Sleepwalker

The Mysterious Makings and Recovery of a Somnambulist

Foreword by Mark Mahowald
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About The Book

I came to in the middle of it, like waking inside a horror movie, silent scream and all. Eyes wide open. I was standing at an open window, staring at the dizzying curve of Riverside Drive, five floors below. I’d stopped, somehow, poised, about to jump.

Growing up the good girl in an Irish American family full of drinkers and terrible sleepers, Kathleen Frazier was twelve when her seemingly innocent sleepwalking turned dangerous. Over the next few years, she was a popular A+ student by day, the star of her high school musical. At night, she both longed for and dreaded sleep.

Frazier moved to Manhattan in the 1980s, hoping for a life in the theater but getting a run of sleepwalking performances instead. Efforts to abate her malady with drinking failed miserably. She became promiscuous, looking for nighttime companionship. Could a bed partner save her from flinging herself down a flight of stairs or out an open window? Exhaustion stalked her, and rest and love were seemingly out of reach.

This is the journey Frazier illuminates in her intimate memoir. While highlighting her quest to beat her sleep terrors and insomnia, this is ultimately a story of health, hope, and redemption.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Skyhorse (September 2015)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781634502351

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Raves and Reviews

"Some children are afraid of the dark or of monsters under their beds. But once Frazier started having sleepwalking episodes and night terrors, she had a very palpable reason to fear falling asleep. Over the next 20 years, as she recounts in this harrowing memoir, her anxiety over sleepwalking stole into every corner of her life, affecting her relationships and leading her to drink heavily in a futile attempt to keep the dangers of the night at bay. At times her sleepwalking put her in real danger, and even led to serious injuries, but the physical toll paled in comparison to the mental anguish she endured. While she rhapsodically relates her thrill at discovering her place on the stage as a career, she also acknowledges that during her young adulthood she was stalked by sleeplessness. As much an exploration of the harmful legacy from an unacknowledged family history of addiction and mental illness as an account of dealing with an unexplained sleep disorder, Frazier’s memoir records her search for the roots of her episodes as she memorably captures the tedium and terror of nights spent dreading sleep." —Booklist

"Kathleen Frazier has a story to tell and she knows how to tell it. Sleepwalker is a terrifying, compelling, and fascinating tale that takes us deep into the horrors of sleep walking and then reveals to us how the author managed to end a twenty-year nightmare." —Ellen Burstyn, award-winning actress, writer, teacher

“Kathleen Frazier is a gifted storyteller. In addition to providing insight into what chronic sleepwalking is like firsthand, this story also tells of a dysfunctional family, alcoholism, heartbreak, and tragedy. But there is love, light, laughter, and, above all, hope. This book will keep you awake and alert to the end.” —Malachy McCourt, New York Times bestselling author of A Monk Swimming

"Kathleen Frazier's Sleepwalker is a powerful and poignant account of her awakening from a long night of fear and self-doubt into the light of recovery and self-awareness. Her soulful combination of insight and unflinching honesty fills every page. This is a book that will inspire as well as enlighten." —Peter Quinn, winner of the American Book Award

"Sleepwalker is a brave, moving, frightening, and ultimately hopeful memoir. Kathleen Frazier vividly describes her strange and sometimes violent episodes of sleepwalking and night terrors that took hold of her as a child and nearly ruined her life. After several near-fatal sleepwalking incidents, she finally found the support she needed—from loved ones, and from medical experts in sleep disorders—to recover from the condition that held her in its dangerous grip for twenty years. Frazier offers the reader a fascinating and deeply personal glimpse into the interior world of a sleepwalker."
Alice Eve Cohen, award-winning author of The Year My Mother Came Back and What I Thought I Knew

"Nocturnal clouds haunt each page like a storm threatening. Well-observed and Irishly funny, mulish and ghoulish and death defying, darkly clangorous and boozy yet ultimately sobering, Frazier's eye-opening memoir will have you laughing nervously all night long. Riveting!" —Patrick Tracey, award-winning author of Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family's Schizophrenia

"A brave and harrowing story, told straight from the heart, full of hope and inspiration." —Mary Pat Kelly, bestselling author of Galway Bay and Of Irish Blood, director of Proud

"Powerful and poignant—honest and harrowing—a remarkable narrative of one woman’s struggle with decades long sleepwalking. It is about inherited loss and terror, family secrets, near-death experiences, but also about courage and in the end, it's a love story and a life-affirming journey." —Seamus Scanlon, author of As Close As You'll Ever Be

