Insomnia by Stephen King

Insomnia by Stephen King is very different from his other horror novels: less gruesome, gory, and terrifying, more supernatural and speculative. It will challenge any preconceived notions or beliefs you have about fate and chance, life and death, and everyone’s purpose and even powers in this world. A sleep-deprived elderly man named Ralph is susceptible to what he at first believes to be hallucinations, but the auras he perceives not only are real, they, through the working of two timeless beings, reveal to him secret knowledge. With the advice of two servants of the Purpose, Ralph and Lois learn about ka, the great wheel of being, and they activate a previously untapped power for a mission that could save thousands of lives. For anyone who was ever interested in Greek mythology’s three fates, or who has ever wondered about their own importance or designation, and the other beings that play roles in it, “Insomnia” is a book that will unfurl radical concepts and perhaps alter your beliefs about the four constants: Life, Death, the Purpose, and the Random.

Similar Recommended Readings:

If you liked the way that “Insomnia” warped your view of life and death and purpose, and those above us with great power who carry out orders, yet still need our help, try “This Present Darkness” or “Piercing the Darkness” by Frank Peretti, or for SciFi fans, “Out of the Silent Planet” by C. S. Lewis.

If you enjoy fantasy fiction and like the way Ralph and Lois were sort of heroes stumbling their way through a greater world of power they’d never known before, and the way you learned about it with them, look up the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodkind, starting with “Wizard’s First Rule.”

If you liked Stephen King’s writing style, and you enjoyed the supernatural aspects of the book and the way characters with deeper knowledge guided people, try “Hearts in Atlantis” by Stephen King, or “The Green Mile” for more tragic supernatural elements that will endear you to the main characters. Also, some of the characters in this book appear in “Hearts in Atlantis” (try to think about who the “low men” are) and the “Gunslinger” series, which starts with “Gunslinger: Dark Tower Volume 1.”

The Recipe:

Breakfast in a Muffin Tin Bowls
Since most of the foods mentioned in this book aren’t very cupcake-friendly (a packet of instant chicken noodle soup for example), instead we can make something that is reminiscent of, and at least as filling as, the breakfast that Lois and Ralph share together at the diner before visiting the civic center. This recipe was influenced by the cunning wiles of pinterest (feel free to find and follow my recipes there). So for the book “Insomnia,” the recipe is for Breakfast in a Muffin Tin Bowls with bacon, eggs, hash browns, and shredded cheese.

Ingredients:

• A large sized muffin pan (average size works too, but bigger is better, since you can fit more food in each cup)
• A bag of frozen hash browns, defrosted
• Eggs
• Thick slab bacon (any flavor you prefer, my husband is a big fan of black peppercorn)
• Shredded cheese (I love extra sharp cheddar best)
• Green onions or chives for topping, if desired

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees. You’re going to need a larger sized muffin tin for this, a regular one won’t be able to hold all the food we’re going to stuff into them well, and you’ll have to make more of them. Spray the inside of the muffin pan with olive oil or whatever type you use. Do NOT use cupcake liners for this recipe. Line the bottom of each “cupcake” with about ¼” to ½” deep layer of hash browns. You choose now how many you want to make, and just line enough for each person. One per person is usually good, unless you’re really hungry and want two. Make sure they don’t have any extra moisture dripping from them. If they do, use a paper towel or dish cloth to soak up the excess liquid BEFORE placing them in the pan (if you don’t, your hash browns will be soggy and gross instead of crispy and delicious). Then put them in the oven (you can salt and pepper them lightly, if you want) for about 10-15 minutes, or until they turn golden around the edges. When it’s done, take your pan out of the oven, and carefully line the inside top of each “cupcake” with the bacon, overlaying the edges if needed. It’s ok if you have to unfurl the bacon over the top edges of each cup to help them lay flatter. Then crack one large egg into each cup, season with salt and pepper, and your shredded cheese of choice. Place pan back in the oven and bake an additional ten minutes or more, until eggs look fully cooked and cheese is melted. Let cool about five minutes before trying to eat. Unless you want to burn the inside of your mouth, and not be able to taste the delicious concoction you just created. Top with your chopped green onions or chives, if you wish.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why do you think Ralph’s hands started to disappear when he placed them on Ed? How was Dorrance in tune enough to notice this when no one else did?
2. What do you think about the relationship between auras and color? Do you think they are linked to certain emotions (red-anger or pain, blue-sadness or exhaustion, yellow-fear or happiness), or do you think a person’s general base color could be linked more to a person’s favorite colors?
3. How did you feel about the baby being able to see Ralph’s aura? Or the fact that the dog could see the little bald doctors? Do you think animals and small children are more receptive to things like that? If so, why?
4. Who, or what, do you think was responsible for placing Ralph’s can of mace in his jacket pocket where he would need it?
5. Why didn’t the first snipping of Rosalie’s aura by Atropos kill her? Does death come in stages? Are there levels to dying? What makes you think so?
6. Because one of its functions (according to the book) is as a clock, do you think aura colors change depending on the age of a person and their closeness to their own death—not just black, like the death bags, but blue, like Ralph and Lois’ auras?
7. Why do you suppose only short-timers can oppose the will of Atropos? Could it be because Clotho and Lachesis are bound by the Purpose and cannot stray from it, just as Atropos is bound by the Random, and only the (sometimes unaware) short-timers, can sway between one and the other?
8. Doctor number three, Atropos, had physical representations, souvenirs, for each person’s life he took. How accurate do you feel each object was in portraying that individual? What physical object do you think would represent you, if you were to be a victim of the Random?
9. After torturing Atropos and disposing of the scalpel, Ralph felt disgusted with himself and wanted to cry. How does this show him to be more human, and like a soldier, than he realizes? Didn’t he do what was necessary to get information and protection from Atropos?
10. How do you feel about the concept of Great Ones? Or about that, according to Lachesis and Clotho, Hitler had to live and happen or there would be no world anymore? What can you think of that could have been worse than him? Or can we not think of anything because our minds have been protected, and these greater horrors have maybe been prevented? Does this make you grateful for even some of the perceived “bad” things in life?

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