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Appointment with the Wolf

Rediscovering an ancient hour alone, at night, with GodFor a full decade, starting in 1998, I woke for an hour or two every night around two o’clock in the morning. By 4 a.m. I could usually get back to sleep, but the cost was profound. My health deteriorated. My income suffered. And eventually I became depressed. My physician explained it as a case of “sleep fragmentation,” an infirmity that often surfaces in middle age, especially in men. But he was at a loss to explain why my sleep had fragmented so precisely, like a diamond sheared off with a jeweler’s mallet in exactly the same place every night.The gap that opened as a result of that fragmentation was a puzzle. Should I learn to live with it? Should I take Lunesta? Should I use that time to work my way through the 47 novels of the Victorian author Anthony Trollope, as my father had done when he began having the same problem so many years before?In popular idiom, the period between dark and daybreak is referred to as the “hour of the wolf,” an image evoking the eerie, predatory fatalism that tends to come calling. In 1968, the Swedish filmmaker Ing …

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