“Kathleen Frazier's memoir Sleepwalker is an amazingly honest, heartbreaking, haunting but ultimately illuminating study of the secrets behind our slumber and our dreams. A dazzling debut.” —Susan Shapiro, author of Lighting Up, Unhooked, and What's Never Said

"A vivid and engrossing saga that takes us from the comforting xenophobia of an Irish-American family to the competitive alleys of New York City's theatre world; all the while Ms. Frazier is haunted by the demons of sleeepwalking. This is a story of redemption and triumph—you find yourself rooting for the author through every line of this inspiring book." —Larry Kirwan, author of Green Suede Shoes

"Some children are afraid of the dark or of monsters under their beds. But once Frazier started having sleepwalking episodes and night terrors, she had a very palpable reason to fear falling asleep. Over the next 20 years, as she recounts in this harrowing memoir, her anxiety over sleepwalking stole into every corner of her life, affecting her relationships and leading her to drink heavily in a futile attempt to keep the dangers of the night at bay. At times her sleepwalking put her in real danger, and even led to serious injuries, but the physical toll paled in comparison to the mental anguish she endured. While she rhapsodically relates her thrill at discovering her place on the stage as a career, she also acknowledges that during her young adulthood she was stalked by sleeplessness. As much an exploration of the harmful legacy from an unacknowledged family history of addiction and mental illness as an account of dealing with an unexplained sleep disorder, Frazier’s memoir records her search for the roots of her episodes as she memorably captures the tedium and terror of nights spent dreading sleep." —Booklist

"Kathleen Frazier has a story to tell and she knows how to tell it. Sleepwalker is a terrifying, compelling, and fascinating tale that takes us deep into the horrors of sleep walking and then reveals to us how the author managed to end a twenty-year nightmare." —Ellen Burstyn, award-winning actress, writer, teacher

“Kathleen Frazier is a gifted storyteller. In addition to providing insight into what chronic sleepwalking is like firsthand, this story also tells of a dysfunctional family, alcoholism, heartbreak, and tragedy. But there is love, light, laughter, and, above all, hope. This book will keep you awake and alert to the end.” —Malachy McCourt, New York Times bestselling author of A Monk Swimming

"Kathleen Frazier's Sleepwalker is a powerful and poignant account of her awakening from a long night of fear and self-doubt into the light of recovery and self-awareness. Her soulful combination of insight and unflinching honesty fills every page. This is a book that will inspire as well as enlighten." —Peter Quinn, winner of the American Book Award

"Sleepwalker is a brave, moving, frightening, and ultimately hopeful memoir. Kathleen Frazier vividly describes her strange and sometimes violent episodes of sleepwalking and night terrors that took hold of her as a child and nearly ruined her life. After several near-fatal sleepwalking incidents, she finally found the support she needed—from loved ones, and from medical experts in sleep disorders—to recover from the condition that held her in its dangerous grip for twenty years. Frazier offers the reader a fascinating and deeply personal glimpse into the interior world of a sleepwalker."
Alice Eve Cohen, award-winning author of The Year My Mother Came Back and What I Thought I Knew

"Nocturnal clouds haunt each page like a storm threatening. Well-observed and Irishly funny, mulish and ghoulish and death defying, darkly clangorous and boozy yet ultimately sobering, Frazier's eye-opening memoir will have you laughing nervously all night long. Riveting!" —Patrick Tracey, award-winning author of Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family's Schizophrenia

"A brave and harrowing story, told straight from the heart, full of hope and inspiration." —Mary Pat Kelly, bestselling author of Galway Bay and Of Irish Blood, director of Proud

"Powerful and poignant—honest and harrowing—a remarkable narrative of one woman’s struggle with decades long sleepwalking. It is about inherited loss and terror, family secrets, near-death experiences, but also about courage and in the end, it's a love story and a life-affirming journey." —Seamus Scanlon, author of As Close As You'll Ever Be

“Kathleen Frazier's memoir Sleepwalker is an amazingly honest, heartbreaking, haunting but ultimately illuminating study of the secrets behind our slumber and our dreams. A dazzling debut.” —Susan Shapiro, author of Lighting Up, Unhooked, and What's Never Said

"A vivid and engrossing saga that takes us from the comforting xenophobia of an Irish-American family to the competitive alleys of New York City's theatre world; all the while Ms. Frazier is haunted by the demons of sleeepwalking. This is a story of redemption and triumph—you find yourself rooting for the author through every line of this inspiring book." —Larry Kirwan, author of Green Suede Shoes

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