front on their partner, is obviously fallacious. She liked 'Excalibur', with me the sword (no, it’s not rude), and I liked 'The Patient Doctor' – which, if this book contained an ounce of truth, probably means we’re completely inappropriate and should never so much as look at another duvet ever again.

Whatever, I can declare I won’t be looking at this book again in any great hurry. There was something to be had in the bizarre writing with the bland, formal style so accurate, but it wasn’t the intended humorous effect. It served instead as the most PG adult game instruction manual – but I'm not convinced that was the desired outcome. It certainly remains the most novel novelty book I can think of – a book that will send you to bed, but not to sleep.

I have to give the writing two stars, a few more for what it inspired - and, of course, 5 stars for the beloved S.

I must thank the wacky people at McSweeney’s for my review copy.

To avoid sleep we can recommend Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel Everett.

Buy The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas at Amazon.com.

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Sue said:

I've just tried the stand sideways on to the end of the bed, and flop on to it in sync. I refuse to even attempt to sleep with my legs dangling off the end of the bed.

As a matter of interest does it cover the positions when there's a thunderstorm or fireworks and two large Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs crawl into bed to 'look after' us?


John said:

Yes, in fact it does - I should have mentioned the handy key given for all positions, and following that you see that many allow space to accommodate other people - your children principally! - and pets.

I cannot help with your flopping and dangling problems, Sue.


Sue said:

You wait until you're my age and you'll understand!