Altered states

Lying Awake, by Mark Salzman

Art and religion, in their different ways, seek to find the center of things, the reality at the heart of the concrete. At times, they meet. Mark Salzman explores contemplative prayer in his brief, beautifully written third novel. It's the story of Sister John of the Cross, a member of a Carmelite monastery outside Los Angeles.

Salzman captures her visions and experiences in spare, glistening prose: "Pure awareness stripped her of everything. She became an ember carried upward by the heat of an invisible flame." She is also a published poet, an accomplishment that tempts her with pride and her sisters with envy.


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