The book is inspired by a lifelong fascination with the night. I grew up listening to late-night radio baseball broadcasts in Detroit. I live very close to railroad tracks, so I was always haunted by the Hank Williams-like moan of the locomotives. And then I worked in a Detroit factory all night long through my college years.
In those years, where I started sleeping two or three hours a night, getting a pattern that has continued on, eventually I discovered that I had a lot of company out there. History is full of those who love to be up all night — from the poet Sappho to Galileo, of course, working on his telescopes; Darwin, Virginia Woolf, Churchill, Obama today. So I had a lot of company with this fascination of the night.
…There’s an old English proverb: “Night gives great counsel.” It’s very reflective. It’s a contemplative part of the day. So, at the solstice, which we’re celebrating today, one could think that it’s the shortest day — there’s only 9½ hours of light. My thought on it is that, “Sure, but we have 14½ hours of darkness with which to celebrate the end of winter and the fact that life is coming back again.”
Now that’s speaking my language.